Former Department of Economic and Community Development commish John Richardson dropped out of the race for the Blaine House Monday, following the Maine Ethics Commission’s ruling on the former state House Speaker’s failure to qualify for Maine Clean Elections Funds.
The 13-page ethics commission’s ruling can be read here. It includes allegations of fraud among three of Richardson’s volunteers, who in an apparent last-minute effort to meet the MCEF $5 contribution requirements, falsified documents claiming donations and signatures from people who didn’t supply one, both or either.
As the Bangor Daily News report notes, the most egregious of these violations appears to have taken place by a volunteer trolling for donations and signatures in Fort Kent and Perry. The BDN report does not mention that Perry is home to the Passamaquoddy and Wabanaki Native American tribes (Now there’s a follow-up story).
The ethics report is careful to not to connect Richardson to the scandal.
That doesn’t seem to be satisfying the BDN or Press Herald’s editorial boards, who are calling for a wider investigation. Money quote from the BDN:
“As the Ethics Commission said in its letter to Mr. Richardson, “Establishing an effective campaign structure to ensure compliance is a reasonable standard [for] any candidate seeking public funding to become the chief executive officer of the State of Maine.”
Mr. Richardson is a former speaker of the House and economic development commissioner. For him to fail this basic test is outrageous.“
Meanwhile, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rosa Scarcelli, called on the state’s AG and Gov. John Baldacci to conduct an independent investigation to see if there were additional “instances of abuse.”
That maneuver would seem to work well for Scarcelli, who has positioned herself as the Dems’ anti-establishment candidate.
However, her comments doesn’t seem to appeal to Mike Tipping, the uber-liberal of the Maine’s People Alliance, who on Twitter accused Scarcelli of looking for the “wedge” issue.
Scarcelli’s retort tweet: “I’m sorry, since when fraud and corruption become a ‘wedge issue’?”
Elsewhere, the reaction from other candidates was, well, kind of weird.
Take the following line from Democrat, Libby Mitchell, president of the state Senate.
“I praise John for his contribution to the debate and wish him well,” Mitchell wrote in a press release. “Maine voters should be proud of the thorough work of the Ethics Commission. Clean elections is about campaigning the right way and ensuring citizens have a voice in the process.”
Translation: “Thanks for coming, Johnny. And to the Ethics Commission, drinks are on the house!”
And speaking of thinly-veiled glee, how about the victorious press release from the Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, claiming that the scandal showed that the checks and balances of the MCEF system were successful?
The release was sent at 11:13 a.m., 13 minutes after Richardson’s scheduled withdrawal speech in Brunswick.
— Posted from mobile