REFERENDUM BACKERS FACE FINES AFTER MISSING REPORTING DEADLINES
By TESS NACELEWICZ
The two major groups campaigning to repeal Maine's gay-rights law face small fines for missing a state deadline for campaign finance reports.
Yes for Equal Rights and the Ad Hoc Committee for Common Sense faxed their financial statements to the state Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices shortly after 11 p.m. Wednesday. The deadline was 5 p.m.
Paul Volle, a co-chairman of the campaign, said he was too busy doing campaign work to file on time. Opponents criticized the groups for not complying with the campaign finance reporting law.
Yes for Equal Rights faces a fine of $38.
It's not clear how much the fine would be for the Ad Hoc Committee for Common Sense. Fines are based on a percentage of a group's fund-raising, and there appears to be an error in the committee's report, said Marilyn Canavan, director of the state commission.
For a first offense, a group that files late is subject to a fine equaling 1 percent of the amount it spent or the amount it collected, whichever is greater. The fine is assessed for each day the report is late.
Canavan said Thursday that it appears the Ad Hoc Committee may face a fine of about $245 because it lists its expenditures for the filing period of Jan. 6-29 as $24,540.
But two of the numbers on the committee's report don't add up, so Canavan is unsure what the fine will be until the numbers are corrected.
She said her office has three days to inform the two groups that a penalty has been assessed. The groups then have 10 days to seek a hearing if they wish to contest the fines.
The reports that Yes for Equal Rights and the Ad Hoc Committee filed Wednesday indicate they had raised about $95,000 through Jan. 29.
Volle said at a rally Thursday that the groups' total now is about $150,000.
Gay-rights supporters have raised more than $420,000, according to reports those groups filed by the deadline Wednesday.
Joe Cooper, a spokesman for Maine Won't Discriminate, the main group campaigning to uphold the law, accused the repeal campaign of having more money than it reported.
He claimed the Christian Coalition of Maine is a "front group for the national Christian Coalition."
Paul Nagy, a regional director of the Christian Coalition, said the national group had donated $5,000 to the Maine effort.
Volle said that money has not been reported because it went directly to the Christian Coalition as a "special project" donation.
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