A background check for hot dogs

Angus King’s Lunch in Lewiston contest will let four lucky contest winners and their guests have the chance to eat lunch with King and his wife, Mary Herman, at Simone’s Hot Dogs in Lewiston.

What’s the catch? Contribute at least $5 to the campaign and allow the campaign to complete a background check first if it chooses.

The Lunch in Lewiston contest rules require that contestants deliver a signed affidavit that they agree to the contest rules and release the campaign from any liability. The contest rules also say:

“As a condition of being awarded any prize, each winner and his or her guest will be required to execute and deliver to Angus 2012 a signed affidavit of eligibility and acceptance of these Official Rules and release of liability, and any other legal, regulatory, or tax-related documents required by Angus 2012 in its sole discretion. Angus 2012 may, at its option, conduct a background check on each potential winner and his or her guest. Angus 2012 reserves the right to disqualify any person from receiving any prize based on such background check if Angus 2012 determines, in its sole discretion that awarding any prize to such potential winner could result in a safety or security risk to any person or persons or could result in the disruption of any event associated with the Promotion.”

Republican Senate candidate Charlie Summers’ campaign jumped on the King campaign for this tidbit in a fundraising appeal this afternoon.

In an email to supporters, the campaign draws a contrast between King’s fundraiser with lobbyists in Washington, D.C., last night and the hot dog contest:

“[W]hile the people of Maine are struggling, worrying about the economy and wondering if they can make their mortgage payments, Angus King is hobnobbing with big dollar Washington lobbyists. And when Mainers are worrying about how to pay their next grocery bill, Angus King is making them go through a four-page application complete with a background check just to eat a hot dog with him.”

This blog entry will be updated with a response from the King campaign. (See update below.)

King’s campaign isn’t the only political organization to require that contestants submit to background checks. This is from a page with contest guidelines for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Red to Blue Candidate Day Contest. The text is almost the same as the guidelines from the King campaign:

11. Affidavit & Release; Background Security Check. As a condition of being awarded any prize, winner will be required to execute and deliver to Sponsor a signed affidavit of eligibility and acceptance of these Official Rules and release of liability, and any other legal, regulatory, or tax-related documents required by Sponsor in its sole discretion. Sponsor may, at its option, conduct a background check on the potential winner. Sponsor reserves the right to disqualify any person from receiving any prize based on such background check if Sponsor determines, in its sole discretion, that awarding any prize to such potential winner could result in a safety or security risk to any person or persons or could result in the disruption of any event associated with the Promotion, or would otherwise not be permitted to attend the event based on additional background check requirements.”

Update, 5:15 p.m.

King campaign spokeswoman Crystal Canney said of the contest rules:

“It was boilerplate language similar to other senators’ and federally elected candidates’ across the country that was recommended to us by a lawyer. In hindsight, we were overly cautious.”