Should national groups disclose donors if they fund elections in Maine?

Good morning from Augusta and in my opinion, one of the best Fridays of the year: It’s finally fall, the air is crisp and there’s not a drop of rain in the immediate forecast. We’re in for a gorgeous weekend, but first there’s some business to attend to, such as one more day of work for most of us.

My colleague Darren Fishell has a story posted on the BDN’s The Point this morning that carries the headline “What to do when your paycheck doesn’t come.” It kind of startled me because when I saw it I’d just woken up from a disturbing dream about losing my job. What a coincidence, but then again, Darren has a knack for being ahead of the rest of us most of the time.

I have a hard time remembering many of the details, but I ended up working at a shop in some big, dirty city (It looked like Sesame Street except with more trash and grit) selling console televisions. Is it a sign I should be a TV journalist instead? Maybe it was all spurred by that editor’s note in yesterday’s Daily Brief about my bosses cutting my pay (by the way, those notes are actually written by an editor, though hopefully in jest).

I dunno, but it seems appropriate to pick a soundtrack this morning that celebrates the paycheck. This one is a little loud but in my opinion the perfect setup for today. — Christopher Cousins

Ethics Commission could seek legislation to unveil donors

The Maine Ethics Commission, which among other things oversees campaign finance laws in Maine, is weighing whether to ask the Legislature for a law change that requires national organizations to disclose their donor lists. The law would apply to political action committees and ballot question committees that spend more than $5,000 to influence the outcome of an election or referendum.

The new law, which will be considered by the commission during its Oct. 1 meeting, comes after a five-year legal battle that ended last month with the National Organization for Marriage finally disclosing its donor list after having poured money into repealing Maine’s same-sex marriage law in 2009.

If the commission votes in favor of the law, it would be forwarded to the Legislature for consideration when lawmakers reconvene next year. — Christopher Cousins

Is your Volkswagen a fraud?

You might’ve heard that Volkswagen is newly embroiled in a controversy about installing software in some of its diesel vehicles that falsify emissions test results to circumvent clean air regulations and deceive customers.

What does fahrvergnugen mean again?

Anyway, Attorney General Janet Mills announced Thursday that she has opened an investigation into the matter in concert with other attorneys general and the federal government. She said the rigged emissions computers in the cars put Maine’s clean air at risk and could falsify results in Cumberland County, where vehicles are required to pass emissions tests for an inspection sticker. This is, after all, the home state of former Sen. Edmund Muskie, the father of the Clean Air Act.

“Consumers have a right to believe the information they are provided by manufacturers is truthful,” said Mills in a written statement. “The charges that VW has, or attempted to, circumvent emissions standards by manipulating software in the car is a very serious charge.”

Mills said anyone who has concerns about their diesel vehicles should contact the Maine Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-436-2131 or by email at — Christopher Cousins

Reading list

Sunday will be an awesome moon day

Last month I described in the Daily Brief an amazing experience I had with my family watching the Perseid meteor shower. Well, the solar system is poised to give us another show this weekend of an entirely different sort and this time it will be a slow-mover instead of a rushed streak across the heavens.

A lunar eclipse will occur Sunday, beginning around 8 p.m. wrapping up sometime past midnight. If you’re interested, check out this informative blog by CBS 13’s Charlie Lopresti for more information. — Christopher Cousins




Christopher Cousins

About Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.