Democratic representative faces fine for late return of unspent public campaign cash

Democratic Rep. Dillon Bates, who is the subject of a Maine Ethics Commission hearing on Friday regarding his use of Maine Clean Election Act funds, said Wednesday that he has returned the unspent money in question and will attend Friday’s meeting to discuss a fine.

“I returned the money after the deadline and will be at the hearing on Friday to discuss a late fee,” wrote Bates of Westbrook in an email response to questions from the Bangor Daily News. “The money was accounted for and there are no red flags on how it was spent, just late on the return.”

Jonathan Wayne, executive director of the Maine Ethics Commission, confirmed that his organization received a check from Bates for the $2,617 in question on Monday.

“Mr. Bates has been cooperative in providing us with bank documentation of his campaign expenditures and we’re still looking at them,” said Wayne.

According to the Ethics Commission’s Friday agenda, commission staff contacted Bates about the unspent funds 11 times between Dec. 14, 2016 and Feb. 10, 2017.

Based on how late the return of the funds was, Maine law says Bates could be subject to a penalty of up to $10,000, though Wayne and his staff are likely to recommend a penalty of between $250 and $500, according to the agenda. The Maine Ethics Commission routinely assesses penalties for campaign finance violations of far less than the maximum allowed under the law.

Maine Republican Party Executive Director Jason Savage highlighted the case in an email Wednesday morning.

“The Maine GOP is providing you this information in the interest of accountability for the taxpayers and the people of Maine,” wrote Savage. “We will be monitoring this situation through the March 3 ethics hearing and until resolution.”

The commission will also consider on Friday fines for three other entities for late campaign finance filings.

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.