Former Maine state senator Edward Youngblood filed an ethics complaint on Thursday against Maine house speaker Sara Gideon after a Washington Free Beacon report revealed she had reimbursed herself for campaign contributions through a corporate-funded political action committee.
Youngblood's complaint seeks to formally punish Gideon for violating state and federal laws by making campaign contributions in someone else's name, the Bangor Daily News reports. Gideon is a Democratic senatorial candidate running to unseat Sen. Susan Collins (R.) in the 2020 election.
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Federal election law prohibits any person from making a campaign contribution in the name of another person or entity. Gideon's campaign website reminds potential donors of this rule, making donors confirm that "this contribution is made from my own funds, and funds are not being provided to me by another person or entity for the purpose of making this contribution."
But in 2015 and 2016, Gideon made campaign contributions on four separate occasions that appear to violate these laws. In one instance, Gideon contributed $1,000 in September 2015 to Democratic congressional candidate Emily Cain's campaign, and was reimbursed a month later by an entity called the Gideon Leadership PAC. This payment was listed as a "reimbursement for federal contribution," according to a Maine disclosure.
Gideon made another contribution to Cain's campaign in June 2016 and two more contributions in 2016 to the Maine Democratic Party. She was reimbursed for all of these contributions by the Gideon Leadership PAC. Gideon was reimbursed $1,750 through 2016 for contributions made to Cain and the Maine Democratic Party.
Gideon is listed as the "decision-maker" of the Gideon Leadership PAC responsible for its "spending decisions" on an acknowledgment of responsibilities form filed to the Maine ethics commission. Gideon's campaign nevertheless claimed earlier this August that she "was given incorrect guidance on how to process" the contributions at the time.
Youngblood, who served in the Maine Ethics Commission, told the Daily News that even if Gideon had been misled, she should still be held accountable for breaking the law.
"She may very well have been misled and probably was," he said. "But the fact remains that she broke the law and there ought to be a public record that shows that she did."