The Maine Republican Party has called for an investigation into Democratic Senate candidate Sara Gideon after a Washington Free Beacon investigation revealed serious campaign finance violations that she has now admitted to.
Gideon, who has been anointed as the Democratic Party establishment's pick to challenge Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine) next November, violated election law by using a corporate-funded state political action committee to reimburse her own political contributions to federal candidates. Federal election law forbids individuals from making individual contributions in the name of another person or entity, but Gideon did so on four different occasions in 2015 and 2016.
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"She's blaming incorrect guidance and all these other things, but she's been running for office since 2012 and she has negotiated and worked on campaign finance bills even at the state level," Maine Republican Party executive director Jason Savage told Maine Business Daily.
"I don't know who the proper investigative authority is, but she won't even release the alleged guidance she received to show what happened. Somebody needs to get to the bottom of this," he continued.
In one instance, Gideon Leadership PAC paid Gideon $1,000 one month after she donated the same amount to Democratic congressional candidate Emily Cain. A Maine disclosure form described the payment as "reimbursement for federal contribution."
After the Free Beacon's report was published, Gideon pleaded ignorance, saying the result came from "incorrect guidance on how to process" political contributions.
Experts told the Free Beacon that the mistake was a shocking oversight.
"I've never seen anyone in the political arena, especially an officeholder, who doesn't understand that this is a serious thing you just do not do," a veteran campaign finance attorney said.
Gideon's Democratic primary challengers jumped at the campaign finance missteps, with Justice Democrats-endorsed candidate Betsy Sweet saying the violations showed how "deep and wide the problem of corporate money influencing our democracy and our politicians is."
The PAC Gideon used to reimburse her federal contributions is funded largely through corporate contributions, which are allowed in Maine but prohibited by federal election law.