Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon, a Democrat who is challenging Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) for her seat in 2020, reportedly violated election laws numerous times in 2015 and 2016 and is now casting blame on “incorrect guidance” for the violations.
The Washington Free Beacon‘s Brent Scher reported that Gideon broke the law by “getting reimbursed for personal political contributions to federal campaigns through a corporate-funded Maine political action committee.”
“Federal election law explicitly prohibits individuals from making contributions in the name of another person or entity,” the Free Beacon added, noting that Gideon’s own website even warns donors against doing what she reportedly did.
“In 2015, Gideon contributed $1,000 to Emily Cain, who was the Democratic candidate running for the seat in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District. Nearly a month later, Gideon’s state political action committee paid her $1,000, calling it a ‘reimbursement for federal contribution,'” the Bangor Daily News reported. “That committee, Gideon Leadership PAC, which has largely been used to bolster Democratic legislative campaigns, reimbursed Gideon three more times through 2016 for $1,750 more in contributions to Cain and the federal campaign arm of the Maine Democratic Party.”
Cleta Mitchell, an expert campaign finance attorney, told the Free Beacon: “Contributions in the name of another is probably the number one worst campaign finance violation under federal law.”
“I’ve seen laypeople who periodically need reminders that it’s illegal to reimburse someone for a campaign contribution, but 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,” Mitchell continued. “Your donors are your donors, and they better not be getting reimbursed by any third party.”
Erin Chlopak, a former head of the Federal Election Commission’s policy division, told the Bangor Daily News: “Typically, when people try to break the law, they try to be more discreet about it.”
Gideon is backed by Senate Democrats in her bid to unseat Collins.