PORTLAND – The lone Green Independent in the Legislature has accepted a $100 fine for automated calls that criticized a political opponent.
Rep. John Eder of Portland was fined for failing to disclose that he paid for the calls earlier this month. He acknowledged in an e-mail sent to the state ethics commission that he won’t dispute the fine at a meeting Monday.
During the calls, the state president of the National Organization for Women said she was “very concerned” about Democrat Jon Hinck’s position on abortion. The call was circulated to 5,000 households in District 118 in Portland.
Hinck, an environmental lawyer who described himself as a “feminist” who is “pro-choice” on abortion, complained and the calls were stopped.
The Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices agreed that failure to disclose who paid for the calls was a violation.
“It’s very important to know whether a communication has been paid for by a candidate or by an independent group,” said Jonathan Wayne, the commission’s executive director. “It helps voters understand how much weight to give the message.”
State law requires candidates to disclose whether they paid for advertisements, signs and literature. Last year the Legislature required candidates to disclose communications involving other media, including automated calls.
Eder said he had received such calls in the past from opposing campaigns and did not hear a disclosure. When he prepared the call about abortion, he said, he didn’t know about the change.
“I was unaware of that statute,” he said. “I do understand it was a violation and I fully accept that this is the fine.”
Since the call was circulated, Hinck said he has received supportive calls and e-mails from women in his district who were offended by the call. “As it turns out, this might help me,” Hinck said.