AUGUSTA – Republican gubernatorial nominee Chandler Woodcock crossed the million-dollar mark in clean elections funding this weekend, courtesy of the Maine Democratic Party.
“The money allows us to implement different aspects of the campaign that we weren’t able to before,” said Chris Jackson, Woodcock’s campaign manager. “This allows us to reach voters in a lot of different ways that we formerly would have been unable to do.”
While the Woodcock team was happy to get the money, Dan Billings, a campaign spokesman, emphasized that half of the funds had been received in the last three weeks, forcing the campaign to rapidly implement its plans for spending the cash.
“It would have been great if we could have gotten it sooner,” he said.
Paul Lavin of the state ethics commission confirmed that during the last week, the Maine Democratic Party spent $82,585 in political ads targeting Woodcock and $79,995 supporting Democratic Gov. John E. Baldacci.
Matching funds were triggered for all three candidates running under the state’s Maine Clean Elections Act, but because he was specifically targeted, Woodcock received more money than Green Independent Party nominee Pat LaMarche or independent hopeful Barbara Merrill. Both women received checks for $78,744, bringing their totals to $854,532 each.
Woodcock received $161,330, raising his current total to just under $1.1 million in taxpayer-funded contributions. He is closing in on the maximum $1.2 million the publicly funded gubernatorial candidates can get under the Clean Elections Act.
The Maine Republican Party reported $1,250 in independent expenditures on Woodcock’s behalf in the last few days.
There were no recent ad buys by the Republican Governors Association, which prompted two staffers from opposing campaigns to speculate that the organization had “pulled the plug” on the former high school teacher and coach.
A press spokeswoman at the RGA in Washington, D.C. said she could neither confirm nor deny whether an additional expenditure would be initiated for Woodcock by her organization because the information would reveal the GOP strategy for the campaign.
In other developments at the state Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices, the panel is scheduled to meet today at 9 a.m. for a varied agenda that includes a complaint filed against the Democratic Governors Association.
A letter was filed with the commission by Merrill’s campaign treasurer, James Bowers, who called for a complete investigation of reporting around consulting services provided by Democratic political activist Patricia Eltman.
Bowers maintained that a recent article in the Portland Phoenix indicated Eltman had provided consulting services to Baldacci that expressly advised, supported and furthered Baldacci’s re-election campaign in “a role acknowledged by campaign staffers and Ms. Eltman’s colleague in the article.”
According to the Phoenix, the Democratic Governors Association paid “at least $123,000 to Public Affairs Group, the Augusta lobbying firm of one of Baldacci’s closest re-election campaign advisers, longtime Democratic organizer Patricia Eltman.”
“These services, in our view, constitute an in-kind contribution that should be matched,” Bowers said. “Furthermore, because this contribution has not been reported, a clear violation of the reporting rules has occurred.”