The Portland Phoenix

Unlabeled Portland election mailers won’t face consequences

A political mailer coordinated by three Portland candidates prompted complaints by residents because it lacked proper labeling.

A political mailer coordinated by three Portland candidates prompted complaints by residents because it lacked proper labeling. (Portland Phoenix/Evan Edmonds)

The investigation of mailers that were hand-delivered to mailboxes in District 3 prior to last week’s election won’t result in any penalties or further action, city and state officials say.

Mailers endorsing two District 3 candidates were investigated after the three campaigns that issued them failed to include a disclaimer to explain who paid for them.

The mailers were sent out by the campaigns of At-Large city council member Pious Ali, District 3 city councilor candidate Regina Phillips (who was elected) and District 3 School Board incumbent Adam Burk, who was defeated by opponent Julianne Opperman in the second round of ranked-choice runoff.

After investigation from the City of Portland and the Maine State Ethics Commission, it was determined that no further action would be taken. Portland’s Elections Administrator Paul Riley said in this case, someone was careless and not malicious. 

“We got all the answers we needed,” Riley said.

Executive Director of the Ethics Commission, Jonathan Wayne, said that a caution to “do better next time” seemed sufficient enough.

Political advertising with no disclaimer or listed origin is a violation of Maine law. When an endorsement is sent out by a candidate, it must “clearly and conspicuously state” that the communication has been authorized by those candidates who financed it.

Riley confirmed last week that the city was investigating the matter after receiving “numerous complaints,” from residents. The candidates split the cost of the mailer, Riley said, and those expenses will appear on the 42-day finance report for each candidate due Dec. 20.

The back side of a political mailer coordinated by three Portland candidates. Maine law stipulates that political endorsement mailers are must have labeling that properly identifies its sender. (Portland Phoenix/Evan Edmonds)

In an email to the Phoenix, Burk explained the mailer came from the campaigns collaboratively, and apologized for the mistake.

“I have been in touch with the city as we did forget to include a disclaimer (accidentally) and we are sorry for that,” Burk wrote.

Mailers were also allegedly inserted into some residents’ mailboxes, which is a violation of federal law. Burk told Riley and the Ethics Commission that volunteers weren’t instructed to place these in mailboxes, and also acknowledged that it may have happened and apologized for it. 


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