Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Babin Campaign Cleared of Ethics Charges

Republican State Senate candidate David Babin has been cleared of any wrongdoing by the state’s Ethics Commission. Campaign advertising in the West End NEWS and other local newspapers had become the target of an ethics commission complaint filed against Babin in August. The complaint, filed by a Portland voter, say that advertisements Babin placed in The West End NEWS promoting the Taxpayer Bill of Rights were in violation of Maine’s Clean Election law.

The advertisements feature Babin’s "not just another pretty face" picture with information on why he is supporting the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

The formal complaint was filed by William D. Dobrowolski, who described himself as an independent, but who served as Senator Ethan Strimling's deputy campaign treasurer during Strimling’s 2002 run for the seat. Dobrowolski said he filed the complaint because he believes in the Ethics Commission and in the Clean Elections system. He said he has not been active politically for years after severing political affiliations when attempting to be appointed to the Ethics Commission himself.

Dobrowolski sent copies of all six Babin ads that appeared in the last two issues of the West End NEWS to Ethics Commission Executive Director Jonathan Wayne, specifically referring to the ad in which Babin expresses support for the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR). Dobrowolski told the Commission that there is nothing in the ads that promote Babin’s run for the senate seat, despite Babin’s picture appearing in the ad, along with the phrase ‘Babin - State Senate.’
In his complaint, Dobrowolski referred to the Clean Election Guidelines which say that “Maine Clean Election Act funds may not be spent to: …make independent expenditures supporting or opposing any candidate, ballot measure, or political committee.”

In a September 25th reply to Dombrowolski, Wayne said that the members of the Commission concluded that Babin’s ads were acceptable uses of Clean Elections funds and that they would take no further action on the issue.

A Republican Party official said that it was confirmed with the Ethics Commission before the primary that it was legal for Babin to endorse the Taxpayer Bill of Rights in the advertisements.

Paul Lavin, Assistant Director of the Ethics Commission staff, said that the newspaper’s only obligation in the matter was to include the attribution statement in each ad. All of the ads in question are properly attributed to Babin.


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