AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Who is financially backing the proposal to bring a casino to York County?
The Maine Ethics Commission is aiming to find out. Today the commission determined there are sufficient grounds to believe backers of the plan violated campaign finance laws. By a five to nothing vote they authorized a formal investigation.
“I’m not sure I understand why all this money is coming from all these different entities into something that, our job is to make sure the public in Maine, the voting public, can understand who’s funding this thing. It’s coming from all different places”, said commission member Richard Nass.
The woman behind the proposal is Lisa Scott. Her brother is controversial developer Shawn Scott, who in 2003 won the rights to a casino in Bangor and sold them for more than $50 million. Under this current proposal his company would be the only one allowed to build the casino in York County. Originally Lisa Scott was the only one listed as contributing to the campaign, but state lawmakers learned several other companies contributed as well. Not listing them is a violation of campaign finance laws.
“This group has used a lot of shell corporations, kind of as a smoke and mirrors way to hide, in my opinion, where the money is really coming from”, said Rep. Louis Luchini (D) Ellsworth.
No matter what other entities funneled money into the campaign, representatives of Lisa Scott told the commission all of it was still Lisa Scott’s money.
“Lisa Scott’s signature is on every campaign contribution”, said Cheryl Timberlake, treasurer of the campaign.
Representative Luchini is one of the lawmakers who requested the investigation. He’s convinced it’s not all Lisa Scott’s money.
“Absolutly, I think there’s money coming in from overseas, that they’ve tried to hide the true source of this financing and I hope the ethics commission can dig and find the true source of this money", he said.
No matter what the outcome of the investigation it will not prevent the casino question from appearing on the ballot in November. If violations are found, casino backers could face some of the biggest fines ever levied in Maine for campaign finance violations.