Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon violated state law when she used a committee financed in part by corporations to reimburse herself for donations in 2016, the Maine Ethics Commission ruled Wednesday.
The panel fined Gideon's now-defunct political committee $500, the Bangor Daily News reports, though she faces a federal complaint on the issue and a similar challenge filed Tuesday by a conservative group.
Gideon, 47, who has been speaker since December 2016, is among three Democrats seeking the state's nomination to challenge four-term Republican incumbent Sen. Susan Collins, 66, next year.
According to the Ethics Commission, Gideon was reimbursed $2,750 by her political action committee for contributions to two Maine political organizations in 2016.
Those donations were for $250 each, though her PAC wrote Gideon a $1,446 check for the contributions and "other expenses," according to Jonathan Wayne, the commission's executive director.
Gideon's contributions were to the Maine House Democratic Campaign Committee and to now-U.S. Rep. Jared Golden's leadership fund, the commission said.
The reimbursements from Gideon's PAC disclosed in state filings, the Daily News reports, though they ran afoul of federal election laws because 60 percent of her committee's money from business sources between 2014 and early 2019 that could contribute to state campaigns but not federal ones.
Contributing funds in someone else's name violates state and federal election laws.
In August, former Republican state Sen. Ed Youngblood filed complaints to the state Ethics Commission and the Federal Election Commission, alleging that Gideon violated laws through the contributions.
Besides Gideon, other Democratic challengers to Collins include lobbyist Betsy Sweet and lawyer Bre Kidman, the Daily News reports.
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