Ethics Watchdog Calls for Probe of U.S. Senate Candidate in Maine
Evidence Shows Sara Gideon Illegally Coordinated with 501(c)(4) Group to Run Ads on Her Behalf
Washington, D.C.—April 16, 2020—Today, the non-partisan ethics watchdog, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) against Sara Gideon (candidate for U.S. Senate in Maine), Sara Gideon for Maine (her campaign committee), and Majority Forward (a 501(c)(4) non-profit) for violating the Federal Election Campaign Act.
According to the complaint, in January 2020, Gideon’s campaign updated its website to use a known method for communicating with outside groups on advertising. This unique format of communication involved an “Important Update” icon and a link prominently displayed on the website’s home page. The linked page used coded language to identify the request and the content for the advertisement.
A short time later, Majority Forward responded by running the advertisement Gideon requested, after which Gideon removed the “Important Update” link from her website’s home page. Majority Forward reportedly spent $500,000 to run such ads for Gideon, an illegal in-kind contribution if coordinated.
“The Gideon campaign actively posted specifically formatted information, after which an outside group ran an ad clearly based on it, and then the campaign took it down. These facts demonstrate the FEC needs to investigate for coordination,” said Kendra Arnold, Executive Director of FACT. “The Gideon campaign has complete control over its website, and it chose to post the same specifically formatted information that other campaigns have apparently used to successfully communicate with outside groups. Not coincidentally, it worked,” added Arnold.
A full copy of the complaint can be found here.
FACT is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency in government and civic arenas. For more on FACT, visit: www.factdc.org