AUGUSTA (AP) – A pro-casino political action committee is acting within the law in the way it reports contributions and expenditures, the state ethics commission says.

But commissioners found the group’s accounting method confusing enough to consider changing future rules to clarify reporting procedures for PACs that send invoices to donors who have agreed to pay certain campaign expenses.

Casinos No!, an anti-casino PAC, asked the Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices to examine campaign finance reports filed by the pro-casino group Think About It.

The latter group was formed to support the November referendum that would allow two Maine Indian tribes to open a casino in Maine.

The PAC has no bank account, and no money flows in from donors and out for services such as advertising, lobbying and polling.

Instead, Think About It submits invoices for services to Las Vegas casino developer Marnell Corrao or tribal attorney Thomas Tureen. Their payments are recorded on campaign finance reports as in-kind services.

Lehane said the PAC works as subcontractor for Marnell Corrao, which has an agreement with the Penobscot and Passamaquoddy tribes to design and build a casino.

As of April, Marnell Corrao had provided nearly all of the $495,000 spent on the campaign. Tureen, who contributed about $68,000 of the campaign costs, has since been reimbursed for most of that amount, Lehane said.

Dennis Bailey, a spokesman for Casinos No!, said classifying outside payments as in-kind services misleads voters about who is paying for the referendum campaign.

As an example, he showed commissioners a campaign mailer that said, “Paid for by Think About It” at the bottom.

But either Marnell Corrao or Tureen paid directly for the mailer, he said.

Commission director Jonathan Wayne said he thought the group was using the proper method to report where it was getting and spending money.

“The way Think About It has reported its activity is fully consistent with the law. It is actually the preferred way of reporting it,” he said.

Commissioners voted 3-1 to research the reporting issue and come back with potential rule changes.

AP-ES-06-19-03 0217EDT

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