PORTLAND (AP) – The chairman of Maine’s ethics commission wants to clear up confusion around the state’s Clean Elections Act before the November elections.

The Clean Elections Act bars candidates from spending money on lawyers when indecisive vote counts send races to the courts. The problem cropped up twice in June primary elections, with publicly financed candidates uncertain what, if anything, they could spend hiring attorneys to plead their cases.

“It was a ticklish problem,” said Andrew Ketterer, chairman of the Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices, which dealt with the issue at its last meeting. “Every election cycle it seems like it’s happening to somebody.”

One answer might be to allow publicly funded candidates to again tap the public till during a recount. Another possible fix would be allowing them to spend private money, but that would run counter to the intent of the Clean Election Act.

The issue is unlikely to be fully resolved before November, when races between Republicans and Democrats could be more closely fought than the primaries, said Jonathan Wayne, the commission’s executive director.

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