PARIS — A critic of a citizens’ political group has registered the organization’s name with the state and says he will ask the group to stop using it.

The Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices accepted resident Greg Harris’ registration of a political action committee known as Paris Citizens for Responsible Government on Tuesday. The group, which Harris was not a member of, has supported candidates for municipal office in the past two years and has been described as an informal organization.

Harris explained that he is attempting to ensure that town politics remain “above board.”

“If they’re going to keep acting like a PAC, I’m going to keep asking them to report as one,” he said.

“The point that I’m trying to make with all of this is I’d like to see people voluntarily participating in this system, to be above board in where money is coming from, who’s supporting what, and why,” Harris said.

Under state guidelines, a political action committee is defined as any separate fund that seeks to influence an election or referendum question. PAC, party and lobbyist registrar Cindy Sullivan said that while PACs do not have to raise a set amount per year, they must register with the state if more than $1,500 is spent over the course of a year.

Sullivan said that while the state does not monitor local elections, organizations meeting the qualifications of a PAC that seek to influence elections in cities with populations of 15,000 or more must register with the municipal office and file reports there. She said that beginning in 2011, this data will also be forwarded to the state Ethics Commission.

The commission does not register PACs that address local issues, but Harris’ application was accepted because it promises to raise and spend money on statewide initiatives as well as local elections and questions. He said he and other members of the PAC will meet to discuss which state questions they will choose to support.

Harris’ initial report listed no revenue or expenditures. Sullivan said the PAC must file regular reports with the commission, with seven scheduled for 2010. All income must be reported, but contributions of $50 or more must list the donor’s name, address, occupation and employer. Harris said he will also provide the town with reports of the PAC’s finances.

Jack Richardson, treasurer of Paris Citizens for Responsible Government, previously said that the organization was informal and consists of a bank account and post office box. He said contributions to the group are used to pay for advertisements or mailings, and that such efforts were started on the initiative of residents rather than a group decision.

Paris Citizens for Responsible Government supported Raymond Glover and Lloyd “Skip” Herrick in their joint bid for the Board of Selectmen in 2008, and also published an open letter critical of the board’s 3-2 decision to terminate former Town Manager Sharon Jackson’s contract with the town in June.

“There is no group. It’s just a name. There’s only one person’s name associated with it — and that’s me,”  Richardson said Tuesday night in reaction to Harris registering the name with the state.

Richardson said that he has no idea what the move means for Paris Citizens for Responsible Government, which has its own bank account, but reports only to those people who donated to it. He added that he was never asked about the decision to register the name with the state by Harris.

In October, resident Rick Jackson requested that Paris voluntarily adopt the state guidelines for campaign disclosures and said Paris Citizens for Responsible Government met the requirements of a PAC. A special town meeting scheduled for Thursday originally included an article asking if voters would voluntarily put such requirements in place, but selectmen removed it at their last meeting after Glover and Herrick raised concerns that it was unclear.

[email protected]

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.