Update: Prosecutors have cleared Town Manager Michael Chammings of any wrongdoing

PARIS — The Oxford County District Attorney’s Office said it’s investigating a complaint that Oxford Town Manager Michael Chammings removed a roadside campaign sign belonging to selectman candidate Scott Hunter.

Assistant District Attorney Richard Beauchesne declined to comment on the details of the investigation, and more information wasn’t expected until Wednesday morning.

Oxford Police Chief Jonathan Tibbetts said a complaint was filed with the department Thursday but said he couldn’t comment further on the pending investigation. He did not disclose the name of the person who filed the complaint, citing the ongoing investigation.

State law prohibits removing, defacing or disturbing lawfully placed signs bearing political messages relating to a general election, primary election or referendum. A violation is a civil offense that can result in a fine of up to $250.  

Signs can be placed in a public right-of-way without a license no sooner than six weeks before the election, primary or referendum. They must be no bigger than 50 square feet. They must be removed by the candidate a week after the election. 

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Laws regarding political signs prohibit their placement on private land without the landowner’s permission. They’re also prohibited from highways, trees, traffic control signs or devices, public utility poles or fixtures, and can’t be painted or drawn upon rocks or other natural features. 

Once lawfully in place, they can only be removed by the candidate or someone authorized to do so. 

Chammings denied any misconduct, saying the sign was on his property without his permission, so he set it aside.

Chammings said he was obliged to do so because, as part of his employment as town manager, professional ethics rules prevent him from giving the appearance of supporting one candidate over another.

He declined to answer additional questions, and said, “If you want anything else from me, you’ll have to submit it in writing and I’ll get back to you within five days because this is getting disgusting.” 

Hunter said he filed a witness statement with Oxford police after he was informed by someone that a sign at the intersection of Whittemore and Robinson Hill roads was removed Thursday around 2:30 p.m.

Hunter said a campaign volunteer placed the sign on the westbound lane of Robinson Hill Road in the banking by a ditch because the intersection is highly visible. He said he knew it was next to Chammings’ property.

It was the second time a sign at that spot had been removed, Hunter said. He said he had not authorized anyone to remove the sign. 

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