State clamping down on signature-gathering guidelines for casino supporters

ELLSWORTH — The Secretary of State’s Office wants companies collecting signatures to pave the way for a casino in Maine to disclose the names of those gathering signatures.

The signature-gathering process is being led by Las Vegas resident Shawn Scott, former owner of the casino in Bangor.

The wording of the referendum essentially makes Scott the only investor eligible to be licensed for a casino in York County.

Two companies, Olympic Consulting in Lewiston, owned by former state Rep. Stavros Mendros, and Silver Bullet LLC of Cheyenne, Wis., are collecting signatures for the citizens’ referendum.

State law requires that persons who collect signatures for citizens’ referendums be residents of Maine and that their names be listed before the signatures are gathered.

“Right now we don’t have individual names,” Kristen Muszynski, director of communications for Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, said Jan. 19. “The form is supposed to include the individual names.”

“We have reached out to those companies to get more information and notify them that the law does require individual names,” Muszynski said.

Violation of the law is listed as a Class E offense punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

But Muszynski said enforcement would be up to the state Attorney General’s Office.

Rep. Louis Luchini (D-Ellsworth) spotted the problem since it was a panel he co-chairs — the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee — that tweaked the law last year to keep the citizens process within the state.

“The listing requirement ensures that Maine-registered voters are in fact the petition circulators,” Luchini said. “Hiring out-of-state people to circulate petitions is against the law and Constitution.”

“I supported this legislation to ensure integrity in the citizen referendum process,” he said.

Luchini said the proposal was submitted partly because of the bear referendum and the out-of-staters hired to gather signatures.”

The so-called bear baiting referendum, which was defeated, would have prohibited the use of dogs, bait or traps when hunting bears.

In 2007, Mendros, owner of one of the companies collecting signatures, pleaded guilty to not being present during the administration of oath to several petition gatherers during a signature drive for a Washington County casino.

That referendum was rejected by voters.

A report filed with the state Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices states that the “Horseracing Jobs Fairness” group has collected $178,000 in contributions and spent $156,095.97.

Lisa Scott of Miami, Fla., reportedly Scott’s sister, is the only contributor listed in the report to the state.

The bulk of the money was paid to Olympic Consulting, which said it spent $102,195 for field workers.

The deadline for submitting verified signatures is Feb. 1.

Jacqueline Weaver

Jacqueline Weaver

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
Jacqueline's beat covers the eastern Hancock County towns of Lamoine through Gouldsboro as well as Steuben in Washington County. She was a reporter for the New York Times, United Press International and Reuters before moving to Maine. She also publicized medical research at Yale School of Medicine and scientific findings at Yale University for nine years.[email protected]
Jacqueline Weaver

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