State Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason (R) “announced Thursday that he submitted the required 2,000 signatures from Maine voters to guarantee his spot on the ballot. However, he’s still working on qualifying for taxpayer funding as a Clean Election candidate, which requires 3,200 contributions of $5.” (Bangor Daily News)
“Nine candidates … have indicated they plan to seek public funds for their campaigns just three years after voters increased the payout to candidates. A smattering of Democrats and independents, a Republican, and a Green Party contender could each claim as much as $3 million from an eight-figure fund, for which Maine’s ethics commission has sought an additional $1.7 million.
“‘[If] everybody qualifies, there isn’t enough money. That’s just a given,’ said Paul Lavin, the assistant director of the Maine Ethics Commission. However, Lavin noted, ‘critical points that will determine who will be eligible for funding’ include getting on the ballot, raising enough qualifying contributions, and winning the primary.” (National Journal)
DIFFERENTIATING THE PRIMARY FIELDS. Ten of the candidates met “at a Portland debate hosted by the Associated General Contractors of Maine on Wednesday. … Responding to [Gov. Paul] LePage’s (R) recent move to set up a commission to review wind energy in Maine that isn’t subject to public meeting laws, former Maine Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew (R) called for ‘transparency in anything that government does.’ Mayhew, [state] House Minority Leader Ken Fredette (R) and [state] Senate President Mike Thibodeau (R) said they would release senior housing bonds stalled by LePage (though Fredette, who has voted against their release, qualified that by saying ‘if done right’). … Businessman Shawn Moody (R) … was the only candidate opposing the bond release and advocating for a questionable merger of the Department of Transportation and the Maine Turnpike Authority. To fight Maine’s opiate epidemic, he advocated going after ‘criminal organizations’ and said Maine must ‘scare’ people away from using drugs. But after Moody noted that he was one of few on-stage who aren’t lawyers or politicians, Fredette (a lawyer and politician) hit back and posted a clip of it on Twitter deriding Moody as ‘pro-choice’ and noting his 2010 run for governor as an independent.”
State Attorney General Janet Mills (D) “said she ‘probably’ didn’t support a 2016 referendum calling for a surtax on high income to fund education — a progressive cause celebre — while former [state] House Speaker Mark Eves (D) and state Sen. Mark Dion (D) did. Lawyer Adam Cote (D) demurred. … The Democrats were all over the place on the concept of a ‘buy America’ bill.”
“State Treasurer Terry Hayes (I) and consultant Alan Caron (I) … followed Republicans in saying she’d veto a ‘buy America’ bill. Both she and Caron said they opposed the surtax. But they also signaled openness to finding aggressive new tax-and-fee mixes to help replace the gas tax.” (Bangor Daily News)
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The indictment, filed in the District of Columbia, alleges that the interference began "in or around 2014," when the defendants began tracking and studying U.S. social media sites. They "created and controlled numerous Twitter accounts" and "purchased computer servers located inside the United States" to mask their identities, some of which were stolen. The interference was coordinated by election interference "specialists," and focused on the Black Lives Matter movement, immigration, and other divisive issues. "By early to mid-2016" the groups began supporting the campaign of "then-candidate Donald Trump," including by communicating with "unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign..."
"Former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates is finalizing a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller's office, indicating he's poised to cooperate in the investigation, according to sources familiar with the case. Gates has already spoken to Mueller's team about his case and has been in plea negotiations for about a month. He's had what criminal lawyers call a 'Queen for a Day' interview, in which a defendant answers any questions from the prosecutors' team, including about his own case and other potential criminal activity he witnessed."
"The Senate on Thursday rejected immigration legislation crafted by centrists in both parties after President Trump threatened to veto the bill if it made it to his desk. In a 54-45 vote, the Senate failed to advance the legislation from eight Republican, seven Democratic and one Independent senators. It needed 60 votes to overcome a procedural hurdle. "
"The House Intelligence Committee has scheduled a Thursday meeting to hear testimony from Steve Bannon—but it's an open question whether President Donald Trump's former chief strategist will even show up. The White House sent a letter to Capitol Hill late Wednesday laying out its explanation for why Trump's transition period falls under its authority to assert executive privilege, a move intended to shield Bannon from answering questions about that time period." Both Republicans and Democrats on the committee dispute the White House's theory, and have floated charging Bannon with contempt should he refuse to appear.