October 9, 2012

OUR OPINION: Ethics panel needs fast ruling on case of Bangor senator

Morning Sentinel Staff

While the Maine political world was having fun with a legislative candidate who lives an active fantasy life online, another legislative candidate has been charged with something much less funny.

Senate District 25 Democratic candidate Colleen Lachowicz of Waterville is a social worker in real life who goes by the name Santiaga in the game, World of Warcraft.

In that world, she has written things (such as "I love poisoning and stabbing. It is fun!") that in another context would be the sign of an unhinged mind.

In the context of the game, however, her words are no more meaningful than a baseball player saying he knocked out a pitcher or a quarterback saying he threw a bomb.

On the serious side of politics, however, Sen. Nichi Farnham, R-Bangor, is accused of being the beneficiary of $72,000 in negative ads against her opponent from a political action committee that she controls.

The problem is that, as a Clean Elections candidate, Farnham is not permitted to raise outside money for her campaign. Democrats have filed a formal complaint and are preparing to ask the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices to hold an immediate hearing on the issue.

Out of fairness to the Democrats, Farnham and her constituents in District 32, it's the only fair thing to do.

Because of an unfortunate loophole in the Clean Elections Act, Farnham is allowed to raise money through a leadership PAC, even though as a publicly funded candidate, she is not supposed to spend it on her own race.

Republican officials say she had no knowledge about the expenditure, but the PAC's filing identifies her as one of two "primary fundraisers and decision makers."

If Farnham did nothing wrong, the commission should say so sooner rather than later. If she did violate the law, the voters in Bangor and Hermon should know as soon as possible.

The commission should hear this complaint immediately and give the Maine political world something serious to talk about.

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