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Maine GOP Head Admits Running Anonymous Website That Attacked Candidates

Maine Public/file
Maine Republican Party Executive Director Jason Savage at a news event Oct. 12, 2016.

The Maine Republican Party's executive director has admitted that he ran an anonymous website that attacked liberal politicians and candidates. 

The admission by Jason Savage came less than a week before the Maine Ethics Commission will review a complaint by the Maine Democratic Party.

Democrats say the GOP and Savage may have broken campaign finance laws by not disclosing that the pieces were intended to hobble liberal candidate Ben Chin during last year's Lewiston mayoral race.

But the GOP says it neither authorized nor paid for the Maine Examiner website.

And Savage's attorney says the Republican operative worked on the site during his free time - and that he qualifies for the same exemption given to news outlets that run opinion pieces or damaging stories during a campaign.

But according to the ethics commission rules, the press exemption only applies to news outlets that operate for a year or more, and where the owners can be identified.  Savage did not reveal that he was running the site until last week.

The five-member ethics board will review the matter Thursday.