The Portland Press Herald did not charge the Portland Regional Chamber for $46,507.74 in political advertising the chamber placed on behalf of the Elect Our Mayor - Yes On 1 campaign in November, in which Portlanders narrowly decided to have a popularly elected mayor. (Image of the form is below.)
Whether this is a donation to the campaign on the part of the Press Herald - or a donation to the chamber on the paper's part - is at present unclear. (Phoenix contributing writer Al Diamon says it is, on his blog.) Yesterday, Jed Rathband, head of the Elect Our Mayor group; Chris O'Neil, a lawyer at Drummond Woodsum & MacMahon representing the chamber (update: Portland Community Chamber is O'Neil's client, not the regional chamber) described it as a gift from the Press Herald to the chamber that the chamber allocated to the campaign
Godfrey Wood, CEO of the chamber, had a little more information when I reached him today. "We have a sponsorship agreement" with the Press Herald, in which the paper donates advertising space to the chamber.
"They asked if we wanted additional ad space for this (campaign) and we said, 'Yes,'" Wood continued. That was the space reported as donated by the chamber to the campaign.
Kathy Jones, election administrator for the city of Portland, said she had not yet reviewed the information to see whether it was reported properly. O'Neil said that if it was not, he expected an amended form would be filed. Wood, for his part, said Kimberly Cook, who filed the report, called the Maine Ethics Commission while filling out the form, to ensure it was reported properly.
NOTE: This item came from a tip from Cyrus Hagge, a leader and chief funder (to the tune of more than $6000) of the group opposing the elected mayor position. Hagge not only criticized the Press Herald for its role in this, but also suggested that without such deep-pocketed support the mayoral campaign would have failed. Even apart from the $46,507.74, the Portland Regional Chamber and Portland Community Chamber, which are closely affiliated and are both led by Wood, were by far the largest donors. The other big donor to the pro-mayor campaign was Roxanne Quimby.