AUGUSTA — Ethics investigators got clearance Wednesday to look into whether campaign finance reports filed by supporters of a casino proposed last year in Lewiston properly disclosed the source of their funding.

Members of the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices voted 4-0 to authorize the investigation, finding sufficient grounds to believe that a violation may have occurred.

A complaint filed by Dennis Bailey of CasinosNo! prompted the investigation. Bailey questions whether nearly all of the money for the unsuccessful campaign came from GTSource, a company in Georgia that makes gaming equipment. Campaign finance reports show that GTSource donated $412,000 of the $438,000 spent on the campaign.

Key to the case is an agreement signed by the manager and members of Great Falls Recreation & Development LLC, the Lewiston company that had an option to buy Bates Mill No. 5 from the city to develop the casino. Under the agreement, a corporation called M Five Inc. would have acquired that option from Great Falls.

No one from M Five signed the agreement, which Bailey provided to the ethics commission. In a letter to the commission dated Dec. 22, Bailey pointed out that one officer of M Five is Dwayne Graham, chief executive officer of GTSource.

“What was the true source of the funds for the PAC? Was it GT Source or M5? Was GT Source merely the conduit of funds from M5 and if so, is that a violation of campaign finance laws?” Bailey wrote.

In response, Peter Robinson, treasurer for the political action committee Green Jobs for Maine, said Wednesday that he complied fully with campaign finance reporting requirements, and that GTSource did provide the money.

Robinson said he was told by the ethics commission’s staff before the campaign to list the original source of all contributions, and that was GTSource.

“I’m taking exception to this implication that we got caught and now we’re changing our story,” he said. “I don’t think it’s right to make it sound like we’re trying to cover something up.”

In an email to Jonathan Wayne, the commission’s executive director, Graham wrote that he would not comply with the commission’s request for information to prove that his company made seven contributions totaling $412,000.

“I do thank you for the offer to participate in this request,” he wrote, “but I feel I have spent enough time in trying to help the city of Lewiston and the state of Maine without a positive outcome. The voters have spoken loud and clear and I have moved on.”

On Nov. 8, voters statewide rejected the casino proposal 63 percent to 37 percent.

Bailey also has said there’s little public information about Dome Messaging, a Virginia company that was paid nearly $375,000 for polling and its work as a media buyer for the casino campaign.

As part of an initial investigation, ethics commission officials have tried to track down a contact name for Dome Messaging. Its website lists an email address, but no names of people who work for the company. Wayne said he wants information about who’s behind the company.

Commission member Jane Amero agreed.

“It doesn’t pass the straight-face test that a company that runs all kinds of marketing campaigns doesn’t identify who they are,” she said. “I think it’s very curious.”

Investigators will report back to the commission at a future meeting.

Also Wednesday, the commission:

* Did not take up a complaint from the Maine Democratic Party alleging that state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin violated state law by failing to disclose his private business on a report.

The commission’s staff is awaiting a response from Poliquin, and the matter will likely be taken up at the commission’s next meeting, on Feb. 29.

Despite repeated requests from MaineToday Media, Poliquin has not publicly commented on the questions about his eligibility to serve as treasurer while continuing private business activities.

* Failed to reach consensus on a complaint filed by Michael Hein of Augusta against the Christian Civic League of Maine.

Hein, a former administrator for the league, alleged that the league should have disclosed that it sent an email encouraging people on its distribution list to go to an event in support of state House candidate Raymond Wallace, a Republican from Dexter.

Wayne said he will likely ask the league to amend its political action committee report to reflect the email, although he noted that it likely cost very little to send the communication.

Susan Cover — 620-7015

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