AUGUSTA — A city councilor seeking re-election had to pull the plug on his daughter’s efforts to raise money for his campaign by holding a raffle because doing so violated state gaming laws.

Augusta at-large Councilor Dave Rollins said his adult daughter, Katie, has since contacted all donors and entrants in the raffle and all of them said they intended their contributions as donations to his re-election campaign, and said the campaign can keep the money.

That’s fine, as far as the Maine State Police are concerned.

“We asked that he cease and desist (the raffle), return the money, and don’t issue any prizes,” said James Gass, an inspector with the Maine State Police Special Investigations Unit. “I told him, if (people who contributed money to the fundraising raffle) turn around and want to donate the money to the campaign, that’s their choice.”

Gass said he has not previously dealt with a political campaign holding a raffle but said he frequently comes across raffles run by individuals or groups who should not be running them. He said there is a lot of misunderstanding about raffles and organizers found to be running raffles in violation of Maine regulations are generally told to stop, return the money, and not to issue prizes.

There was no formal action by the state against Rollins; Gass said he merely had a phone call with Rollins asking him to stop.

Rollins is serving his second term and seeking re-election. He faces a challenge from Harold F. Elliott Jr., who said Monday he had heard “a couple of tidbits” about Rollins’ fundraising raffle but wasn’t aware of details about it.

“Whatever happens, happens,” Elliott said. “We all have our ways of trying to raise some funds. You should have all your questions answered before you strike out on something like that.”

Gass said he first learned of the raffle from the Maine Ethics Commission, which had been contacted by a member of the public asking questions about the online raffle, which was conducted through a website for Rollins’s campaign.

Rollins said his daughter, through the website www.gofundme.com, conducted a raffle for an iPad — with anyone who contributed $20 or more to his campaign, through the site, being entered in the raffle.

“She obviously loves her dad, and was just trying to help,” Rollins said of Katie’s fundraising efforts, which brought in about $1,800 in donations from 66 people.

Last week Rollins received an email from Jonathan Wayne, executive director of the Maine Ethics Commission. While the commission does not have jurisdiction over municipal campaigns for elected office, Wayne said he was aware raffles in Maine are restricted to nonprofit organizations that have been in operation for at least two years.

Wayne, in what he described as an “informal suggestion,” asked Rollins to give Gass a call to double check that the raffle complied with state law.

Gass said it appeared to him the raffle was being run in Maine and, because Rollins’ campaign didn’t qualify as a group allowed to have a raffle, needed to be halted.

Rollins said the campaign hadn’t actually received any of the money yet, nor had the iPad prize been awarded. He also said the winner of the prize, and every other donor, said they wanted the campaign to keep their contributions as donations, even without the raffle.

Rollins said he and Katie did some initial research and concluded a raffle would be OK. He said the rules were confusing, but they didn’t see anything that suggested the raffle would be illegal.

Rollins said he ended the raffle right away, even though Rollins said his daughter ran the raffle out of Boston, not Maine.

“Katie immediately complied,” Rollins said.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

 

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