AUGUSTA — Maine’s campaign watchdog panel has cleared a state senator from Bangor of improperly coordinating with a political action committee to direct $73,000 into ads against her opponent.

The Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices voted unanimously Wednesday to clear Republican Sen. Nichi Farnham of illegal coordination between her campaign and a PAC to which she was named an officer.

Farnham’s race against Democrat Jeff Gratwick is one of the most closely watched and competitive legislative races as Republicans seek to maintain control at the State House.

Democrats were quick to point out that the ethics commission found the PAC at fault for failing to update its registration paperwork when the principal officers changed and fined it $250. The original complaint was filed by the Maine Democratic Party.

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