Democrats intimidating voters

Before Election Day, many Mainers received an ominous postcard in the mail that claimed to show whether their friends and neighbors had voted in past elections, and included a veiled threat that they too could be exposed if they didn’t do their civic duty and vote.

The threatening mailers angered some Mainers, but exactly who sent them remains a mystery.

The Alaska letter, however, left a single breadcrumb: a disclaimer from a super political action committee funded primarily by a retired chemical company executive in Oregon who is closely linked to industrialists Charles and David Koch, two of the most prolific funders of the modern conservative movement.

It also is a mystery – even to state elections officials – how the group apparently got hold of the state’s confidential voter database, access to which is limited by law.

“It definitely felt like an invasion of privacy,” said Sanford voter John Fahrenbruch, 50, who was a recipient of one of the mailers that sought to shame Maine residents into voting.

“I felt violated.” 2002 Press Herald file photo/John Patriquin Ballots in hand, a woman leaves a voting booth at Kennebunk Town Hall on Nov. A group behind subtly threatening mailers that went out to some Maine voters used personal data from Maine’s Central Voter Registration database, which contains detailed information about members of the state’s electorate, including party affiliation and when they voted.

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer “It certainly had a pungent odor to it,” said Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, whose office received dozens of complaints about the letter, mostly from registered Republicans, who appear to be the primary recipients.

The mailings also show how political strategists are continually finding new ways to exploit “keyholes” in campaign finance and communications laws in Maine and other states.