Sunday, November 28, 2010

Maine: Who bankrolled LePage?

A lot of people didn't want Tea Party darling Paul LePage to become Maine's next governor; he squeaked to victory with just 38 percent of the vote -- one point higher than independent Eliot Cultler -- winning not a single daily newspaper endorsement. Prone to temper tantrums and the utterance of erroneous statements, Mr. LePage's animus against environmental regulations, health care reform, and the Maine Human Rights Act alienated a great many independents, who form the plurality of Maine voters. Democrats and Greens were a lost cause.

I've been curious who liked LePage enough to not only vote for him, but to actually bankroll his campaign. There are two ways to explore this. The first is to examine lists of donors who gave directly to his campaign, which provides a sense of his grassroots support here in Maine. The second is to look at the sources of the real corporate-scale cash that poured in from the Republican Governors Association, paying for many of the negative ads aimed at undermining his opponents. I've had a quick look at both.

Direct campaign donations are limited to $750 per real or corporate person, making it hard for any one interest group to dominate a candidate's war chest. Even so, a few names and interest clusters stick out.

Pre-primary donors -- people who thought LePage was the best Republican candidate -- included Linda Bean, her sister Diana Bean, and her mother Hazel Dyer ($750 each) and Eric, Peggy, Tucker, Michael, Kenneth, Erica, and Emily Cianchette ($750 each, except Emily who gave $500).

General election donors included James, Robert, Darin, and John Quirk of the Quirk Auto Group ($750 each), Sandi, Sam, Corey, Toby, and Sandra Knight of the Knight Auto Group ($750 each); , David, Sigrid, and Jane Marden of Mardens ($750 each), incoming House speaker Robert Nutting ($750), state Sen. Peter Mills ($750), Caspar Weinberger Jr. ($350), Portland developer Joe Boulos ($750); Rite Aid ($250); First Wind LLC ($750), Emerson Toyota of Auburn ($750), Central Maine Motors and their owner ($750 each); Howard Dana of lobbying powerhouse Verill Dana ($750), Maine Health president William Caron ($750); Linda Bean and Diana Bean again ($750 more each); Peter, Eric, Mac, Kenneth and Priscilla Cianchette ($750 each), Matthew, Lori, Jennifer, Lon, Christopher, and Kerry Sue Walters of Woodlands Assisted Living ($750 each); and Dean Scontras ($200). Amusement parks also like LePage, who got $750 donations from Palace Playland in Old Orchard Beach and the owners of Aqua Boggin. So do anesthesiologists, including their state association ($750) and their main employer here, the Spectrum Group ($500). (If you want to browse Mr. LePage's disclosures yourself, you'll find them all here.)

But the really big cash behind LePage was funneled into the race via the Republican Governors Association's Maine PAC, which spent nearly a million dollars on media buys supporting LePage or attacking his opponents. Who really brought those ads? Fifty out of state corporations and industry associations to whom LePage owes a great debt including:

(Those wishing to research the RGA Maine PACs donors and expenditures on their own can do so via this page.)

I'll be keeping an eye out to see if any of these firms show up in Maine, looking for contracts or legislation.

[Update, 1/20/2011: I've taken a more detailed look at these donors and their interests in Maine for the Portland Phoenix.]

[Update, 1/24/2011: LePage has nominated a CCA warden to head the Dept. of Corrections.]


  1. As I noted earlier this month, there is an obvious reason why the pharmaceutical industry gave at least $751,000 to the RGA Maine 2010 PAC: Maine Rx:

  2. @Gerald: Alas, suspected as much. Will be interesting to see the final disclosure reports as well.

  3. How about turning the microscope in another direction, and ask WHO bankrolled Chellie Pingree!!

    Actually, it's very easy and makes for a short, short investigative piece: S. Donald Sussman!

    Even the "independent expenditure" groups who filled Maine's airwaves with negative attack ads were funded by Sussman. Follow The Money - - - and it leads straight back to Sussman every time!

    This New York/Connecticut/Virgin Islands billionaire BOUGHT a House Seat in Maine with his Fast-and-Loose Wall Street bankroll.

    But maybe because the out-of-state billions are backing a liberal Democrat... it's all OK?

  4. @Anonymous of 8:40 am: Don't you worry your little heart out: Sussman is a great subject for following the money and has and will continue to appear in World Wide Woodard. But you're changing the subject, playing into stereotypes of LePage supporters. Let's stick to the topic at hand, shall we?

  5. Hi: I searched your archives, and didn't see a word about Sussman, his ill-gotten gains, the current SEC investigation over the "women-owned" hedge fund he started, or his purchase of Maine's seat in the U.S. Congress.

    Please list a few dates where you have tracked some of Sussman's money and influence-buying in Maine.

    Thank you

  6. Did you check to see if any of these corporations and industry associations contributed to the Mitchell and/or Cutler campaigns as well? I know that drug companies for example often donate a lot of money to both sides, I guess because they want to be on the good side of whoever is in power. It would be more interesting to know who donated to LePage and *not* (or significantly less) to others.

  7. @Anonymous: I stand corrected. The Sussman reference I was thinking of was from one of my linked Down East articles found here:

    You'll also find I happily dig into the disclosures of everyone, regardless of party. For example:

    But, again, you're changing the subject.

    @Brad: I haven't, but that's an excellent idea when I find the time. (One wishes staff reporters who are actually paid for their time would do this...)

  8. The donations noted above were made to the Republcian Governors Assoc PAC in Maine (RGA Maine 2010 PAC), not to the LePage campaign directly. The Dem Gov Assoc (DGA) also spent money supporting Mitchell, but not nearly as much. Mitchell, of course, was a CE candidate, and so was not able to take direct donations of any kind.

    Maine is somewhat unique amongst the states, in that we require donations to PAC's to be made open. This is what NOM is fighting now before the Maine Ethics Commission, and what Maine Leads (the activist arm of the MHPC) did earlier. Of course, the Citizens United v. FEC has changed the playing field, and so now is a group does not "advocate" but merely "educates" they do not have to disclose their donors.

    This is why the DISCLOSE Act is so important, and explains why Snowe and Collins oppose its passage.

  9. @Gerald: If you read my post, that's exactly where I say the donations came from:

    "But the really big cash behind LePage was funneled into the race via the Republican Governors Association's Maine PAC..."

  10. Now LePage is talking about allowing CCA to build a prison in Milo. Milo?

    Maine doesn't need private prisons. The public ones are bad enough. Keep up your great work Colin.

  11. Looks like the contribution is paying off for K12 Inc.

    They're behind one of the applications to the state commission under the new law to operate a virtual charter school.