June 20, 2018
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Where Maine’s elected officials, challengers stand on accepting NRA donations

Seth Perlman | AP
Seth Perlman | AP
File photo of an National Rifle Association hat.
By Christopher Cousins, BDN Staff
Updated:

In the wake of the mass shooting Wednesday at a high school in Florida, members of Congress who have received campaign contributions from the NRA have come under harsh criticism.

Campaign finance data from the Federal Election Commission show that federal and state candidates from both major political parties in Maine have accepted donations from the National Rifle Association of America’s Political Victory Fund.

Here’s where the Maine people who serve in Congress and most of the challengers who want to replace them stand on NRA campaign contributions:

U.S. Senate

Independent incumbent U.S. Sen. Angus King: “Sen. King has not received any money from the NRA. Senator King believes it is possible to address gun violence while also protecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Maine citizens, and has supported legislation to accomplish both of those goals,” spokesman John Faherty said.

Eric Brakey, Republican challenger: “I am a staunch defender of the Second Amendment and am both an NRA member and concealed carry permit holder. I will gladly accept donations from the NRA and any other gun rights group that defends the rights of citizens to bear arms.”

Federal Elections Commission filings show that Brakey accepted a $250 donation from the NRA in 2016 for his Maine Senate campaign.

Max Linn, Republican challenger: Linn said he would accept donations from the NRA. “Their donation would be used to help promote the Maine Now Agenda, educate the voters concerning their Second Amendment rights, and be used to help defund Planned Parenthood.”

Zachary Ringelstein, Democratic challenger: “I am emphatically refusing to accept money from the NRA and all PACs because no profit-driven special interest should have any influence over our U.S. senators. The NRA has the blood of children on its hands because it buys the votes it needs in Congress to sabotage popular, common sense legislation.”

Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, who is not up for re-election this year: “The NRA has never endorsed Susan Collins and the last time they contributed to her campaign was 16 years ago, in 2002,” spokeswoman Annie Clark said.

1st Congressional District

Democratic Incumbent U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree: “Congresswoman Pingree has never accepted money from the National Rifle Association. She believes the NRA’s grip on Congress has prevented many members from acting in the wake of horrific mass shootings, like the one that took 17 lives at a Florida high school this week. Congresswoman Pingree will always vote to keep our communities and classrooms safe over accepting a check from the gun lobby,” spokeswoman Victoria Bonney said.

Mark Holbrook, Republican challenger: “Yes, I have accepted a donation from the NRA. Yes, I hope they will support me again. … I am a Patriot Level Life member of the NRA and I am a NRA certified pistol instructor. I am a member because the NRA is the only national organization that I know of that works to defend our Constitution. I believe the Constitution is the law of the land and not a work in progress and we must abide by it.” FEC data shows Holbrook received a $1,000 donation from the NRA in his unsuccessful 2016 campaign to unseat Pingree.

2nd Congressional District

Republican Incumbent U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin: “Maine has a long tradition of responsible firearm ownership going back generations. The National Rifle Association has a large number of members in Maine who support the organization and Congressman Poliquin has been pleased to have those Maine members’ support in the past,” spokesman Brent Littlefield said.

FEC data shows that Poliquin has accepted at least six direct donations totalling $16,850, including $2,000 in the current election cycle.

Jared Golden, Democratic challenger: “Jared has not taken money from the NRA and he wouldn’t if it was offered. … Jared has taken a reasoned, common-sense approach to gun issues in the Maine Legislature. He has maintained a good working relationship with the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine and he recognizes that the NRA has little interest in common-sense or bipartisan solutions on gun safety,” campaign spokesman Jon Breed said.

Lucas St. Clair, Democratic challenger: “I own guns. I shoot and hunt. I believe in the Second Amendment. But we have to find a place in this country where we can talk about gun violence without retreating to our corners. … I have not and will not accept donations from the NRA, but the real issue is not their organization. It’s politicians who won’t stand up to them and to other special interests.”

Jonathan Fulford, Democratic challenger: “I have not received and will not accept corporate PAC or lobbyist money. … If all candidates take the pledge we could loosen the hold the NRA has on Congress.

Craig Olson, Democratic challenger: “I have not, nor would I accept donations from the NRA. I will not accept funds from them because I believe the NRA has an undue influence on U.S. gun policy. The organization’s rhetoric and deep pockets are the reason we can not sit down and have a rational conversation about guns and the use of guns for hunting and sport.”

Timothy Rich, Democratic challenger: “I have not [accepted donations from the NRA] and would not.”

Also among recent prominent elected officials who have accepted donations from the NRA are former Democratic 2nd District Rep. Mike Michaud and Republican Gov. Paul LePage.

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