AUGUSTA, Maine — Democrat Cynthia Dill is telling her main independent rival in Maine’s U.S. Senate race that she’s open to negotiating an agreement that results in the candidates disavowing outside spending from so-called super-PACs.
But the state senator from Cape Elizabeth also wants former Gov. Angus King to agree to further restrictions aimed at limiting money’s influence in the Senate contest, including pledges that cap campaign contributions at $500 each and keep the candidates from personally bankrolling their campaigns.
“These specific terms … are easier to implement than a super-PAC agreement, because they are things we actually control,” Dill wrote in a letter to King released by her campaign Thursday. “And they reflect Maine values.”
Dill’s letter is a response to a challenge King issued to his rivals last week to craft an agreement that discourages spending in the race by super-PACs, outside groups that can spend unlimited sums supporting or opposing candidates as long as they don’t coordinate the spending with any campaign.
Republican Charlie Summers, Maine’s secretary of state, responded to King’s challenge last week with a statement that didn’t directly address the super-PAC challenge, but accused King of focusing on “the intricacies of campaign finance” rather than substantive issues. His campaign has not followed up with another response.
Independent Steve Woods of Yarmouth said he would participate in an agreement that discourages super-PAC spending. Andrew Ian Dodge of Harpswell, another independent in the race, called the King challenge “unworkable.”
In an email to the Bangor Daily News, the King campaign said the super-PAC agreement won’t work unless every candidate in the race signs on. The campaign said it has been focused on super-PACs, rather than other campaign finance restrictions, because super-PACs can spend unlimited sums and remain largely anonymous.
“It’s unfortunate that the other candidates refused to enter into this discussion,” said King campaign spokeswoman Crystal Canney.
In her response letter, Dill also challenges King to take a stand on a variety of campaign finance-related legislation, including proposals that strengthen disclosure requirements for super-PACs and allow congressional candidates to qualify for “Fair Elections” funding.
In an interview last week with the Bangor Daily News, King said he supports strengthened disclosure requirements for super-PACs, but didn’t explicitly say he supported the Disclose Act legislation that Dill is supporting.
“People have a right to know who’s trying to influence their votes,” King said.
So far, King is the only candidate in the Senate race who has benefited from super-PAC money. A group called icPurple Inc. spent $24,000 in May producing an online advertisement supporting King. As part of his super-PAC challenge, King said he would ask icPurple “to take down those ads.”
King, Dill and Summers have accepted campaign contributions of more than $500. Campaigns can collect a maximum of $2,500 from any individual during both the primary and general election cycles.
And King and Summers have each financed their own campaigns to some level. Summers loaned his campaign $50,000 less than two weeks before the June 12 primary. King loaned his campaign almost $38,000 in March.