If you want to see what someone values, look where they spend their personal funds and money they funnel through political action committees that they run. That was the idea behind a series of Bangor Daily News stories examining where all the candidates for Maine governor have spent their political cash over the last few decades.
In many cases, the analysis revealed contradictions between the candidates’ actions and words. More broadly it gave an idea of the candidates’ neworks and history.
Here is a summary of what the BDN learned about each candidate, in alphabetical order. Their contributions from their personal pockets date back as far as the early 1990s. Information on what their political action committees spent dates back a decade, to 2008.
Ken Capron, an independent from Portland, has put $128 toward his previous unsuccessful campaigns for the Maine House.
Alan Caron, an independent from Freeport, gave exclusively to Democrats and campaigns to support gay marriage and the Maine Clean Election program before putting $250,000 of his own money into his current campaign for governor, mostly in the form of loans that he intends to recoup later through campaign fundraising.
Attorney and Maine Army National Guard member Adam Cote, a Democrat, has put a sizeable amount of cash into his gubernatorial campaign but, of his Democratic competitors, has given the second lowest amount to other Democratic candidates and causes over the years.
Donna Dion, a former Biddeford mayor, has given the least of the Democratic candidates, handing out $450 to other candidates and campaigns since 1994, mostly to support same-sex marriage.
State Sen. Mark Dion, D-Portland, raised $55,500 through his political action committee and gave most of it to party committees, such as House and Senate Democratic campaign committees. He has also given $250 to the congressional campaign of now Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling, and $100 to a 2011 campaign to preserve same-day voter registration.
Former Speaker of the House Mark Eves funneled the most money into Democratic politics of any of his Democratic rivals. His political action committee was the most active, giving about $86,000 to the House Democratic Campaign Committee last year and a total of about $90,000 to Democratic candidates and causes since 2010.
Republican House Leader Ken Fredette has distributed more PAC money than anyone in the gubernatorial race, allocating it to Republican candidates or causes. Most of his spending — $118,000 — was funneled through his political action committee as part of his bid to lead the Maine House. About three in four of those dollars came from corporate sources.
State Treasurer Terry Hayes, an independent, first gave money from her PAC to Republicans, then Democrats. After becoming dissatisfied with politicking in the Maine House, she unenrolled from the party in 2014. From 2014 to 2016 she gave $500 to independent Eliot Cutler’s campaign for governor and $350 to support ranked-choice voting.
Independent John Jenkins, a former state senator and mayor of both Lewiston and Auburn, has only supported himself in the past — with a $300 contribution to help his 2002 campaign for governor.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason opposed Maine’s taxpayer-funded campaign system but is using it to fuel his run for governor. Though his political action committee gave money to prevent an expansion of the Maine Clean Election program in 2015, he has received $400,000 from that very program to run his campaign.
Former Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew, a Republican, has given personal funds to Democrats and Republicans alike, both to support personal friends and bolster her previous work as a lobbyist. She represented the Beer and Wine Wholesalers of Maine before working for the Maine Hospital Association. She has not run a political action committee.
Attorney General Janet Mills has a long history of giving that extends back to 1990, and all of her donations — $14,000 — came from her own pocket. Her total giving, however, falls far short of other candidates who have run political action committees.
Republican and businessman Shawn Moody has a short history of political giving. He made his first contribution to a Republican House candidate in 2012. In 2010 he ran as an independent against Gov. Paul LePage.
Former Portland Rep. Diane Russell, a Democrat, is the top recipient of payments from her political action committee, which has a stated purpose to “help support Democrats in winning seats in the Maine House.” She gave herself $12,823, while $1,550 went to support other candidates or campaigns.
Progressive consultant Betsy Sweet is campaigning against money in politics, but has given thousands to Democratic candidates and causes personally and through her business. For instance she gave $2,000 to Strimling’s 2008 bid for Congress and $1,350 to John Baldacci’s 2002 run for governor.
Money isn’t everything, but it’s one more way to learn about the candidates ahead of the June 12 primary.
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