Inside Augusta

Over 80% Of Cash Raised To Support Question 1 Is From Out-of-State

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According to an October Quarterly Report filed by Mainers for Accountable Elections, over 80% of the money they’ve raised for their campaign has come from out-of-state.

The organization, which is behind Question 1, has raised a staggering $1.2 million in support of the referendum.  That’s up from just over $300,000 raised according to a July report.

Most of the money raised, however, has been contributed from outside of the state.  Less than 1/5 of Mainers for Accountable Elections’ money comes from Mainers.

The cash was donated by organizations and individuals located from as far away as California to Amherst in neighboring Massachusetts.

As noted in previous reporting, Sean Eldridge of New York, a failed congressional candidate and progressive activist financier, provided much of the early financial support to Mainers for Accountable Elections.  The most recent report filed with the Maine Ethics Commission shows that Eldridge has doubled his earlier $100,000 donation, making his total contributions thus far $200,000.

[SEE ALSO: Major Donor to Maine Campaign Finance Group Has History of Attempting to Buy Election]

Since July, Eldridge has been joined by several other wealthy financiers looking to influence elections in Maine.  Celebrated director J. J. Abrams has dipped into his personal wealth to support Question 1, as has Colorado heiress Pat Stryker.

However, even such vast individual gifts were easily outpaced by the funding from national progressive organizations.  Proteus, a liberal group funneling money from progressive financiers based in Massachusetts, has dropped over half a million dollars into Maine in support of Question 1; more than Eldridge, Abrams, and Stryker combined.

In comparison, Question 1’s opponents had only managed to raise $1,600 by the end of September.  Mainers Against Welfare for Politicians (MAWP) has risen up as the only organized opposition to Mainers for Accountable Elections.  MAWP was created in late September, giving it less than a week to raise money before filing its October Quarterly Report.

Paula Sutton, who ran for State Senate last year, started the PAC just two weeks ago with $200 from her own pocket.  Since then, Sutton claims her PAC has raised over $25,000 to defeat Question 1–all raised from real Mainers.  While it isn’t much compared to Mainers for Accountable Elections $1.2 million, it does show that opposition to Question 1 in Maine is growing.

“Out of state billionaires are bankrolling the push to get big money out of Maine politics is the height of hypocrisy,” said Paula Sutton.  “They claim to be Mainers for Accountable Elections, and they are lying because the vast majority of people who are footing the bill are not from Maine.”

“We cannot hope to compete with their massive war chest of cash, but what we can do is spread the truth by  talking to our neighbors and friends about the hidden evil and lies perpetrated by the promoters  of Question 1,” she added.  “Once people learn the truth about these outsiders trying to tell us what to do, they will be angry enough to vote no on Question 1.”

No one from Mainers for Accountable Elections responded to a request to comment prior to publication.

About Nathan Strout

Nathan Strout is a Development Associate with The Maine Heritage Policy Center as well as a staff writer for The Maine Wire. Born and raised in Portland, Strout is a graduate of Eastern University with a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in Legal Studies.

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