Question are swirling among Maine Republican insiders following the transfer of more than $86,000 from a committee aimed at helping elect Republicans to the House of Representatives to the personal leadership PAC of a former House Minority Leader.
The House Republican Fund transferred $86,567.22 to One Maine, a committee run by former Rep. Kathleen Dillingham (R-Oxford), on November 17, 2022.
That big transfer raises two question.
First, why wasn’t that money spent during an election season that saw Maine Republicans battered across the state and left with a minority in the House?
And, second, why is money nominally reserve for future House races now flowing into Dillingham’s personal control?
The answer to the second question lies in the paperwork difficulties new leadership often face when taking control of political committees like the House Republican Fund. According to Dillingham, she went through a big headache when she entered leadership trying to get control of the related bank accounts.
She said the move would make it easier for incoming House Minority Leader Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham (R-Winter Harbor) and Assistant Minority Leader Rep. Amy Arata (R-New Gloucester) to assume control of the caucus’ finances.
“I transferred the balance out of the House PAC account and moved it to my One Maine account so I could close out the account and Rep. Faulkingham and Rep. Arata could go open up their own bank account without having to worry about meeting with me or getting signatures,” she said.
Faulkingham confirmed that that was the plan for the unspent funds.
In regard to the first question — that is, why the House Republicans left $86,000 in the tank during an election cycle that saw them brutalized by the Democratic Party — Dillingham chalked it up to logistical issues and a surge of late donations to the PAC.
“For House Republicans, we are the only caucus that actually picked up a seat,” she said. “Trying to get independent expenditures done, and radio ads, and mailers, with late money coming in, we just couldn’t find an opportunity to use it,” she said.
According to campaign finance records, the House Republican Fund received $54,300 in contributions during October, spent $136,658 on races, and ended the period with little more than $103,450 cash on hand.
“We did the best we could spending and trying to cover as many seats as we could and certainly put a lot of money, I feel, into seats we lost,” she said.
She said her post-election analysis couldn’t find a rhyme or reason as to why Republicans lost House races across the state, but said abortion was an issue that drove votes more than pre-election polls might have suggested.