The socialist activist and former Portland mayor who filed an objection to former President Donald Trump’s ballot eligibility in Maine is using Secretary of State Shenna Bellows’ Thursday ruling to raise money for an alleged nonprofit organization.
The activist, Ethan Strimling, has asked subscribers to the “Swing Hard, Turn Left” email list to contribute money to his efforts via Act Blue, but it’s unclear exactly where contributions to the link in that email will end up.
The organization — “Swing Hard, Turn Left” — appears to have failed to file a Form 990 tax report with the IRS in recent years, apart from a 2020 filing. Such reports are an annual requirement of 501(c)4 organizations that receive donations.
In 2020, the last year for which Strimling’s Form 990 filing is publicly available, he reported $46,857 in contributions from anonymous donors. According to the filing, $10,500 of that money was paid out in salaries, with $10,100 of that money going directly to Strimling.
It’s unclear what exactly the group does other than raise money for Strimling’s salary, what activities that salary supported, or where the rest of the money went.
The “Swing Hard, Turn Left” YouTube channel is dormant, has only five subscribers, and typically received tens of views per episode when it was active.
Strimling also appears to have let the registration for his website –SwingHardTurnLeft.com — expire.
Nonetheless, Strimling sent out an email Thursday night to solicit donations, claiming that the money he receives will help “keep Trump off the ballot in 2024”.
“Will you help us defend this monumental decision? Will you help us keep Trump off the ballot in 2024?,” Strimling asks.
Adding to the lack of clarity around how donations to Strimling will be used is his acknowledgement that the attorneys representing him are doing so pro-bono.
Further, any potential challenge from the Maine Republican Party in Maine Superior Court will involve the Secretary of State, whose lawyers will be paid for by Maine taxpayers.
Strimling, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, filed a claim that Trump was ineligible to hold office because he violated Article III of the 14th Amendment, which prevents someone who participated in a rebellion or insurrection from holding office in future.
The complaint claimed that Trump incited an insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, when protestors entered the U.S. Capitol Building.
Trump has previously been impeached for that incident by the U.S. House of Representatives — and was acquitted by the U.S. Senate — but Bellows sided with Strimling.
Strimling served one-term as mayor of Portland, but his tenure was mired in controversy, beginning with the revelation that he had carried on an extramarital affair with his campaign manager, Stephanie Clifford, and was divorcing his wife of ten years just months into his term.
In that election, Strimling won with 9,162 votes, but voters apparently soured on the then-Democrat politician.
In 2019, Strimling lost his re-election bid handily, garnering just 4,575 votes compared to 7,119 for winner Kate Snyder and runner-up 5,110 Spencer Thibodeau.