Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows has found herself at the center of a national media firestorm following her decision last week to remove former President Donald Trump from the 2024 Maine GOP primary Ballot.
But less than a decade ago, she found herself in a far more subdued role: Interim Executive Director for Learning Works, a non-profit founded by socialist activist Ethan Strimling.
Strimling, the former mayor of Portland, was the ringleader behind the ballot eligibility challenge filed with the Secretary of State’s office that provided a pretext for Bellows’ ruling.
The professional connection between Bellows and Strimling hasn’t received much attention since Strimling filed his complaint.
But it raises questions as to whether the pair of partisans coordinated in the effort to interfere in the Maine Republican Party’s nomination election.
Bellows official biography, which appears on her Maine.gov page and several other locations, mentions her brief stint at the Portland-based non-profit.
The nonprofits’ 2015 Form 990 tax filing lists Strimling as the CEO (with a salary of more than $100,000) and Bellows as Intern Exec.
There is no salary information listed for Bellows, likely because her partial year compensation did not exceed the reporting requirement.
The tax filing also shows the nonprofit took in nearly $3.3 million in taxpayer-funded government grants.
By the time Learning Works filed a Form 990 for 2016, Bellows had been replaced by Heather Davis, and Strimling had been replaced by Douglas Libby.
In 2016, Bellows earned nearly $70,000 from the nonprofit.
The Maine Wire has filed a public records request with the Secretary of State’s office seeking all communications between Bellows and Strimling.