Early financial backers of Republican Rick Bennett’s campaign for the U.S. Senate include a number of individuals who represent the interests of corporate investors. Independent Angus King is relying on a solid foundation of Maine-based businesspeople, developers and attorneys. Republican Scott D’Amboise, a tea party activist, has many donors who responded to a costly professional appeal, but few live in Maine.
An examination of the campaign finances of 12 candidates vying to succeed Sen. Olympia Snowe reveals strong contrasts in the size, characteristics and geography of their respective donor pools. In some cases, it reveals which candidates appear to be the early favorites of particular interest groups, in others, potential weaknesses in the run-up to the June 12 primaries.
The campaigns of Republicans Bill Schneider and D’Amboise rely heavily on out-of-state contributors. Schneider’s tend to be business executives, lawyers and bankers who write big checks; D’Amboise’s are typically medium-sized donors from around the country who responded to expensive direct-mail campaigns.
Democrats Jon Hinck and Matt Dunlap have been in the race longer than most of their rivals, and in that time have each built a broad base of small donors.
Republican Charlie Summers and Democrat Cynthia Dill have yet to build donor networks to match those of their respective primary rivals. Dill has raised significant amounts from an online clearinghouse, however, while the Summers campaign depends on a handful of large donors. Four other candidates have yet to assemble a significant base of donors.
Together, the candidates have raised $1.16 million, less than half as much as Snowe had accumulated in her war chest before dropping out of the race.
Here is a sketch of each candidate’s donor pool, based on disclosures their campaigns filed with the Federal Elections Commission. The most recent disclosures were filed April 15 and cover activity from Jan. 1 to March 31 of this year. Snowe announced her retirement Feb. 28, and many candidates joined the race the following week, so their reports cover only their first three or four weeks of fundraising.
Candidates are required to file a fresh round of disclosures on May 30.
Scott D’Amboise (R)
$136,258 this quarter, $609,831 overall
Unlike his Republican rivals, D’Amboise, of Lisbon Falls, was running for Senate well before Snowe announced her retirement, and raised an impressive $473,573 last year, virtually all of it from out-of-state sources. This past quarter he maintained his fundraising pace and profile, generating over $136,000, more than 90 percent of it from outside Maine.
Unfortunately for D’Amboise, his net cash situation is far less rosy, as it has cost him nearly as much in fundraising expenses as he’s brought in. So far, the little-known tea party activist has spent more than $487,000, much of it to pay D.C.-area direct-marketing and -mailing list management firms. At the end of March, he had just $122,738 in hand, not much more than his establishment rival Bennett, who announced his candidacy March 2.
This past quarter, D’Amboise received just a handful of Maine-based donations. His local backers include L.L. Bean heiress Linda Bean and her mother, Hazel Dyer ($5,000 combined); Marian Comstock of Millinocket ($1,450); Eugene Bibber of Gorham ($1,000); and retiree Ken Poirer of Berwick ($400).
D’Amboise also received $5,000 from Freedom’s Defense Fund, an Arlington, Va.-based political action committee that, according to its website, “stands with conservative, pro-freedom candidates against the radical left and their elitist allies in the mainstream media” and for “the principles of limited government, as the Founders understood them.”
Angus King (I)
$173,561 this quarter and overall
After D’Amboise, King, a former Maine governor, dominates the fundraising field, raising more money this past quarter than all of the Democrats combined. Between declaring his candidacy March 5 and the end of that month, he raised an average of over $6,600 a day. As an independent, he doesn’t have to engage in a potentially expensive primary election, suggesting he will be able to marshal formidable resources for the general election in November.
That said, King, of Brunswick, was his own biggest donor, loaning his campaign $37,742. (He and his spouse, Mary Herman, and other close family members donated another $7,500). Another 20 percent of his war chest came from Lee Auto Malls chair Adam Lee and four of his family members (who gave a combined $25,000) and from Lee Auto Malls CEO John Isaacson and his wife, Linda (who donated $10,000 more). King has previously served on the board of the company, and on that of Hancock Lumber, whose CEO, Kevin Hancock, contributed $2,500.
Bernstein Shur, the Portland law-and-lobbying firm, also has been generous to King, with seven attorneys (and one of their spouses) giving a total of $9,150. King was hired by the firm in 2003 and his campaign manager, Kay Rand, has been managing director of its lobbying subsidiary.
Other major donors include Auburn realtor Barbara Trafton and her husband, Richard, an attorney ($10,000); biomass energy entrepreneur Robert E. Cleaves, owner of Portland’s Stratex Energy ($5,000); Nathan Deyesso of DSO Creative Fabrication in Scarborough, a furniture maker ($5,000); Patrick Gilgallon, project manager at Roxanne Quimby’s property renovation firm, Seaside Partners ($5,000); Bowdoin College senior vice president Catherine Longley ($5,000); Portland commercial developer Richard McGoldrick ($5,000); and Auburn architect Thomas Platz and his wife, Paula, a social worker ($5,000).
At this early stage, King has yet to attract many small donors, raising just $2,268 from people giving less than $200, just 1.3 percent of his total.
King spent $31,240 last quarter, the majority of it on computers and audiovisual equipment. He had $142,322 on hand at the end of March.
Rick Bennett (R)
$107,659 this quarter and overall
Bennett, a former state Senate president who lives in Norway and heads a firm that evaluates the quality of corporate governance, nearly matched Republican rival D’Amboise’s fundraising last quarter. His effort has focused on large donors – most from the financial and legal world – over 70 percent of them from out of state. Small donors (giving less than $200) accounted for just $2,859, or 2.7 percent of the total.
Interestingly, 30 percent of Bennett’s war chest came from individuals linked to a single national law firm, Robbins, Geller, Rudman and Dowd, best known for winning a $7.2 billion class action against Enron. All four partners and their spouses joined seven other of the San Diego firm’s senior attorneys to give a combined $38,000.
“Rick’s firm has worked with Robbins Geller and its pension fund clients for several years in helping create reforms in corporate governance to fix these troubled corporations so they won’t have such problems again,” Bennett’s campaign manager, Chris Jackson, said. “The partners in the firm have worked with Rick and know his commitment to corporate accountability and making sure corporate chieftains are serving the interests of the owners.”
Other large donors include W.C. and Sally Estes of Dallas ($7,500); Kris Estes and her husband, Stephen Binder of Lincoln, Mass., an investment manager who was Bennett’s roommate at Harvard ($5,000); Elizabeth Angelakis, a physician, and James Angelakis, a former vice president at Salomon Bros., of Concord, Mass. ($5,000); Brian Robbins, founder of San Diego law firm Robbins Umede ($2,500); Houston developer Richard Weekley ($2,500); and the Alamo PAC of Texas Rep. John Cornyn, which gave $5,000 to all the GOP U.S. Senate candidates in Maine, except D’Amboise.
Two other donors are prominent investor advocates seeking greater accountability for corporate directors. Frederick Rowe of Dallas, chair of Greenbrier Partners and founder and president of Investors for Director Accountability, gave $2,500. Former Maine GOP chair Robert A.G. Monks – who sits on the board of Bennett’s firm, GMI Ratings – and his wife, Millicent, gave $5,000. John Higgins, president of the investment-advising firm Monks founded in 1969, Ram Trust Services, also gave $2,500.
Other large donors with Maine ties include Tom Sawyer, a former state senator, now of Richmond Hill, Ga. ($2,500); Robert Ross of Sunset Farm in Auburn ($2,500); Nancy Chatfield of Cape Elizabeth, chair of a girls’ charity in Tanzania ($2,500); campaign manager Jackson of Bowdoinham ($2,000); and campaign treasurer and corporate lobbyist Josh Tardy of Newport ($1,000).
Bennett spent just $3,054 in the quarter and had $104,605 on hand at the end of March.
Jon Hinck (D)
$43,444 this quarter, $85,264 overall
Hinck, a Portland representative and environmental attorney, led the Democratic field in fundraising this quarter, even discounting the $10,000 he kicked in himself. He’s been running since last year and has given $20,000 to his campaign to date.
This past quarter’s disclosures show a full spectrum of donors, with the largest share coming from dozens of middle-sized donors ($200-$999) from across the state and attorneys from across the country. He also raised just under $10,000 from small donors (under $200), who do not have to be identified.
Large donors in the first quarter included Michael Page, an attorney with the San Francisco firm of Durei Tangri ($2,500); University of San Diego School of Law professor David McGowan ($2,000); Hinck’s paid campaign consultant Alexander Pearson of Portland ($2,025); attorneys James T. Kilbreth III of Verrill Dana, Peter Simshauser of Skadden, Arps in Boston and Julian Sweet of Berman & Simmons ($1,000 each); and Christian Herter of Linekin Bay Energy, which seeks to develop a large wind farm in Aroostook County ($1,000).
Hinck – who has several paid campaign staffers – spent $53,434 this past quarter, about $10,000 more than he raised. With just under $4,400 in the bank account, his campaign will likely have to pick up the pace in fundraising if it seeks to make a large, statewide advertising drive ahead of the primary.
Matt Dunlap (D)
$26,126 this quarter, $82,201 overall
Like Hinck, Dunlap of Old Town, a former Maine secretary of state, has been in the race since last year, and has generated $19,961 in donations via Act Blue, a nationwide online PAC that facilitates online giving to Democratic candidates.
This quarter, Dunlap has largely relied on smaller donors, raising $15,726 in non-reportable contributions and several thousand more in the $200-$500 range, suggesting a broad base of support within his party. Major donors include George Kerr, owner of the Surf 6 restaurant in Old Orchard Beach ($1,000); Jerry Long, a Connecticut-based consultant for PCC Technology Group ($1,000); and Herbert Sargent of the Sargent Corp., a construction company ($1,000).
Dunlap spent $25,037 on his campaign operations over the period, meaning he essentially broke even. He reported just under $40,000 in cash on hand.
Bill Schneider (R)
$40,095 this quarter and overall
Schneider, Maine’s attorney general, has a war chest largely comprised of donations from senior bankers, attorneys and business executives, many with ties to Texas.
Top donors include Ed and Marie Bosarge, chair of financial trading software maker Capital Technologies, who live in Houston and Southport ($5,000); campaign treasurer (and former Maine GOP chair) Joe Bruno and his wife ($5,000); Alamo PAC ($5,000); Jace Johnson, treasurer of a Budapest-based association of European cable companies ($5,000); aerial photographer (and former Texan) Chris Griffith of Scarborough ($2.500); David Houston of Bellaire, Texas, COO of Noble Consulting ($2,500); and Paul Mango, a Pennsylvania-based consultant with global business consulting powerhouse McKinsey & Co. ($2,500). Together, these seven donors comprised 69 percent of Schneider’s resources.
Schneider also raised $2,345 from small donors. He had $36,484 on hand at the end of March.
Cynthia Dill (D)
$24,908 this quarter and overall
Along with Dunlap, Dill, a liberal state senator from Cape Elizabeth, has made effective use of digital fundraising. Dill raised roughly half of her funds – $12,313 – via Act Blue, the online fundraising clearinghouse.
The other half of her war chest came from a mix of small and large donations, many originating in Greater Portland. Major donors included Imad Khalidi, CEO of Portland-based AutoEurope ($2,500); Thornton Academy teacher Thomas Clarke of Cape Elizabeth ($2,500); Burt’s Bees founder and major landowner Roxanne Quimby ($2,000); John Kane of Brooklyn, N.Y. ($1,000); and the PAC of Arlington, Mass.-based women’s empowerment group WAND ($500). She also raised $6,883 from small donors.
Dill had more than $18,000 in cash on hand at the end of March.
Charlie Summers (R)
$21,280 this quarter and overall
Summers, Maine’s secretary of state, raised virtually all of his funds from just eight sources, all but one donating $1,000 or more. Most are present or retired business executives from southern Maine.
His largest donors were Michelle and Paul Coulombe, co-presidents of family-owned White Rock Distilleries in Lewiston ($5,000), and Alamo PAC ($5,000). The others were Pioneer Telephone president Peter Bouchard of Falmouth ($2,500); Maine Heritage Policy Center board member W.R. Jackson Jr., a former president of heavy carbon steel firm Pitt-Des Moines ($2,500); Cape Elizabeth Realtor Julie Sheehan ($2,500); Florida retiree Giselaine Maltby ($2,500); and Theresa Desfosses and Gordon Smith, the president and vice president of State Manufactured Homes ($1,000 and $250, respectively).
Summers raised just $30 from small contributors.
Ben Pollard (D)
$9,000 this quarter and overall
Pollard, of Portland, a conservative Democrat and head of Pollard Builders, an environmentally friendly construction company, remains self-financed, and has expended most of his resources gathering signatures to get on the ballot. He had $5,151 in outstanding bills and $1,468 in cash on hand at the end of March, suggesting he may lack the resources to achieve needed name recognition before the primary.
Debra Plowman (R)
$5,262 this quarter and overall
Plowman, a conservative state senator from Hampden, has thus far failed to raise significant donations from within the state, but had saved up $5,100 at the end of March to fuel her GOP primary bid, almost all of it attributable to the $5,000 contribution from the leadership Alamo PAC. She also reported an additional $100 in small, non-reportable donations, and $162 from herself.
Bruce PolIquin (R)
Andrew Ian Dodge (I)
No money raised
Two candidates did not file disclosures, saying they did not raise enough – $5,000 – to be required to do so.
The campaign of Poliquin, the state treasurer, has stated that it expects him “to be the best-funded candidate” in the Republican primary race, noting he “set records for the amount of money raised” during his 2010 gubernatorial primary bid.
Dodge, of Harpswell, former coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots and self-described “non-Ron Paul libertarian,” said he has since met federal thresholds and will be filing a disclosure next quarter. “Fundraising has picked up significantly recently,” Dodge said. “It will continue to do so after my attending the Libertarian Convention in Las Vegas this weekend helped get my name out there to freedom-lovers.”
Staff Writer Colin Woodard can be contacted at 791-6317 or at:
CORRECTION: This story was updated Sunday, May 19 to reflect that Angus King has raised more money this past quarter than all of the Democrats combined.