WASHINGTON – April 15 wasn’t just Tax Day in Washington. It was also the deadline for members and would-be members of Congress to file their latest reports on how much cash flowed into and out of their campaign coffers in recent months.
Among Maine’s delegation, Republican Sen. Susan Collins had the most lucrative quarter as she gears up for the 2014 election. It’s still unclear whether Collins will face a primary battle, although speculation persists about a potential challenge from the tea party or more conservative wing.
Collins reported raising just shy of $373,000 between Jan. 1 and March 31, giving her $1.2 million in her campaign account after deducting expenses, according to her filings with the Federal Election Commission.
Individuals contributed about $132,500 of the total, while political action committees made up the remaining $241,500 (PACs often account for a larger share of contributions so far out from elections).
According to a report compiled by Roll Call, senators or senatorial candidates in other states raised between $71,000 and $2 million during the same period.
Although not facing re-election for another 5½ years, Sen. Angus King reported raising $32,100 during the first quarter of the year, roughly half from individuals and $10,700 from PACs. The candidate himself reported contributing the remaining $5,000 to cover the costs of campaign events and other expenses.
In the House, 2nd District Democrat Mike Michaud reported raising $49,320 during the first quarter, more than $39,000 of which came from PACs. Michaud is mulling whether to run for governor rather than another House term in 2014 and is expected to announce his decision soon (as are fellow Democrats Rep. Chellie Pingree and former Gov. John Baldacci).
Pingree, meanwhile, appears to have put little effort into fundraising so far in 2014. Pingree raised just $6,791, $6,000 of which came from PACs. Her southern Maine district is considered less competitive than Michaud’s more conservative northern district.
Pingree’s husband, wealthy hedge fund manager S. Donald Sussman, appears to have made a substantial donation to Organizing for Action, the politically active “social welfare” group that was spun off of President Obama’s re-election campaign.
Sussman, who is a well-known supporter of progressive political causes, donated $50,000 to the organization, according to a list of donors released by the group. He was among 16 people nationwide who contributed $50,000 or more to Organizing for Action, according to an analysis of the donor list by the Center for Responsive Politics, a watchdog group that focuses on political money and influence.
Organizing for Action has become involved in the debate over guns and immigration and plans to push other key aspects of the president’s campaign agenda. The group’s activities have raised a few eyebrows, however, after news reports that Organizing for Action plans to cultivate a “board” of mega-donors who contribute or raise $500,000 or more.
Because the group is a nonprofit social welfare organization, federal campaign contribution limits do not apply. Such nonprofits are also not required to disclose donors; however, Organizing for Action released a list of more than 1,400 donors who contributed $250 or more.
Sussman is majority share owner of MaineToday Media, publisher of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, the Kennebec Journal and the Morning Sentinel.
SCORING GUN VOTES
In last Sunday’s Washington Notebook, we mentioned that two of the most prominent advocacy groups in the fight over gun control — the always-formidable National Rifle Association and its newer opponent, Mayors Against Illegal Guns — both planned to score senators on their votes this past week.
So how did Maine’s senators do?
Well, neither group has officially released its “scorecards” yet, but it’s safe to say Republican Sen. Susan Collins and independent Sen. Angus King received good and bad marks from the organizations on key votes, including:
• Background checks: On the highest-profile issue — a proposal to require background checks prior to private gun sales occurring at gun shows or after being advertised online or in print — both King and Collins supported the expansion. That put them on the wrong side of the NRA, which called the compromise “misguided” in a letter to senators, but on the right side of Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
• Assault weapons ban: The opposite was true on the proposal to ban so-called “assault rifles.” Both King and Collins voted against the ban, which they did not believe would be effective. That earned them good points in the NRA’s system and a bad score with the mayors group.
• Magazine capacity: King voted for a proposal to ban larger-capacity ammunition magazines while Collins voted against it.
So King’s vote fell in line with the mayors group’s desires while Collins’ vote was consistent with the NRA’s position on the measure.
• Gun trafficking: A proposal to criminalize gun trafficking and straw purchasers in federal law had the support of both the NRA and the mayors group but failed nonetheless in Wednesday’s highly politicized voting. Collins, who was co-author of the bill, and King both voted for it. It was unclear whether the NRA would score lawmakers on their vote on that proposal, however.
So out of those four votes, Collins appears to have racked up two positive scores from the mayors group and three positive scores from the NRA. King had three positive scores from the mayors group and two positives from the NRA.
Kevin Miller can be contacted at 317-6256 or at:
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