March 15, 2010

Summers asks Pingree to return campaign funds


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Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer: U.S. Senate candidate Chellie Pingree visits with voters at the pancake breakfast at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Saco on April 19, 2008.

Tim Greenway

Staff Writer

Republican Charlie Summers has asked his opponent in the race for Maine's 1st District congressional seat to return any campaign contributions she has received from ''moguls on Wall Street.''

Democrat Chellie Pingree, who has received at least $52,000 in this campaign from hedge-fund employees, declined the challenge and promised to keep working for campaign finance reform and tighter regulation of the financial industry.

Summers said he believes that Mainers are angry about the nation's current financial crisis and tired of Washington politicians who take special-interest money and do favors for friends on Wall Street.

Summers pointed to the latest campaign funding reports, filed June 30, which show that he had raised $289,000 and spent $235,000, while Pingree had raised $1.6 million and spent $1.4 million.

More than $52,000 in Pingree's pot came through wealthy hedge-fund manager S. Donald Sussman, whom she has been dating for several months. The money includes contributions from his colleagues at Paloma Partners, a hedge fund based in Greenwich, Conn.

''I am calling on my opponent to return that money, and any money that she has received from moguls on Wall Street,'' Summers said in a statement. ''It's the right thing to do, particularly when we're talking about spending roughly $700 billion of the taxpayers' money to bail out Wall Street giants who went wrong.''

Pingree and Summers are vying for the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Tom Allen, who is challenging U.S. Sen. Susan Collins on Nov. 4.

Summers said he has asked his staff to determine whether any contributions to his campaign have connections to hedge funds. If they do, he said, he will return he money. ''My opponent has an obligation to do the same,'' said Summers, who lives in Scarborough.

Pingree spokesman Willy Ritch issued a written response for his candidate, who lives on the Penobscot Bay island of North Haven.

Ritch said Pingree is a staunch supporter of campaign finance reform and public financing of elections, who hopes to fight for real campaign finance reform in Washington.

Ritch also said Pingree wants Congress and the FBI to investigate the current financial crisis and prosecute anyone who committed fraud. She believes the salaries of chief executive officers should be capped and the companies that get bailed out should repay the money in stock options.

''She has consistently called for closing tax loopholes used by private equity and hedge fund managers and a repeal of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy,'' Ritch said.

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

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