Wednesday July 18, 2012 | 10:23 AM

(Updated with response from King)

Maine Republicans are calling out former Gov. Angus King for going to Washington, D.C., today to rub elbows with big-name fundraisers and lobbyists.

Charlie Webster, the GOP Chairman, criticized the independent U.S. Senate candidate for decrying special interests in Maine and then leaving the state to ask for their money. 

"This is the height of hypocrisy - telling the working people of Maine one thing while at home, but doing another in Washington D.C.," said Charlie Webster, Maine GOP chairman. "This is exactly the kind of say one thing, do another attitude that Americans are sick of in Washington."

Webster also pointed out that the lead organizers of the benefit are lobbyists for oil and pharmaceutical interests as well as big Democratic fundraisers. "It's increasingly clear that 'independent' Angus King isn't so independent after all," he said in the release.

The King campaign responded with a written statement saying he has to be prepared to fend off efforts to defeat him by the parties and partisan special interest groups.

"This is the beginning of what we expect to be a real dogfight and I will need to defend myself," he said. "I take no joy from this and hope to work to reform our election finance laws if I am elected to the Senate."

King also said in the statemnt that he is making no promises to donors about siding with Democrats. "As I said at a fundraising event in Washington in June and as was reported in Politico -'If you’re a solid partisan and you need to know what caucus I’m going to be with, don’t give to me now because I may not be with you.' "

Washington D.C. power couple and longtime Democratic supporters Tony and Heather Podesta are hosting the Capitol Hill fundraiser this evening and King will be the beneficiary. 

Politico obtained the invitation and Press Herald reporter Steve Mistler wrote about it yesterday in his blog, Capitol Ticker.

The Republican news release cites quotes from King when he ran for governor and said that being an independent meant he could reject help from “special interests,” including PACs.

King is not snubbing political action committees in his Senate campaign. He has received more than $63,000 in donations from PACs, including the American Association for Justice PAC, Engineers Political Education Committee, the American Health Care Association PAC and Google netPAC.

Also, King is the only candidate in the Senate race to so far get help from a so-called super PAC, a committee that spends independently on as candidate’s behalf rather than donating to the campaign directly and being subject to disclosure rules and contribution limits.

A super PAC called IcPurple, spent more than $23,000 as of last month to produce a television and online ads supporting King.

King has said he would discourage all super PAC help if the other candidates do the same. Democrat Cynthia Dill responded that she wanted  more details about the idea before making any commitment, while Republican Charlie Summers dismissed it as a gimmick

About the Author

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Open Season is your guide to the 2014 campaign. Our team of political writers has its sights set on Maine’s major elections, from the Blaine House to the U.S. Capitol.

Steve Mistler is covering the 2014 governor's race. He covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald. He spends a lot of time in the hallways of the State House.
Steve can be reached at 791-6345 or smistler@pressherald.com.
On Twitter: @stevemistler

Eric Russell is covering Independent Eliot Cutler during the 2014 governor's race. He is a general assignment reporter for the Portland Press Herald.
Eric can be reached at 791-6344 or erussell@pressherald.com
On Twitter: @pphericrussell

Matt Byrne is covering Republican Paul LePage during the 2014 governor's race. He covers Falmouth, Cumberland, North Yarmouth, Yarmouth and Freeport for the Portland Press Herald.
Matt can be reached at 791-6303 or mbyrne@pressherald.com
On Twitter: @mattbyrnePPH

Randy Billings is covering Democrat Mike Michaud during the 2014 governor's race. He covers Portland City Hall for the Portland Press Herald.
Randy can be reached at 791-6346 or rbillings@pressherald.com
On Twitter: @randybillings

Kevin Miller is covering Maine's U.S. Senate race and 1st Congressional District race. He covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald.
Kevin can be reached at 317-6256 or kmiller@pressherald.com
On Twitter: @kevinmillerdc

Michael Shepherd is covering Maine's 2nd Congressional District race. He is a news and State House reporter for the Kennebec Journal.
Michael can be reached at 621-5632 or mshepherd@centralmaine.com
On Twitter: @mikeshepherdME

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