April 28, 2013

Washington Notebook: Collins, King in spotlight on key issues

By Kevin Miller kmiller@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

WASHINGTON - It was a busy week in Washington for Maine's two senators, both of whom played high-profile roles in some of the biggest debates on Capitol Hill.

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Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.

Seeking to address what she dubbed "a manufactured crisis," Republican Sen. Susan Collins was a primary author of a budget fix that will allow the Federal Aviation Administration to end the furloughs of air traffic controllers.

The compromise, which Collins negotiated with several other lawmakers and the Senate leadership, emerged late Thursday after most other senators had left town. An identical measure passed the House on Friday afternoon and was sent to President Obama.

As occupants of two of the 15 seats on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Collins and Sen. Angus King also popped up all over the national news talking about the Boston bombings and allegations of the Syrian government's use of chemical weapons.

"We've already had the experience in Afghanistan of arming the opposition and then having those arms used against us five or 10 years later," King, an independent, told Bloomberg Television when asked about arming the Syrian rebels. "What I'm hearing is that the opposition is armed and they're getting arms from other people. They don't necessarily have to get arms from us."

Collins, meanwhile, was among lawmakers questioning whether the law enforcement community's lines of communication were fully open after receiving briefings on the Boston bombing suspects.

Collins and King also tried but failed to attach an amendment to a bill that will allow states to collect sales taxes from out-of-state online retailers. The bill moved forward without the amendment but they intend to try again prior to the next vote.


Mainers contributed nearly $150,000 to President Obama's inaugural celebrations but the state ranked near the bottom nationally in the total number of donors.

The bulk of the $149,320 donated to Obama's Presidential Inaugural Committee came from three donors, according to a spreadsheet of publicly available donor information compiled by The Sunlight Foundation, which tracks money in politics.

S. Donald Sussman of Portland, a hedge fund manager who is also a major donor to Democratic and progressive causes, led that small group with his $100,000 donation. Sussman is married to Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree -- who contributed $305 -- and he is the majority share owner of MaineToday Media, which publishes the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel.

Roger Milliken of Cumberland, who is president and CEO of the forestland management firm Baskahegan Co., contributed $37,500, while Terra Lynn Swift of Kennebunkport gave the inaugural campaign $10,000.

Five other individuals, including Pingree, contributed between $300 and $605. All told, Obama's second inaugural committee raised more than $43 million in private and corporate donations.

While Obama won more than 55 percent of the vote in Maine in November 2012, the state's residents were not overly generous when it came to helping pay for the president's post-victory celebrations.

Maine and Wyoming were tied for the second-lowest number of donors, with eight each. The only state with fewer donors was North Dakota with six, according to the data compiled by The Sunshine Foundation.


The menu was all-Maine during a reception on Capitol Hill last week that drew so many people that some vendors actually ran out of food.

(Continued on page 2)

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