Saturday, May 25, 2013
A group that's advocating against the role of outside money and for transparency in Maine elections released a report Thursday listing the top privately financed legislative candidates over the past 10 years.
Andrew Bossie, director of Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, said the report was designed to show how the "Leader Board" financed their campaigns.
The analysis breaks down the top 10 privately financed candidates into three fundraising styles: Wealthy self-funders who finance most of their campaigns; candidates who rely on large contributions from political action committees and corporations; and candidates who fund their campaigns with a wide array of contributions.
The top 10 features five Democrats and five Republicans. The report covers the 10-year period in which public funding was available to Maine legislative candidates.
Bossie said the report was intended to show the value of campaign finance laws and contribution limits.
"Voters deserve to know who funds campaigns," Bossie said in a press release. "We believe that a better understanding about how private money influences public elections leads to a better informed electorate, and that leads to a healthier democracy in Maine."
The report showed that some candidates earned their spots in the top 10 by raising a lot of money over several election cycles.
The top spot went to John Linnehan, a Republican who spent more than $200,000 in his attempt to unseat Democratic state Sen. Dennis Damon in 2004.
Damon, No. 7 on the list, handily defeated Linnehan.
Democrat Paul Tessier of Fairfield was second. Like Linnehan, Tessier spent most of his money on a single race, his 2002 Senate bid.
Tessier spent his money in a hotly contested Democratic primary that he eventually lost.
Like Linnehan, who funded nearly 90 percent of his campaign with his own money, Tessier's campaign was 82 percent funded with his own money.
Other top spenders were Rep. Dana Dow of Waldoboro, Sen. Bill Diamond of Windham, Democrat Chris Hall of Bristol and Republican Gerald Davis of Falmouth.
The analysis doubles as advocacy for the Maine Clean Elections Act, the citizen-initiated law that allows legislative candidates to earn public funding for their campaigns by collecting a set number of $5 donations.
The law underwent significant changes marshaled by the current Republican majority in the Legislature.
Republicans, many of whom used public campaign funds, argued that the system was flawed and encouraged spending by outside groups.
Maine Citizens for Clean Elections says the changes weakened the law. It has vowed to take measures -- potentially at the ballot box -- to strengthen it.
The organization has since undertaken a series of reports to show the role of outside money in Maine elections. The report released Thursday is the second.
Close to 80 percent of legislative candidates have used the Clean Elections law since it was implemented in 2001.
Maine Citizens for Clean Elections is a nonprofit organization that receives private donations to conduct its advocacy. S. Donald Sussman, majority share owner of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, has contributed to the organization.
Staff Writer Steve Mistler can be contacted at 791-6345 or at: