August 16, 2012

Pingree files financial disclosure form

By John Richardson jrichardson@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, has filed her first personal financial disclosure report since marrying S. Donald Sussman, a wealthy financier, philanthropist and political donor.

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U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree

Pingree, who previously had one of the shortest personal financial disclosure reports in Congress, needed an extension this year and filed a 12-page report this week, filled mostly with details about her husband's finances.

The report for 2011 shows Sussman has various real estate and stock investments totaling more than $32 million, though it doesn't include specific income or asset amounts.

Pingree's report has been posted online by the clerk's office of the House of Representatives. The other three members of Maine's congressional delegation filed before the annual May 15 deadline, and their reports are now online.

The reports, which reveal private sources of income for members of Congress and their spouses and children, are considered a fundamental way for voters to know whether elected officials have private financial interests and what they are.

The reports do not reveal precisely how wealthy the members are, because they show only broad categories of incomes and asset values. That is especially true for spouses and children, who are subject to less detailed reporting requirements.

For most of Maine's delegation, the reports for 2011 look much like the reports for 2010.

Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe has the longest report, listing at least $10 million in assets held by her and her husband, former Gov. John McKernan. Snowe owns or shares ownership of at least $4.5 million of that, with the rest belonging to McKernan.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins and Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud filed more basic reports reflecting much more modest assets.

Pingree's report has the most new information this year because of her marriage in June 2011 to Sussman, whose wealth has helped make him an influential civic and political figure.

Sussman founded a billion-dollar-plus investment fund based in Greenwich, Conn., Paloma Partners, and is the chairman of Trust Asset Management LLP, an investment firm specializing in alternative investment strategies.

This year, Sussman became the majority share owner of MaineToday Media, which owns the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, the Kennebec Journal in Augusta, the Morning Sentinel in Waterville and other media outlets in Maine. That investment is not reflected in the report for 2011.

Sussman has donated millions of dollars to charities and to struggling businesses around Maine in the past two decades. He got little public attention until 2010, when his engagement to Pingree and support of liberal and Democratic causes drew criticism from Republican and conservative activists.

He is often identified as a billionaire, although he has not specified his net worth and was not required to as part of Pingree's financial disclosure.

Sussman referred questions about the financial report to Pingree's spokesman, Willy Ritch, who declined to provide more information about his wealth.

Ritch said Pingree needed extra time to make sure she filed correctly and completely this year because of the marriage. He said more than 100 members of Congress got routine extensions.

Pingree's report shows that she received interest income of as much as $999 from JP Morgan Chase Bank on an investment of between $1 million and $5 million.

Pingree also owns the Nebo Lodge, a five-year-old inn and restaurant on North Haven that was valued at $500,000 to $1 million last year, the report says. That investment did not produce net income in 2011, she reported.

Pingree's report lists dozens of Sussman's investments, including real estate in Maine and outside the state and a variety of corporate stock. Those investments total more than $32 million, the report says. Income from those investments exceeded $8 million in 2011, the report says.

Sussman's real estate investments include properties in Portland, Augusta, Saco and Deer Isle. He also owns David's Folly Farm in Brooksville, an organic farm valued at more than $1 million. The report doesn't include Sussman's homes on North Haven and on St. John in the Virgin Islands, apparently because they don't generate income.

Other assets include Magic Carpet Enterprises LLC, the corporate owner of Sussman's private jet. It is valued at over $1 million.

He also has large stakes in biotech and alternative energy companies. The report shows he invested between $250,000 and $500,000 in Maine's Own Organic Milk in February 2011.

Snowe, who will be retiring this year, appears to remain Maine's wealthiest member of Congress. She and her husband are mostly invested in stock mutual funds, bond funds and money market funds.

McKernan had more than $2 million invested in stock and options of Education Management Corp., a Pennsylvania-based for-profit higher education company, according to Snowe's report.

McKernan stepped aside as chairman of the company's board of directors effective Wednesday, although he remains a member of the board.

The company was one of 30 criticized in a recent U.S. Senate committee report accusing the industry of predatory recruiting, high tuitions and high dropout rates.

Staff Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 791-6324 or at:

jrichardson@pressherald.com

 

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