April 20, 2013

Washington Notebook: Collins leads delegation's fundraising

By Kevin Miller kmiller@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

WASHINGTON - April 15 wasn't just Tax Day in Washington. It was also the deadline for members and would-be members of Congress to file their latest reports on how much cash flowed into and out of their campaign coffers in recent months.

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The U.S. Capitol in Washington.

The Associated Press

Among Maine's delegation, Republican Sen. Susan Collins had the most lucrative quarter as she gears up for the 2014 election. It's still unclear whether Collins will face a primary battle, although speculation persists about a potential challenge from the tea party or more conservative wing.

Collins reported raising just shy of $373,000 between Jan. 1 and March 31, giving her $1.2 million in her campaign account after deducting expenses, according to her filings with the Federal Election Commission.

Individuals contributed about $132,500 of the total, while political action committees made up the remaining $241,500 (PACs often account for a larger share of contributions so far out from elections).

According to a report compiled by Roll Call, senators or senatorial candidates in other states raised between $71,000 and $2 million during the same period.

Although not facing re-election for another 5½ years, Sen. Angus King reported raising $32,100 during the first quarter of the year, roughly half from individuals and $10,700 from PACs. The candidate himself reported contributing the remaining $5,000 to cover the costs of campaign events and other expenses.

In the House, 2nd District Democrat Mike Michaud reported raising $49,320 during the first quarter, more than $39,000 of which came from PACs. Michaud is mulling whether to run for governor rather than another House term in 2014 and is expected to announce his decision soon (as are fellow Democrats Rep. Chellie Pingree and former Gov. John Baldacci).

Pingree, meanwhile, appears to have put little effort into fundraising so far in 2014. Pingree raised just $6,791, $6,000 of which came from PACs. Her southern Maine district is considered less competitive than Michaud's more conservative northern district.


Pingree's husband, wealthy hedge fund manager S. Donald Sussman, appears to have made a substantial donation to Organizing for Action, the politically active "social welfare" group that was spun off of President Obama's re-election campaign.

Sussman, who is a well-known supporter of progressive political causes, donated $50,000 to the organization, according to a list of donors released by the group. He was among 16 people nationwide who contributed $50,000 or more to Organizing for Action, according to an analysis of the donor list by the Center for Responsive Politics, a watchdog group that focuses on political money and influence.

Organizing for Action has become involved in the debate over guns and immigration and plans to push other key aspects of the president's campaign agenda. The group's activities have raised a few eyebrows, however, after news reports that Organizing for Action plans to cultivate a "board" of mega-donors who contribute or raise $500,000 or more.

Because the group is a nonprofit social welfare organization, federal campaign contribution limits do not apply. Such nonprofits are also not required to disclose donors; however, Organizing for Action released a list of more than 1,400 donors who contributed $250 or more.

Sussman is majority share owner of MaineToday Media, publisher of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, the Kennebec Journal and the Morning Sentinel.


In last Sunday's Washington Notebook, we mentioned that two of the most prominent advocacy groups in the fight over gun control -- the always-formidable National Rifle Association and its newer opponent, Mayors Against Illegal Guns -- both planned to score senators on their votes this past week.

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