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August 21, 2013

John Ewing / Staff File Photo

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine

Maine's Pingree ranked 12th wealthiest in Congress

By Kevin Miller
kmiller@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree reported earning up to $1,000 aside from her congressional salary last year, but the Maine Democrat still ranks as one of the wealthier members of Congress because of her 2011 marriage to a financier, according to reports.

Members of Congress are required to publicly disclose any outside income beyond their $174,000 base salary as well as the general value of investments, real estate, bank accounts and debts for them and their spouses. The vague reports preclude precise calculations of lawmakers' net worth, but do offer a sense of their financial status.

Pingree, who represents the 1st Congressional District, reported a bank account valued at $1,000,001 to $5 million that generated up to $1,000 in interest income, according to financial disclosure reports filed with the U.S. House last week. The reports were due in May, but Pingree received an extension until Aug. 15.

She owns an inn and restaurant on the island of North Haven valued at $500,001 to $1 million. Pingree did not report any income from the seven-year-old Nebo Lodge business, however, because it did not turn a profit last year, according to staff in the congresswoman's office.

Pingree's report shows that $500 was donated to charity for a speech she gave to an organic farming group. Members of Congress are not allowed to receive payment for speeches.

But Pingree's husband's substantial assets landed her at No. 12 on the newspaper The Hill's annual tabulation of the 50 wealthiest members of Congress. The latest ranking was released Tuesday.

Nearly all of the more than $30 million in investments and real estate listed in Pingree's report was attributed to her husband, S. Donald Sussman, a financier, philanthropist and prominent political donor to progressive and Democratic causes.

Sussman is also majority share owner of MaineToday Media, which publishes the Portland Press Herald, the Kennebec Journal and the Morning Sentinel.

Sussman was not required to disclose even a range of his income under the House rules for spouses. The sum of his individual assets exceeded $30 million but is likely far higher because the House disclosure forms do not require an upper limit for individual assets valued at more than $1 million.

Sussman's investments run the gamut from real estate to software and sunscreen manufacturers.

Pingree's disclosure report shows that Sussman owns multiple properties in Portland as well as Goose Cove Lodge in Deer Isle and David's Folly Farm in Brooksville, the latter two each valued at more than $1 million.

He also listed investments of more than $1 million with Maine's Own Organic Milk, an organic milk processor. The disclosure reports also show two stock purchases in MaineToday Media in March 2012 valued at more than $2 million.

The majority of the larger assets attributed to Sussman on Pingree's report were with out-of-state investment and real estate firms.

Pingree spokesman Willy Ritch declined to comment on the specifics of the financial disclosures. Asked whether her husband's investments affect Pingree's work in Congress, however, Ritch replied, "Absolutely not."

"These are his investments and she is not going to be influenced by what her husband is invested in," Ritch said.

Pingree began serving this year on the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

Maine's other representatives in Congress filed their disclosure forms this past spring.

Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, reported assets with his wife, Mary Herman, valued at $5 million to $26 million after accounting for mortgages and other debts.

Those included four investment funds valued at $1,000,001 to $5,000,000 each.

King reported more than $380,000 in noninvestment earnings last year, including $10,140 from Bowdoin College, where he teaches, $30,488 from his state of Maine pension as a former Maine governor, and $225,000 as the executor of the estate of Roger C. Kline.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins and her husband, Tom Daffron, had total assets of $600,000 to $3.8 million. Collins did not report any noninvestment income outside of her Senate salary.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, who represents the 2nd District, reported income of $28,000 and $86,000 last year on top of his congressional salary.

He earned $2,232 from his pension with the International Association of Machinists plus income on rental properties in Millinocket.

Michaud also reported assets – including real estate and investment funds – of $243,000 to $772,000.

This story was updated at 8:57 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 21 to correct the amount of earnings reported by Chellie Pingree aside from her congressional salary. An additional $500 was donated directly to charity.

Washington Bureau Chief Kevin Miller can be contacted at 317-6256 or at:

kmiller@mainetoday.com





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