AUGUSTA – Two political action committees backed by organized labor spent more than $700,000 in support of Democratic gubernatorial nominee Libby Mitchell, according to recently filed campaign finance reports.

Citizens Who Support Maine’s Public Schools spent a total of $423,000, mostly on advertising supporting Mitchell or opposing Republican Paul LePage and independent Eliot Cutler.

The PAC was staffed by Mark Gray, executive director of the Maine Education Association, and received about $200,000 from the MEA. The Washington-D.C.-based group Emily’s List, which supports pro-choice Democratic female candidates, donated $250,000 to the PAC.

During the campaign, LePage and Cutler supported the creation of charter schools and merit pay for teachers in Maine — policies opposed by the MEA and Mitchell.

Mitchell used public money for her campaign, spending about $1.8 million. Cutler and LePage ran privately funded campaigns, spending about $2.1 and $1.4 million, respectively.

The pro-public schools PAC donated $100,000 to another labor-funded PAC, Jobs, Justice and Environment, according to records filed with the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices.

That group spent about $314,000 on behalf of Mitchell. It received donations of $40,000 from the Washington-D.C.-based union organization SEIU-COPE and $150,000 from the Democratic Governors Association.

Staff time and other in-kind donations were made by the MEA, the Maine state workers union, the Maine Peoples Alliance, Equality Maine, the Democratic Governors Association and the MEA-backed PAC Citizens Who Support Maine’s Public Schools.

Equality Maine, an equal-rights group with its own PAC, spent about $389,000.

The Campaign for Maine PAC, a pro-Cutler group, spent about $533,000 leading up to Election Day. Chris Harte, a former publisher of The Portland Press Herald who lives in Maine and Texas, was a major supporter of the PAC, contributing $25,000 in cash and loaning it $180,000.

About $115,000 in loans has been repaid. The PAC has a balance of about $12,000 and debts totaling $7,000, according to the latest report.

Shawn Moody, an independent gubernatorial candidate, recently filed his last finance report with the ethics commission. Moody raised about $4,400 during the reporting period Oct. 20 to Dec. 7. He loaned himself an additional $6,300 during that period, for a total of $506,000 for the campaign — none of which has been paid back. His total spending for the campaign was $567,000. 

MaineToday Media State House Writer Rebekah Metzler can be contacted at 620-7016 or at:

[email protected]