ELIOT CUTLER

ELIOT CUTLER

AUGUSTA

Independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler announced Monday he will not accept campaign donations from any political action committees for the 2014 election — a move his campaign says will put him in office with no strings attached but which a spokeswoman for Democrat Mike Michaud said would have little effect on his spending.

Crystal Canney, a spokeswoman for Cutler, said Cutler had decided earlier in the campaign and announced the decision on Monday, one day ahead of a campaign fundraising filing deadline for candidates that serves as a benchmark for support.

“It’s really important to us that Eliot be unbought,” said Canney. “This allows him the freedom, when he gets to Augusta, to lead.”

Cutler, who narrowly lost the gubernatorial election to Republican Paul LePage in 2010, received two donations that year from state and federally registered political action committees worth $750 each, according to data on the Maine Ethics Commission’s website. They came from Nestle Waters North America Inc. and Time Warner Cable.

While it represented a fraction of Cutler’s available funds in 2010, donations from PACs added up for Republican Gov. Paul Le- Page, whose campaign declined comment.

LePage accepted 35 donations from PACs in 2010, which totaled $22,050. Those donations came from PACs inside and outside Maine, including the American Insurance Association, Free and Strong America, Haley’s Leadership PAC, the Maine Beverage Association, the Maine Energy Marketers Association, the Pharmac eutical Research & Manufacturers of America, the Retail Lumber Dealers Association of Maine, Nestle Waters North America and U.S. Cellular, among others.

Lizzy Reinholt, a Michaud spokeswoman, said Cutler’s stand is relatively inconsequential.

In Maine, “PACs can’t have any more influence than individuals do,” she said, referring to the fact that they adhere to the same contribution limits as individuals.

“It’s not a surprise that [Cutler] would bar PAC money,” Reinholt said. “Given the fact he has no major endorsements, he probably doesn’t have PACs lining up to donate.”

Personal spending by candidates could be another factor. LePage and his wife, Ann, donated more than $181,000 to his election bid in 2010, according to the Maine Ethics Commission. Cutler spent more than $1.7 million of his own money.

Though Cutler, Michaud and LePage are presumed to be the three major gubernatorial candidates, none of them can begin collecting the necessary signatures to qualify for ballot placement until next month. The filing deadline for those signatures isn’t until March.

Reinholt and Brent Littlefield, LePage’s chief campaign consultant, said they were happy with their fundraising totals to date, though no campaign would disclose any details. FOR MORE, see the Bangor Daily

News at bangordailynews.com.


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