Opponents of the 13 ballot questions to be considered by Portland voters this fall have raised far more money than supporters and hold a significant fundraising advantage one month before the November election.

Three groups formed to oppose ballot questions collectively raised $590,924 from July 20 to Sept. 30 and have $388,896 remaining, according to new campaign finance reports filed with the city this week. Most of the money was raised by Enough is Enough, which raised $439,138 and has $282,025 left.

Supporters of ballot questions collectively raised $13,599 during the reporting period and have $19,049 left, including money raised prior to the latest reporting period. The groups have mostly spent money on advertising, marketing and campaign materials.

Maine DSA for a Livable Portland, the ballot question committee formed to support four citizen-initiated referendums brought forward by the Maine chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America’s Livable Portland campaign, raised $9,308 this period and has $5,003 left.

Wes Pelletier, chair of the Livable Portland campaign, responded to the latest fundraising reports in a statement Friday, saying the groups opposed to the referendums and charter questions “posture as though they represent workers, renters and every day working-class Portlanders,” but that “what these campaign finance reports make clear, though, is that they in fact represent big business, out-of-state corporations, developers and landlords.”

“Livable Portland has raised a small fraction of the amount raised by our opponents, and we take great pride in that,” said Pelletier, who noted that a majority of donors to the campaign were from Maine and gave less than $100 each. “We have no paid staff or consultants, and our dozens of volunteers pour time and labor into this fight because we’re not in it for the money, we’re in it for the many.”


Enough is Enough was organized to defeat all 13 questions, though the group has mostly focused on the four questions sponsored by the DSA. Part of its message is that there are too many referendums on the ballot and it’s too difficult to know the unintended consequences of each, let alone how the proposals might affect each other if multiple questions pass.

Matt Marks, a spokesperson for Enough is Enough, said Friday that the group “was pleasantly surprised by the amount of people who contributed both small amounts and large amounts to say, ‘Hey, we’re tired of this.'”

Some of their largest donations include $50,000 each from Uber and DoorDash. The group also received $25,000 from a San Francisco company, Seaforth Housing. Supporters of the ballot questions were critical of such donations Friday.

“It is disappointing that the leaders of Enough is Enough – former councilor Nick Mavodones and local property owner and developer Ned Payne – have decided to bring this much money into local politics,” the group Yes for Democracy, which supports the eight charter commission proposals, said in a statement.


Marks said he wasn’t aware of any substantial donations to Enough is Enough that didn’t have a local connection. Uber and DoorDash have employees in Portland whose jobs would become more difficult under Question D, which seeks to raise the city’s minimum wage, because of a provision impacting their status as independent contractors, he said. And he said Seaforth Housing operates an apartment building in Portland.


Enough is Enough also drew criticism from supporters of the referendums this week after it missed the Wednesday deadline to file its campaign finance report. Both Marks and a spokesperson for the city of Portland said that was due to a typo in the email address used to submit the report. Marks said that after the group was notified of the error, it filed the report with the city Thursday. There will be no penalty for the late filing, city spokesperson Jessica Grondin said.

Fair Elections Portland, a group supporting the charter commission’s clean elections proposal (Question 3), said in a statement Thursday that they were “disappointed but not surprised that this anti-democratic campaign can’t be bothered to follow the basic disclosure requirements already in place.”

Anna Kellar, the group’s chair, was glad to learn Friday that the report had been filed. Kellar’s group raised just $501 this period, not counting $3,200 in in-kind donations, and has $9,612 on hand. Kellar said the group believes there is broad support in Portland for the clean elections proposal, which would create a mechanism for publicly financing candidates for local office, and isn’t worried about being outspent.

Kellar also said the amount of money raised by Enough is Enough and other groups highlights the need for the proposal, which would mostly impact campaign spending on candidate races. Although a provision prohibiting foreign contributions would apply to ballot questions.

“We see a lot of the same interest groups that are giving to this ‘No on the referendums’ campaign also giving to candidates,” Kellar said. “It’s a lot of the same players – realtors, major restaurant associations. All these groups, while they have a legitimate voice in the political process, they shouldn’t be able to use these contributions to have extra say.”



Enough is Enough has spent a substantial amount of its money raised – $124,613 – with LFD Strategies in Scarborough. The address listed on the campaign finance report is the same as the address for Red Hill Strategies, a public relations and consulting firm that was co-founded by Lance Dutson, a consultant who has worked on a number of Republican campaigns.

Marks confirmed Friday that Enough is Enough hired Dutson to work mostly on digital advertising. The Maine DSA tweeted Thursday that Enough is Enough “is being secretly run by a GOP operative named Lance Dutson.”

Dutson did not respond to messages seeking an interview late Friday, but Marks said it shouldn’t matter whether the firm being used to buy and place ads is run by a Republican or Democrat. “The messaging is not slanted in any way, shape or form,” he said.

Two other ballot question committees registered with the city also raised significant funds to oppose referendums. Restaurant Industry United, which opposes Question D and its elimination of the sub-minimum or tip credit wage, raised $128,700 and has $87,989 left.

And Protect Portland’s Future, which is opposed to Questions 2 and 5 from the charter commission, raised $23,086 this period and has $18,882 left.

Restaurant Industry United’s largest donations include $25,000 each from Uber and DoorDash, and $50,000 from the National Restaurant Association. It also received smaller donations from a handful of Portland restaurants, including Bruno’s Restaurant and Tavern, Gritty McDuff’s, DiMillo’s on the Water and Dock Fore.


Greg Dugal, a spokesperson for Restaurant Industry United, said all members of Hospitality Maine, a trade group representing the hospitality industry in Maine, are members of the National Restaurant Association, which is why the group is backing its campaign.

And he said Uber and DoorDash not only rely on restaurants for business but have workers in Portland who could be impacted by Question D. “They operate in the city of Portland and their product is available in the city of Portland,” Dugal said. “They have to represent their interests as well. … We all know that what they do will be severely altered if what is proposed passes.”

Uber did not respond to an email Friday asking about its donations. In a statement, a spokesperson for DoorDash said, “Our mission is to grow and empower local economies, and we do that by helping to connect customers in Portland with the best of their community. These sweeping measures would have a devastating impact on the ability of local businesses – including the merchants we support in Portland – to serve their customers while threatening the flexible earning opportunities that Dashers overwhelmingly tell us they value.”


Pay for “dashers” is based on estimated time, distance and desirability of an order, customer tips and promotions, the company said. On average, dashers earn over $25 per hour, including 100 percent of tips, and work fewer than four hours per week, the company said.

Information on the Livable Portland campaign’s website says Question D “will ensure that all independent contractors (including food delivery workers, Uber and Lyft drivers) will be paid the full minimum wage, so that they do not continue to be exploited by companies that only provide inconsistent income.”


At a City Council meeting in August, one Uber driver told the council he frequently picks up rides at the Portland International Jetport. In one case, he gave someone a ride to Boston for $102 and Uber took $35. “That was 102 miles down, and I had to come back all the way to Portsmouth with no ride,” said the driver, Louis Ouellette. “So how much am I out as an independent business and myself?” He said he supports Question D.

“I think this is a step in the right direction and I would be interested in working with the sponsors, as well as the forthcoming department, in ironing out the details to assist myself and other drivers that move this city to make things fair and equitable,” he said.

But another driver, identified in the meeting minutes as Ed Ahlemeyer, said he was surprised to hear support for the proposal.

“The whole reason I’m an Uber driver is so I don’t have to be somebody’s employee,” Ahlemeyer said. “That’s what will happen if this passes. We will be forced to be employees. I will lose flexibility in my job. … If you want the benefits of being an employee, don’t be an independent contractor. That right shouldn’t be taken away.”

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