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Posted: Apr 16, 2015

In Maine’s 2nd District, money comes from financial hands, national stars, new friends

Up Country

In his 2016 re-election race, U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin of Maine’s 2nd District raised an impressive total of $700,000 in the first three months of the year.

That was more than five times the $136,000 total raised by his likely opponent, Democrat Emily Cain. But a look at their filings, posted to the Federal Election Commission’s website in the last day, explains how that happened.

Poliquin was heavily reliant on PACs and large donors, while Cain’s far smaller donor pool consisted mostly of individuals. But that doesn’t tell the whole story.

Here are my four key takeaways from the filings:

  • Poliquin raised nearly as much money from financial services industry political action committees as Cain raised overall.

By my count, $133,000 of Poliquin’s haul came from the types of companies he regulates on the House Financial Services Committee. That includes Bank of America, American Express, Barclays, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs.

Advance America’s PAC gave $1,000 to the campaign. It’s the nation’s biggest payday lender, offering short-term advances that often require triple-digit interest rates. The company has seen class-action lawsuits over their practices in a handful of states, most recently reaching an $8 million settlement with Pennsylvania in March.

That total doesn’t even include the many individuals in the financial sector that gave generously to the campaign. One such person is Zoe Cruz, who was fired from her job as co-president of Morgan Stanley in 2007 after overseeing $3.7 billion in subprime mortgage-related losses. She has given money to Poliquin before.

  • Many prominent national Republicans and Democrats gave to the campaigns, proving the race is a big priority. 

The parties have each put Poliquin’s seat on lists of their top priorities in 2016, so it’s no surprise that the race is already seeing money from party leaders in Washington.

Poliquin got $28,000 in total from campaign and political action committees linked to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

A PAC linked to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., gave $5,000 to Cain, while the campaigns of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., each gave $2,000.

  • Winning is expensive …

Beating Cain in the 2014 election will cost Poliquin’s campaign $50,000 in win bonuses alone to husband-and-wife staffers Matthew and Megan Hutson — who lived with Poliquin during the campaign — and political adviser Brent Littlefield.

The filings show that Poliquin still owes $35,000 to the Hutsons, who are working for him in Washington, and another $17,000 to Littlefield, the point man on his campaign.

  • but it makes you new friends.

In 2014, one prominent Maine Republican was missing from Poliquin’s donor rolls: Olympia Snowe, the last Republican to hold the 2nd District seat before him.

That was after a bruising primary against Kevin Raye, a Snowe protege who Poliquin attacked in ads as “liberal.” But Snowe and her husband, former Gov. John McKernan, each gave $1,300 to Poliquin this time.

Maybe it’s a sign of detente.


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