Who bankrolled Portland’s mayoral candidates?

Following the money
By COLIN WOODARD  |  November 2, 2011

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Friday afternoon, Portland's 15 mayoral candidates disclosed how much money they'd raised and who gave it to them. Their campaign-finance filings make one thing clear: the advent of an elected mayor has opened the sluices, flooding the once sleepy world of City Hall politics with hundreds of thousands of dollars. Corporate lobbyists, real estate developers, plutocrats, and political power players — you name a special interest, they've probably invested in at least one mayoral candidate and, more likely than not, that candidate was Ethan Strimling.

Strimling, a former state senator and Democratic Congressional candidate, had raised $83,333 by October 25, an astounding figure in a city where councilors often run and win with war chests one-fortieth as large. More impressive is the range of donors Strimling has assembled: a bipartisan Who's Who of political insiders, top-tier lobbyists, real estate developers, and captains of industry, from sterling supporters of Governor Paul LePage to the rising Democratic stars of the Maine Senate.

A few donor clusters stick out. Last week, Portland residents received a Strimling campaign flyer lambasting city officials for failing to secure a deal that would have turned the city-owned Maine State Pier over to would-be office-and-hotel developers. The developers who came up with the project — Portsmouth-based Ocean Properties — have rallied to Strimling's candidacy in force. Bob Baldacci, the former governor's brother and past vice-president of OP, gave the maximum contribution allowed — $350 — as did his Baldacci Group, the managing director of his Baldacci Communications, and OP boss Tom Walsh. Baldacci Communications also serves as Strimling's primary fundraiser and political consultancy and has been paid nearly $18,000 for these services, more than the entire war chests of most of the other mayoral candidates. OP's rival, the Olympia Companies, also gave $350, as did company owner Kevin Mahaney and his Mahaney Master Holdings LLC.

The Cianchette clan — major LePage donors — have also gone all out for Strimling. Eric L. Cianchette gave $350 himself and another $350 via his ELC Inc. The family's Regency Hotel also kicked in $350, and their construction firm, Cianbro, and its executives came up with over $1000. Other Republican donors include Phineas Sprague Jr., his wife, and company ($1000), failed South Portland Senate candidate Louis Maietta and family members ($1050), and former party chair Robert AG Monks and his wife ($700).

Democratic kingpins at law-and-lobbying powerhouse Preti Flaherty back Strimling as well, including Severin Beliveau ($350), Harold Pachios ($350, plus $700 more via two Pachios-controlled LLCs in New York City), and three other attorneys ($500). Pierce Atwood corporate lobbyists John Delahanty and Andrea Marker each kicked in $350. Real estate interests were in force as well, including Michael Liberty, Fred Forsley, Joe Malone, Tim O'Neil, Alan Graves, the Soley clan, and Greg Boulos. Other big-name donors: Leon and Lisa Gorman (of L.L. Bean fame), former Press Herald owner Madeline Corson, former Maine Medical Center CEO Vince Conti, GOP pundit Phil Harriman, and Democratic senators Justin Alfond, Cynthia Dill, and Bill Diamond. Incumbent mayor Nick Mavodones came in second in the money race with $45,749. The longtime general manager of Casco Bay Lines, Mavodones's donor pool is heavy on waterfront interests, with $350 donations from trawler owner Jim Odlin, the longshoreman's union, DiMillo's Restaurant, Steve DiMillo, OP's Tom Walsh, Cyrus Hagge and his Project Management Inc., Gowen Marine, Portland Express Water Taxi, Charlie Poole's Union Wharf, and four waterfront property holding companies. Rosa Scarcelli and her (controversial) Stanford Management gave $350 each, as did MaineHealth CEO Bill Caron and three of his executives, Karen Geraghty, and former mayor Jim Cloutier and his wife.

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