LePage's secret bankers

By COLIN WOODARD  |  January 19, 2011

DEMMER CORPORATION ($44,000) is a Michigan-based assembler and refitter of military vehicles, including Humvees and armored trucks. The company appears to be a direct competitor of the state-run Maine Military Authority, which competes to refit and armorize the same classes of vehicles at the former Loring Air Force Base in Limestone. MMA executive director Hugh T. Corbett told the Phoenix his agency had no business dealings with Demmer, a company he admitted he'd never even heard of.

EADS NORTH AMERICA ($44,000), the US subsidiary of the European aerospace conglomerate that also makes Airbus jets, is locked in a bitter fight with Boeing over a $35 billion contract to build the next generation of in-air military refueling aircraft to replace our aging KC-135s. As recently as 2005, the company was considering basing its manufacturing line at Pease Air Force Base, a mile south of York County. Governor John Baldacci was one of eight governors who backed Boeing's competing bid as part of the "US Tanker 2010 Coalition." Ten KC-135s are based at Bangor airport. What this all means for Maine politics — if anything — is unclear.

AMERIQUAL GROUP ($94,000) of Ohio makes food rations for the military and is one of only three approved suppliers of Meals Ready to Eat, or MREs. GOODRICH CORPORATION ($19,000) makes sonar dome components used in the DDG-51 class destroyers built at Bath Iron Works.

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce

Chipped in $225,000

One of the great mysteries is why the 6800 member companies of the MICHIGAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE would drop six figures to influence a Maine election. We called their spokeswoman, Betty McNerney, to find out, but she didn't see fit to respond.

On its Web site, the Chamber boasts that it is one of only four state chambers accredited by the US Chamber of Commerce and that its "lobbyists champion member business interests, working against legislation that is anti-business and strongly supporting pro-business regulatory and legislative outcomes."

The Bottled Drinks Association

Chipped in $104,000

The AMERICAN BEVERAGE ASSOCIATION, the national industry association of the non-alcoholic beverage trade, donated big as well. It's undoubtedly upset by previous Democratic efforts to increase taxation on bottled drinks and soda syrup, and by a law passed last year that allowed state officials to ban the sale of such products from manufacturers who weren't complying with recycling-deposit reporting requirements. ABA doesn't have a lobbyist here, but the local Maine Beverage Association spent $16,000 opposing the latter law.

ABA member NESTLE WATERS NORTH AMERICA — owner of Poland Spring — has a whole team of lobbyists at Pierce Atwood keeping an eye on "potential legislation regarding international trade, Groundwater issues, Potential legislation regarding product stewardship, [and an] Anticipated report re[garding] water and international trade," according to the law firm's 2010 disclosure to the Maine Ethics Commission.

Everyone Else

Chipped in $361,000

A couple dozen more companies, big and small, also donated to the PAC, including the Arkansas nursing-care company GGNSC ADMINISTRATIVE PARTNERS ($5000), COMCAST ($50,000), and offshore oil-services firm ALLIANCE MARINE SERVICES of Galliano, Louisiana ($25,000).

Will these firms get what they want from the LePage administration and the Republican legislature? Time will tell. But if they don't, some of them may not be so generous the next time around.

Colin Woodard can be reached atcolin@colinwoodard.com.

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