Recent Stories

Sanford senator used PAC money to pay himself and family $17,000

A veteran state legislator has used a campaign fund designed to help other Democratic candidates run for office to buy tires, pay for car repairs, reimburse himself for travel and pay his wife and daughter for computer services and keeping his books. Continue Reading →

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How to survive Maine’s 2014 elections

It’s not easy being a voter these days. You’re inundated with flyers, emails and TV and radio advertisements about where candidates stand or don’t stand or will never, ever stand on issues whose complexities are belied by the emphatic and categorical statements issued almost hourly by campaigns. Who can you believe? What’s real and what’s not? Our role at the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting is to help citizens understand what is really going on in state government and elections. Continue Reading →

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Newfound wealth allows Rep. Pingree to pay her ‘dues’ to House Democrats

From 1994 to mid-2011, Chellie Pingree’s total contributions to candidates running for national office were $2,950.

But from June 2011 to last November — a period of only 17 months — the Democratic congresswoman from Maine’s first district donated $105,600 to Democratic candidates to Congress and to the party committees that funnel donations to candidates.
Continue Reading →

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Finally, a study that looks at whether campaign cash actually influences policy

Clayton Peoples, a lab fellow at Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, specializes in campaign finance and corruption, a subject that most investigative reporters love. He’s done important work looking at actual data linking campaign contributors’  influence over legislation — the kind of influence that many people intuitively believe exists, but an influence that has also suffered from a lack of empirical, fact-based documentation. Take a look at Peoples’ latest blog post, “What Can $6 Billion Buy?” where he concludes: “It is not especially surprising that an analysis of all the bills over an extended period reveals consistent contributor influence. As a lawmaker interviewed by Schram in his 1995 book Speaking Freely put it, “(People) will often look for…the grand-slam example of influence of these interests. Continue Reading →

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Analysis – Ignore the pundits and polls; go vote

Uncle Sam

As we finally approach Election Day, many people are so tired of the campaigns that they ask plaintively, “Are we there yet?”

Throughout a long campaign, we have been treated to daily analyses about who’s ahead to the point where it becomes an almost meaningless blur. We get three kinds of comments: pundits, polls and predictions. Pundits are people who we are supposed to believe possess some kind of special insight about politics. On any given day, they seem sure of their outlooks about the campaigns. One of their favorite words is “momentum,” though they seem to have different meanings in mind. Continue Reading →

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King’s laptops leveled playing field, but academic benefits hard to assess

At Freeport Middle School, students in algebra class play “Battleship” on their laptops as they learn to plot coordinates on a graph. At Massabesic Middle School, eighth-graders surf the web on their laptops to create their own National History Day websites. And at King Middle School, students carry their laptops into the field as they chronicle the civil rights movement through eyewitness interviews. These students don’t live in a high-tech mecca like Silicon Valley, but in the nation’s most rural state, where state tax money pays for one white Apple MacBook for every seventh- and eighth-grader in public schools. Laptops from mcpir3
More than 10 years ago, Angus King, then Maine’s governor and now a U.S. Senate candidate, pushed the $10- to $11-million-a-year program through a reluctant legislature.  King sold it as a way to give the state a competitive edge and provide computers to low-income students. Continue Reading →

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Bloomberg’s Maine Man

King NY

When New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg announced last week that he’d be founding a Super PAC and spending some of his money in Maine in support of Angus King, the Independent candidate for U.S. Senate was as startled as anyone. “I can tell you without any equivocation that I had no idea he was going to do this Super PAC thing,” King said. “Mayor Bloomberg’s made this decision without any request from me.”

King has met Bloomberg just three times: once at a centrist summit in Oklahoma in 2008, once last week for a fundraiser at the Mayor’s private residence, and once during a 45-minute meeting on a visit this summer to New York City. “We talked about schools, we talked about centrist politics…. It wasn’t in great depth, but it was substantive,” King said in an interview Friday. Continue Reading →

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Dill, Summers, King: Tough questions, candid interviews

The most important issues for voters in this election are jobs and the economy. As part of our series about the U.S. Senate race in Maine, “Setting the Record Straight,” the Center’s reporters have conducted in-depth interviews with the top three candidates about their records of job creation and economic development. Reporters Matt Drange, John Christie and Naomi Schalit pose the hard questions and track down the important details with candidates Cynthia Dill, Charlie Summers and Angus King. We videotaped those interviews, and you can see them below. Continue Reading →

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King cites his $900m tax break program as a job creator

The number one issue on voters’ minds this year is jobs. Angus King, the leading candidate in the U. S. Senate race, claims as governor he helped create jobs in Maine with some of his policies, including a program called BETR. BETR stands for Business Equipment Tax Reimbursement. Until King became governor, businesses had to pay property taxes on equipment they purchased, from paper-making machines to computers. In 1995, then-Gov. King persuaded the legislature that if the state gave the taxes back to the businesses, businesses would expand and create jobs for Mainers. Continue Reading →

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