Uncovering the political money trail

We’ve got legislators, candidates and party officials in Maine – lots of them, even the champions of Clean Elections – who can be found hobnobbing over hors d’oeuvres in search of dollars to fuel their ambitions and agendas. You may not have been invited to their fundraisers, but the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting and the Sunlight Foundation have obtained invitations to those parties, and we provide them here so that you can get an inside view of what the political money trail looks like.

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There are fundraisers with Tuscan themes, fundraisers with lobster themes, fundraisers with gun themes and fundraisers with vintage trucks that-look-like Gramps-drove-’em as their theme. There are “Summer receptions” and “Winter receptions” as well as receptions without a theme at all.

But all share one underlying, unspoken theme: Give us your money and we’ll listen to you.

This is one of the ways that politics really work in Maine. But unless you’re a deep-pocketed lobbyist or advocate who can shell out hundreds or thousands of dollars to attend these fundraising events, you wouldn’t know much about them. You wouldn’t know who gets invited to whose events, for example. Or what invitees pay for the privilege of sharing wine and cheese with lawmakers and aspiring lawmakers. Or what kind of flattery and seduction is used when pols want money.

In collaboration with the Sunlight Foundation, which originated this feature from the national perspective, the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting presents the Maine version of “Political Party Time.”

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We don’t actually go to any of the fundraisers that we write about. It would be unethical for us as non-partisan journalists to pay – er, contribute – money to political candidates, their parties or their PACs. Continue Reading →

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