Super PAC Spending in Maine’s Senate Race
Despite running against spending from non-local groups, Maine’s Senator-Elect Angus King’s campaign benefitted from money spent on his behalf by Super PAC’s.
King’s campaign was opposed to recent campaign finance reform measures that created Super PAC’s. Super PAC’s do not have to disclose their donors and can contribute unlimited amounts of money. However, they cannot give money directly to a candidate.
“Angus is opposed to the involvement of Super PACs in local elections because they have the capacity to wield unprecedented financial influence in campaigns while also shielding certain donor categories from disclosure,” said campaign policy analyst Eliza Bryant.
During the campaign, King attempted to get Republican candidate Charlie Summers and Democratic candidate Cynthia Dill to sign a pledge stating they wouldn’t take money from Super PAC’s.
“It’s kind of ironic that Angus King has run around the state of Maine descrying outside money and how bad it is, yet he’s down in Michael Bloomberg’s living room two days ago raising a half a million dollars,” said Summers during the campaign.
However, Super PAC’s are prohibited from donating directly to political candidates. They can only donate to campaign committees, which are not allowed to coordinate with a candidate’s campaign. Therefore, King has no control over what money Super PAC’s spend advertising for his campaign.
According to Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings, Super PAC Citizens Elect spent over a million dollars ($1,234,520) on television advertising, polling and media consulting for Angus King. It spent an additional $193,000 on advertising against Charlie Summers. By contrast, the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action, the leading Super PAC contributor supporting Summers, spent only $117,000.
“The majority of the outside money in this election has been spent in attack ads against Angus King. In total, outside influences have spent over $3 million on these ads, comprising 75% of the money that has been spent on ads in this race,” said Bryant.
In total, about $3 million was spent by Super PAC’s on ads against King. About $1.7 million was spent by Super PAC’s on ads against Summers. Of the $6.4 million spent on the race, only about 46% of the money spent by Super PAC’s was used for negative ads against King.