Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Maine Democrats Don't Need More Crooks Like Lucas St. Clair And His Family Messing Up Politics


Jared Golden was endorsed by Maine's AFL-CIO today, not by rich friends of mommy

Today, Maine's AFL-CIO announced ttheir endorsement of Jared Golden in the Democratic primary. Speakers included Cynthia Phinney, Maine AFL-CIO President, a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Ron Green of the Professional Fire Fighters of Maine, Patrick Carleton, a Chesterville papermaker and member of the United Steelworkers, and Julie Eaton, a Stonington lobsterman and member of the Machinists union-- and, of course Jared Golden, a veteran and member of working class who isn't cowed by rich snobs who inherit their parents' money.

Golden's opponent, Wall Street puppet Bruce Poliquin, a rubber stamp for Trump and Ryan, is one of the GOP's most vulnerable incumbents but before Golden can take him on, he has to get through a primary that includes a multimillionaire who's the heir to the Burt's Bees fortune, Lucas St. Clair. St. Clair's most recent e-mail starts by saying "You deserve a member of Congress who listens to you, not corporate special interests and the wealthy elite, not mentioning that special interests and the wealthy elite is precisely who is financing his campaign. In fact, Maine Public Radio had pointed out that he's not even in Congress yet and he's already cheating and breaking campaign finance laws in the same way rich Republicans do. "A new, secretive group appears to be attempting to tilt the three-way Democratic contest in favor of one of the candidates-- Lucas St. Clair," Public Radio explained this week.
St. Clair's campaign has said it has nothing to do with the TV spots blanketing the airwaves. But there are signs that the group behind the ads has close ties to St. Clair and his mother, Burt’s Bees Inc. co-founder Roxanne Quimby.

Campaign ads that make a case for a candidate are paid for by the their campaigns, and if you want to see who's funding those campaigns, you can.

But that's not the case with a new group called the Maine Outdoor Alliance, a nonprofit organization that sprung up in late March. The group is now running ads about saving the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument from the Trump administration-- an issue that has been largely settled since December, when Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said the monument is likely safe from changes by the federal government.

Nonetheless, the ads provide a number to call Zinke, so viewers can tell him to leave the monument alone. The number goes to the general number for the Department of Interior-- a bureaucracy of over 70,000 employees.

But contacting Zinke probably is not the main purpose of the ads. They focus heavily on the congressional candidate who is often credited with making the national monument a reality.

Testimonials like that are pretty standard in candidate ads, and they would make perfect sense in a campaign spot for St. Clair, one of three Democrats in the primary for the 2nd Congressional District seat.

But the Maine Outdoor Alliance does not explicitly say in the ad that it supports St. Clair's candidacy. It is incorporated as a nonprofit and its ads are classified by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as issue based-- a pair of designations increasingly used by so-called ‘dark money groups’ that attempt to influence voters, but whose donors can remain secret.

Dan Corcoran, a forester who appears in one of the ads, said he cannot remember the names of the people from Maine Outdoor Alliance who contacted him.

"It was not my understanding that it was a campaign ad,” Corcoran said. “It was to identify and build support for the national monument.”

Corcoran also said that he is not entirely sure who Maine Outdoor Alliance is, which puts him in the same position as the rest of the public.

So far, the Maine Outdoor Alliance isn't responding to requests for comment.

But publicly available information offers some clues about who is running the organization. According to articles of incorporation papers filed with the Secretary of State, Nathan Deyesso is the incorporator for Maine Outdoor Alliance.

Deyesso runs a business in Scarborough and, according to a 2008 copy of Gould Academy's alumni magazine, he was St. Clair's best man at his wedding.

Deyesso did not respond to requests for comment.

Nor did Barrett Kaiser, a Montana-based political consultant linked to the agency that FCC documents show purchased the Maine Outdoor Alliance ads. Kaiser was hired by Burt’s Bees Inc. co-founder Roxanne Quimby to lead the monument campaign.

Quimby is St. Clair's mother. She did not respond to requests for comment.

"You know, I don't think there's any question that the people who are doing this are supporters of Lucas and the effort he put it in to creating the national monument," said David Farmer, a spokesperson for St. Clair’s campaign.

"We don't know who's doing this," he said.

Farmer said the campaign is not affiliated with the Maine Outdoor Alliance.

"We have not talked with them, we have not coordinated with them in any way. And we were unaware of the ads until we saw it like everyone else," Farmer said.

Farmer also said that these kinds of ads are the reality of the campaign finance laws that many Democratic candidates say are broken. Among them is St. Clair, who addressed the explosion of spending and dark money groups during a candidate forum held in January.

"You know I think that Citizens United and money in politics has been the ultimate corruption of our democracy in our lifetime," he said.

Farmer was asked if St. Clair planned to denounce the dark money ads running on his behalf.

"Yeah, we would prefer that it be a straight contest," Farmer said.

It does not look like Maine Outdoor Alliance will let that happen, though. The group just increased its television ad buy to over $300,000 for the first half of May.
Golden has taken this lying down. His campaign issued a statement: "There is a problem in this Democratic Primary. And that problem is easy to define: Secretive donors are spending unlimited amounts of money to influence this election.Last week, a mysterious Portland-based organization, the Maine Outdoor Alliance, spent more than $300,000 dollars to run television and digital ads. The source of their money is unknown, their donors are secret, but their intentions are clear. They want to buy this nomination for my opponent, Lucas St. Clair. As we enter the final month of this primary race, I expect to see more of this type of money enter this race. However, I’m holding our campaign to a higher standard-- I’m not taking any of it.

"The Maine Outdoor Alliance was clearly created to buy influence in this primary, and to do so without any accountability. But here’s the real problem. Lucas St. Clair’s campaign has said, and I quote: 'We don’t know who’s doing this.' That simple statement doesn’t pass the straight face test… As you’ve seen and heard reported by the Bangor Daily News and Maine Public Broadcasting, the Maine Outdoor Alliance is run by the best man from Lucas’s wedding. And the political consultant who helped procure these television ads has a long history of working with Lucas St. Clair and his family.

Goal Thermometer"I am calling on all Democrats in Maine, and across the country. Put your cards on the table, reveal all of your donors, and reject shady outside organizations like the Maine Outdoor Alliance who hide information on who’s trying to buy elections from voters. This is how Democrats bring about real change: by holding ourselves and our own campaign finance practices accountable to the higher standards that we are fighting for. Because here’s the bottom line-- and it’s an important lesson I learned in the Marines. As leaders, we must hold ourselves to a higher standard. Just because we can do something, doesn’t mean we should. Just because we can do something, doesn’t make it right."

If you'd like to help Jared combat St. Clair and his friends and family from stealing the nomination, please consider clicking on the Blue America congressional thermometer on the right and chipping in what you can. Poliquin will make mincemeat of someone like St. Clair. This is a seat the Democrats can take back... as long as they have the right Democrat running.

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home