Though spring weather continues to be a tease, the green shoots of money are springing up for Shenna Bellows. The Democratic challenger to Sen. Susan Collins and former executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine just made the cut to receive support from EMILY’s List, a political fundraising powerhouse that supports pro-choice female Democratic candidates.
Just a few weeks ago, I wrote a post about EMILY’s List supporting Emily Cain, a Democrat running in the primary to replace out-going Rep. Mike Michaud in the Second Congressional District, but not Bellows.
That changed Wednesday morning, when the group that raised more than $2.5 million in March and a total of nearly $25 million so far this election cycle, according to The Associated Press, sent out a press release touting Bellows’ candidacy.
“During her tenure, the Maine ACLU was a nationwide leader in bipartisan work to strengthen privacy and civil rights laws,” said the EMILY’s List statement. “Bellows has been an integral part of the fight for marriage equality in Maine, and is a strong advocate of reproductive rights.”
Team Bellows is rightly amped, touting the endorsement soon after its announcement.
“Emily’s List has produced amazing results, helping to elect Democratic women at every level of government, and we look forward to partnering with them in 2014,” Bellows said in a release. “The Republican attacks on women and reproductive freedom demonstrate how vitally important it is that we have strong leadership for women in Washington. I will always be a fighter for civil rights and reproductive freedom.”
While the listing may not make a bit of difference for Bellows in the polls, it shows she’s met a certain credibility threshold with the political class in D.C. And the money can make all the difference if Bellows finds some issues that resonant enough with voters to gain traction against the formidable and well-liked Collins.
As The Washington Post notes, EMILY’s List backed candidates, such as Alison Lundergan Grimes who is taking on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, and Michelle Nunn, a Georgia Democrat hoping to replace retiring Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss, have been able to hold their own fundraising, in part thanks to the boost from the group.
“EMILY’s List’s success lies in aligning itself with capable fundraisers. But the organization has made a mark, too,” reports the Post. “Bundled donations and PAC checks from the group to its endorsed candidates total $5.5 million so far this election cycle.”
The new SMS Pan Atlantic 43rd Omnibus poll will show Governor Paul LePage in the lead for the first time since Congressman Michael Michaud and Eliot Cutler entered the race. Michaud will be in second and Cutler in third.
The official numbers, along with the full poll, will not be released until 10 am. Look for stories later or go to Pan Atlantic SMS Group.
FALMOUTH — Steve Woods, Democratic candidate for state Senate District 25, said he is “very ready and very enthusiastic” to discuss key economic issues at an upcoming Meet the Candidates Forum sponsored by the Cumberland- Falmouth Chamber of Commerce.
The event is 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 6 at Cumberland Town Hall. Woods was one of the first to commit to appearing at the event, and praised the Chamber’s effort.
“Economic issues are of such importance right now, and well into the future,” Woods said. “It’s important that Democrats voting in the Senate District 25 primary on June 10 be able to fully examine each candidate’s credentials for working together to create economic prosperity.”
Woods is chairman of the Yarmouth Town Council and president and CEO of TideSmart Global, a conglomerate of international marketing companies based in Falmouth. His experience as an entrepreneur includes managing multimillion-dollar budgets and implementing complex health care and other benefits for dozens of employees.
“He is the only candidate in his contest with legislative, campaign and business experience, and the only one who’s created jobs and strengthened the local economy by creating dozens of jobs and millions in taxable value,” campaign spokesman Bob Mentzinger said.
Mike Edes, a Cumberland town councilor, representative to the Chamber board and a leading candidate for Cumberland County sheriff, will welcome candidates. Greater Portland Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Chris Hall will serve as moderator.
“The forum is intended to offer the viewpoints of each candidate so residents can become more educated prior to making a choice,” said Cumberland Town Manager William Shane, event organizer.
AT A GLANCE
What: Cumberland-Falmouth Chamber of Commerce Meet the Candidates Forum
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 6
Where: Cumberland Town Hall, Cumberland Center, ME
Shenna Bellows, the Maine Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee for US Senate, joined a call sponsored by Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC). Bellows joined Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ-3) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN-5), and other candidates dubbed as members of the “Elizabeth Warren wing” of the Democratic Party. Warren is the Democratic senator from Massachusetts and populist champion of the working people.
To learn more about Shenna Bellows, visit her campaign website here
Those in a hurry can skip to time the 6:36 Mark to hear what Shenna Bellows had to say:
Members of the media were on the call. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI-1) was his party’s vice presidential nominee in 2012, and has authored a number of prospective budgets known for their draconian cuts to social programs, attempts to privatize Medicare and Social Security, and tax breaks for the wealthy.
Gov. Paul LePage is known to send handwritten notes to his allies and his opponents. The missives sometimes surface in the mailboxes of state lawmakers.
Some of the notes are friendly. Some are not.
Oamshri Amarasingham, the public policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, recently received one of the latter notes. The governor was not happy that Amarasingham had criticized the governor's proposal to have a governmental agency fact-check campaign statements.
The proposal, L.D. 1834, was quickly dispatched by the Legislature amid concerns that the proposal would violate the First Amendment protection of free speech. Additionally, there was some uneasiness among lawmakers about making the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Elect Practices the arbiter of truth.
Amarasingham spearheaded that argument, saying during a public hearing held in March that the state ethics commission did not need to add ‘truth police’ to its list of responsibilities.
LePage was displeased with the opposition.
"Since when in the USA (is it) that the truth is unconstitutional," he wrote. "Interesting, that lying to citizens is the position of of the ACLU. It is a real shame that you and your organization do not promote the truth. What example are we providing our children with?"
The governor began his letter saying that his proposal was based on another state law that has withstood the constitutional test. It's not clear which law he's referring to, but Ohio has a law that allows a state board to reprimand candidates for making false campaign speech statements. The governor is correct that the law has withstood early court challenges, however, the fight is not yet over, according to Ohio chapter of the ACLU.
Another little detail from the governor's note: It was written on stationary from LePage's re-election committee, not state letterhead. One might wonder if the ACLU could have asked the Ethics Commission to rule on the veracity of his claim that "lying to citizens" is a position backed by the organization if the governor's bill had become law. Probably not. The governor's proposal would only have allowed candidates to file truth complaints with the Ethics Commission.
The 53rd Pan Atlantic SMS Omnibus Poll will be released soon. Patrick Murphy, the firm’s president, allowed me an early glance at the results. Although I agreed not to release specific numbers prior to the poll’s formal release, there is a lot that is interesting about the results.
The poll was part of Pan Atlantic’s regular surveying and wasn’t paid for by any candidate or political organization.
In terms of the governor’s race, let me simply say there is no doubt that the numbers will make news.
In terms of the rest of the poll, there will certainly be things for both Democrats and Republicans to celebrate. For instance, Gov. Paul LePage’s job approval numbers are still upside down, but so are President Barack Obama’s.
Republicans will clearly rejoice when they see Sen. Susan Collins appears to be more popular that the Red Sox. But Democrats will also be pleased that U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud is seen overwhelmingly as the best option to beat LePage (as opposed to Eliot Cutler).
LePage has clearly won the debate on welfare fraud, with a majority agreeing with his unsubstantiated claim that welfare fraud runs rampant. But, on the flip side, virtually no one considers this an important enough issue to bring it up when asked about the most important issues facing Maine.
And it confirms that Democrats strongly support expanding health care to 70,000 Maine people, Republicans strongly support the Governors’s veto of same, and independents are basically divided (but leaning toward expansion). In essence, each side has solidified its meat for the base this fall.
However, the one question that struck me as the most interesting and perhaps telling was this:
1) Which of the following statements comes closest to reflecting your values:
Statement A: ‘I want my elected official to stand firm and not allow compromise on core values,’ OR
Statement B: ‘I want my elected official to work with the other side, even if that means allowing compromise on core values.’
When you see the final numbers on this question, you will see an overwhelming number of Maine people want compromise. No surprise there. Maine is and always has been a state where practicality trumps ideology. We want to get stuff done.
But when you look at the crosstabs for this question (meaning when you break it out by party identification), what you are going to see is something remarkable. Democrats and independents consistently are saying “yes” to compromise, whereas Republicans are actually more heavily in favor blocking compromise in order to impose their ideology.
A reflection that the Tea Party has influenced even traditional Maine Yankee Republicans beyond repair? Let’s hope not, but I am afraid.
Look for the full poll to be released this Wednesday.
Posted by Ethan Strimling
Obamacare critics have made all sort of fiscal claims about the costs associated with the Affordable Care Act.
But usually the claims come down to one basic one, that the law is purportedly costing more than expected.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, Obamacare costs are significantly less than first projected.
The CBO’s new estimate is that the costs over a ten year period will be $104 billion dollars less than first projected.
One reason is that premiums, which are subsidized under the ACA, have been and are expected to continue to be less than projected. Remember that the next time you hear some politician assert that premiums are soaring.
As the above chart from the report shows, the initial estimate (on the dotted line) was higher than the May 2013 revision, but even that was higher than this latest estimate.
You can read the whole report yourself. Just follow this link.
There is not much I enjoy more than catching right-wing think tanks with their pants down. And I especially love it when we catch them as they are screaming “Democratic hypocrisy!”
A recent column in the Portland Press Herald by the Maine Heritage Policy Center policy analyst Steve Robinson tried to debunk Democratic efforts to pay women equally (why conservatives are fighting so hard to oppose equal pay for women is beyond me, but that’s a topic for a different column).
Robinson claimed U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud paid women on his staff 83 cents on the dollar compared with men. Knowing that right-wing think tanks cherrypick and manipulate data better than most (yes, they are better than others at some things), I decided to investigate for myself.
Turns out, the claim was based on three months of data that didn’t take into account hire dates or full-time or part-time status. When looked at in this more accurate light, the think tank’s data was actually upside down.
In 2013, the average full-time annualized salary for female staffers in Michaud’s congressional office was $55,432. The average salary for male staffers? $49,156.
One thing you learn in this business is, when conservative think tanks lie once, you can assume they are repeating the lie. In case you want to check for yourself, here’s the link.
The big question now becomes, will these groups join the fight to end gender-based income discrimination once they learn men are actually the ones being paid less? Because, just like with abortion, the minimum wage, and welfare benefit cuts, they sure don’t seem to care when it is women who are the ones being hurt.
Posted by Ethan Strimling
CUMBERLAND — Steve Woods, Democratic candidate for state Senate District 25, led Democrats in welcoming gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud at private reception Sunday in Cumberland.
“Mike was my guest at TideSmart in Falmouth in August 2013, and I was even more impressed with him this time,” Woods, a co-host of the event, said. “He really has a clear idea of strategy, and what the stakes are. I’m very convinced he has what it takes to win.”
Woods is slated to make at least 20 public appearances in all seven district towns in the runup to the June 10 Democratic primary, with a debate event soon to be announced. He is seeking to fill the seat of state Sen. Richard Woodbury, a Yarmouth independent who declined a re-election bid earlier this year. The Woods campaign posts all its up-to-date event information at the campaign Facebook page.
We have no control of where and to whom we are born; it is an accident of nature. Some are born into better situations than others. Some fall into the trappings of assumed preferential entitlement because of their wealth and others drop into the abyss of self-pity entitlement because of their poverty. How does one climb down from a perch of inherited wealth to understand the accident of birth and their good fortune? How does one climb up from the depths of inherited poverty to understand the accident of birth is not always fair, to persevere?
What happens if the motivation is not at home and a child is not raised to understand responsibility or understand their good fortune? A child has no control over the family setting they are born into. In turn they may need help or course correction when they become adults; at that point it becomes increasingly difficult as one gets older.
No one wants to be poor; we all rationalize actions to satisfy physical cravings of food, drink, shelter and sex; emotional yearnings of recognition, validation. Our actions vary based on intellectual and emotional abilities, principles and character. Whether our actions are considered morally or ethically acceptable is based on individual and societal, experience and perception.
When someone makes improper use of a safety net many of those viewing this behavior feel they’ve had their noses rubbed in it. They’ve experienced first-hand the touch, smell, and appearance of the cracks in the welfare system. It is disgusting, it is vile, and no doubt unbearable at times not letting such experiences build into deep seeded anger and outrage.
Yet why isn’t the same outrage and anger occur when someone reads about the 80 largest corporations in America receiving “Corporate Welfare” in the form of a total taxpayer bailout of more than $2.5 trillion. Where is the disgust of those companies having avoided at least $34.5 billion in taxes by setting up more than 600 subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, and other offshore tax havens since 2008?
Where is the anger when a dozen of these companies paid no corporate income taxes in at least one year since 2008, while receiving more than $6.4 billion in tax refunds from the IRS? Haven’t the individuals and smaller corporations paying taxes had their noses rubbed in it?
Is it disgusting, is it vile? It depends. Ironic those individuals’ “working” the cracks in the welfare system are considered lazy, cheats, crooks; while corporations “working” the cracks in our tax system, cracks which they created through lobbying efforts, are often considered shrewd, hard-working, and savvy.
Who has the more significant economic impact on the greater good, the individual or the corporate welfare abuser? Unless someone can show me data that demonstrates individual welfare abuse exceeds the abuse documented above, corporate welfare abusers have had the greatest negative economic impact on society.
Society has been manipulated to focus on the individual welfare abuser through our emotions fueled by our senses. Isn’t it ironic that jails are filled with so many petty criminals, while the real bad-guys, the real welfare abusers are the corporations running the government?
The reports filed yesterday by both sides of the upcoming bear-baiting ballot question couldn’t be more different.
The referendum will ask whether voters favor outlawing the hunting of bears over bait, with hounds or with traps. All three methods are currently used in Maine, with the vast majority of bears taken by hunters each year being shot over bait. Mainers rejected identical ballot measures in 2004, 53 percent to 47 percent.
Proponents of the proposed ban on hunting bears over bait, with traps or with hounds, raised just $3,600 in cash contributions during the first three months of the year, while opponents of the prohibition raised more than $472,000.
Still, the group supporting the band — Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting — are carrying a cash balance of more than $477,000. Meanwhile, opponents, dubbed Maine Wildlife Conservation Council, have more than $411,000 cash on-hand.
The other major difference: The bulk of MFBH’s cash has come from one source: The Humane Society of the United States, based in New York.
The group has raised some money from other sources, most of them unidentified contributions of $100 or less. But the Humane Society gave the group $700,000 cash in the last quarter of 2013.
Plus, the Humane Society has borne almost $150,000 of direct costs associated with Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting, contributing more than $50,000 worth of staff time, consultation and other goods and services between January 1 and March 31 of this year, and more than $98,000 in the last quarter of 2013.
When you factor in all cash and in-kind contributions, the Humane Society of the United States has funded a whopping 93 percent of the entire Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting campaign.
In comparison, MWCC claims that about half its cash this reporting period came from sources in Maine, with 74 percent total coming from the New England states. Many of those contributions were small pledges from individual supporters and businesses.
That doesn’t mean, however, that there weren’t some big-money backers for the friends of bear-baiting: The group raised $285,000 of its quarterly contributions from 11 sportsmen groups and businesses that gave more than $5,00 each. The largest contributors were Friends of Maine Sportsmen, which gave $103,000; Maine Trappers Association, which gave more than $52,000; North Maine Woods, a group of individual and corporate landowners, gave $25,000; and the Washington, D.C.-based Ballot Issues Coaltion gave $20,000.
Granted, the source of the money has little to do with the arguments for or against baiting, hounding and trapping. But opponents of the proposed ban are indicating that they’ll make use the out-of-state cash as a cudgel in the upcoming season.
A press release from the Maine Wildlife Conservation Council on Friday made no mention of the hunting practices (it didn’t even include the words “bait,” “hounds” or “traps”), but took aim squarely at the Humane Society.
“We understand that the group pushing this ballot measure, the Humane Society of the United States, can at any moment [provide] tremendous resources to the campaign,” said James Cote, the group’s campaign manager. “However, today’s report signifies the groundswell of local opposition that we are experiencing.”
A call to Katie Hansberry, the campaign manager for Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting, went unanswered on Friday evening.
In her voicemail message, Hansberry identified herself as an employee of the Humane Society of the United States.OK, but what exactly is the issue at the ballot?
Bear baiting is the use of food by hunters to lure bears to a chosen location where they can be easily shot from close range. Hounding involves the use of trained dogs to assist in a bear hunt. Proponents of the ban say the practice is unfair to the bears, dangerous for the dogs, and cruel to both.
But, according to a fact sheet provided by the state Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, baiting, hounding and trapping are essential methods of bear population management. Roughly 80 percent of bears killed in Maine are lured with bait, the state says, while another 11 percent are killed by hounding and 3 percent with traps.
Even with these techniques, the success rate of bear harvesting through baiting and hounding is just 30 percent, according to Inland Fisheries and Wildlife statistics, and just 19 percent for trapping. Only deer hunters have lower success rates.
Phil: How about we debate equal pay this week?
Ethan: What is there to debate? Women should be paid the same as men for equal work. Pretty simple and pretty hard to disagree with.
Phil: Correct, yet you would think that President Barack Obama would at least walk the walk before going on tour with the message. A recent study shows that his own office pays women 91 cents for every $1 a man makes.
Ethan: Nothing I like better than a bunch of Republicans, who have complained that equal pay is not an issue, finally seeing the light and pointing out the problem of equal pay when a Democrat is the CEO.
Phil: Actually it’s about digging a little deeper before using the power of the presidential seal to embark on the fall election campaigns.
Ethan: Except the White House does have equal pay for equal work. People in similar jobs are paid the same. In corporate America, the difference is 7-9 percent in favor of men, so Obama has bucked the trend and proven we can create equal compensation.
Phil: And yet, overall, women in his White House make 9 percent less than men because more women hold entry level positions. You may also want to check with Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin’s office, as I think you’ll find the same holds true there. And, I suspect, many others.
Ethan: Yes, that is correct. And although women are paid equally for the same work, the fact that more are in entry level positions does show the need for more consciousness around training and promotion. But more importantly, it shows that even in a place where they are trying to do the right thing, there is much more to do. Imagine how bad it must be for those who work in businesses with a CEO who isn’t even trying to do the right thing.
Phil: Are you saying there are many CEOs consciously paying women less?
Ethan: I don’t know if there are many who consciously pay women less. I certainly hope not. But I believe there are many CEOs who don’t think about the issue at all. And because of that, there are great discrepancies.
Phil: Maybe those businesses that don’t think about it at all are simply hiring based on market value and productivity. Maybe they are not looking at someone’s gender and are deciding to pay people what they are worth.
Ethan: Are you saying women, as a group, are worth less than men?
Phil: You know me better than that. In fact, I know many companies with women in the highest ranks, making more than many men I know. The issue is that we need a society where we judge people on who they are without looking at gender, race or ethnicity.
Ethan: I don’t disagree, but unfortunately that isn’t happening. That’s why we need greater protections in the law. Greater protections like the ones Obama signed this week. Protections for workers on federal contracts to discuss their pay with colleagues without fear of retaliation. And a law requiring those same employers to report to the Department of Labor on what they pay women and men.
Phil: Discrimination is already illegal under the Constitution. If employers are paying people less because of their gender, they will, and should, be sued and fined. This is a matter for the courts. It is not a matter for more government intrusion into the private sector.
Ethan: Yes, it is a matter for the courts. The problem is that the Equal Pay Act passed in 1963 is no longer strong enough to protect workers. That is why we need to update the law with the Paycheck Fairness Act. But, as usual these days, Congress refuses to act.
Phil: Before you add more laws and regulations, maybe we should make sure other factors aren’t at play. For instance, it’s women’s right to step in and out of the workforce to be a mother. And could it be that their choice of college degrees are more focused on sociology and psychology, compared with engineering and finance, where the compensation is higher?
Ethan: I doubt it.
Phil: And what about how risky the jobs are, which have to pay more to attract workers?
Ethan: Phil, you started this column by saying there was a problem, at least in the president’s office. Are you saying this is the only place in America where this issue legitimately exists? Wouldn’t it be more prudent to find a different path toward erasing income equality, than trying to pretend it doesn’t exist?
Phil: My path is through the private sector being allowed to make decisions based on the market. Enforce discrimination laws as forcefully as possible. I believe pay levels may be more even than people realize; let’s assure everyone that all of the facts are before us, lest our agenda-driven politicians create another economic slowdown.
Ethan: I love that you are a dreamer. A laissez-faire dreamer, but a dreamer nonetheless.
On Thursday, Gov. Paul LePage announced he’d signed a once-controversial, now unanimously supported law aimed at fighting human trafficking in Maine and helping victims leave “the life” for good.
An hour later — as if it were planned (and to be clear: I’m not saying it was) — police announced busted two alleged human trafficking rings being run out of Central Maine.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Amy Volk, R-Scarborough, provides victims of human trafficking with an affirmative defense in the face of prostitution charges, freeing victims from being labeled with a criminal record. It also allows victims access to aid through the state’s Victim’s Compensation fund, and increases penalties and fines for traffickers.
The bill was subjected to partisan posturing when Volk first introduced it earlier this year. The Democrat-controlled Legislative Council at first opposed its introduction to the agenda this session but, facing stiff opposition and a public relations backlash, eventually supported the bill. It sailed through the Legislature thereafter, receiving unanimous support in both the House and Senate.
Volk worked with the national Polaris Project, a group that fights human trafficking and supports victims, in crafting the Legislation.
“This is a great day for the victims of sex trafficking,” said Volk in a press release. “It was such a happy moment to see Gov. LePage sign this bill into law after months of work where, at times, I doubted whether this day would come. Sex trafficking victims are more protected now and traffickers and their clients face stiffer penalties for the roles they play in taking advantage of other human beings.”
An hour after LePage announced he had signed Volk’s bill into law, State Police announced they’d busted two alleged human trafficking rings — both operating under the guise of escort services, in Sidney and Litchfield.
Whether you're a connoisseur or critic of televised political ads, it's about to get a lot easier to find out who's buying them and how much they paid.
Beginning July 1, television stations will have to post political ad buy information at a designated Federal Communications Commission website, according to an April 4 public notice sent from the FCC to television broadcasters. The FCC reminder follows action taken in 2012 that made it so network affiliates (NBC, ABC, FOX, CBS) in the country's top 50 media markets had to post their so-called "public file" on the FCC site to enable the public to view specific ad buys, run times and purchasers. The information provides an easier path for transparency. While the information was public before, stations were not required to send the information upon request. Viewing the documents required a trip to the station and request for the information.
The 2012 mandate excluded broadcasters outside of the top 50, meaning Maine televisions stations did things the old fashioned way during the presidential and congressional races. That changes on July 1, when all broadcasters, including those not affiliated with the major networks, have to begin sending their public file to the FCC.
Ready inspection of the public file is good news for journalists, too. In 2012, for example, a strange ad surfaced during the U.S. Senate race that talked up Democratic candidate Cynthia Dill's progressive credentials. That spot seemed to have been drafted through the Republican lens -- she's aligned with Obama! Pro-labor! Tough on guns! -- but it that would have been difficult to prove had it not been for the public file, which listed Michael Adams as the treasurer of Maine Freedom, the group that purchased the ad.
Adams was also the general counsel for the Republican Governors Association (Adams is also listed as the treasurer for the RGA Maine political action committee for this year's race). Why was a Republican organization, Maine Freedom, running an ad supporting Dill? Because the only way Republican candidate Charlie Summers was going to beat independent fronting Angus King that year was if Dill put in a strong performance and split the progressive vote. The goal of the ad -- Dill is the real progressive in the race -- was to do just that.
Journalists may never have pieced that together without access to the public file.