Following the money: Do large donors have certain ... expectations?
by Gina Hamilton
A couple of weeks ago, I was forwarded an e-mail from Ed Bosarge, a Houston, Texas, CEO who co-founded a financial software firm called Quantlab, and who maintains a summer home on Southport Island, off Boothbay Harbor. The Bosarges do good works in their little corner of midcoast Maine, supporting among other causes the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, the Boothbay Opera House, and lighthouse restoration.
In September, Bosarge and his wife, Marie, donated $200,000 to the Maine Republican Party. As far as we can tell, it was the largest single donation of the 2010 campaign season to the Republican Party in Maine, exceeding even the donation from the national party. This was duly noted and disclosed, and there is nothing illegal about it.
By September, Paul LePage was the party's nominee, and we can find no evidence that the Bosarges also donated directly to LePage for Governor (their donation would have been capped at $750 in any case). But they were active in the campaign, judging from an e-mail that Bosarge sent to a few dozen supporters in the Boothbay Peninsula area. To wit (and sic):
Our Inauguration team from the Mid Coast of Maine, working with the Transition Team for Governor LePage, is committed to bring about positive Change to Maine by supporting a Pro-business agenda. Jan 5, Maine will formally become a 100% Republican State, after 40 years of Democrat Rule, Massive backbreaking entitlements, and Destruction of the Maine Economy, with over 50% of the state living on state welfare.
Chris Griffith, Portland, is working hard to get us all ready for this event, and our Family funding of the Republican Party and the Governor’s Transition team is supporting bringing about real change, republican style.
We will celebrate the movement toward Change in Maine with the address of Governor LePage on January 5, 2011, and during the summer with a celebratory Cannon Salute from South Song and the Former Estate of Marylouise Cowan, in Southport, in July, 2011. Bill Schneider, the attorney General of the State of Maine, and a fellow cannon enthusiast, has been invited to bring his personal cannons, and we will bring all of ours, for a 21 gun salute to the New Governor and the new administration of the State of Maine. There are many new British, and Danish, and Nepalese Cannons that were recently added to our collection in Southport, Maine.
All are welcome to these festivities, which will include a fly-by of many Warbirds from the 2nd world war, including B-25s and P-51s, P-41 Warhawks, and Japanese Zeros. The date is TBD but is early to mid July.
This is our focus team for the Boothbay Peninsula,to change the laws that are destroying Maine in the Mid Coast Maine DEP, fire the entire group and change the coastland development laws
Pass pro business laws to attract business and jobs to Mid Coast Maine
Change the entitlement programs in every area we can
Tax Holidays for Companies Moving to Maine
Eliminate the 8.5% income tax in Maine
Eliminate the death tax in Maine, which causes anyone over 65 to move to another state like New Hampshire, or Conn
Eliminate the much abused Free Health care system, which is bankrupting the state.
Reduce the bureaucracy in every area of Government
Dismantle and Decimate the Maine DEP, which has caused almost no one to want to build or expand a home, or build a new plant in Maine for 20 years—the appointed position of head of this will be fired quickly, and democratic Hack.
Change Maine from the Highest taxation state in the Union to among the 10 lowest
Change Maine from the highest percentage of college graduates and high school graduates leaving the state to one where there are jobs for these graduates in the state of Maine.
Happy New Year.
We should note that, although this e-mail was presented to us by a recipient who believes it to be genuine, we have been unable to confirm with Bosarge that he is indeed the author. However, we e-mailed the address of the person who sent the e-mail, asking if it is the correct e-mail for Ed Bosarge, and we have received an affirmative response. The bolding above is mine. Leaving aside the rather disconcerting idea that there are people running around with personal cannons in the midcoast, what Bosarge is presenting here is his own personal vision for the state of Maine, of which he is only a part-time resident, a vision that may or may not have coincided with candidate LePage's ideas.
They coincide now.
When we interviewed candidate LePage before the primary, he did not seem extreme on the issue of whether or not regulation of Maine's environment, including protecting its shoreline, was necessary; he only felt that regulation had to be more sensible and streamlined. Whether candidate LePage agreed initially or not, many of the ideas on this "vision statement" are in fact part of Governor LePage's proposed budget for FY 2012 and 2013.
Bosarge is not alone in giving vast sums of money to political parties, which, while they do not shield the donor outright from scrutiny, they do provide at least plausible deniability about whether or not there is a direct quid pro quo involved. Some of the funds Bosarge donated went to help elect other candidates, including some more moderate local midcoast candidates who don't necessarily agree that the time is ripe to do away with the DEP and scuttle shoreline zoning regulations, or that expanding MaineCare has been a bad choice for the state.
But Bosarge and other individual donors pale in comparison to the big ticket spenders – lobbyists, corporations, and organizations – that donated huge sums to the Republican Governors Association (RGA) Political Action Committee (PAC) for Maine. More than $1.8 million was funneled into this fund, all of which was earmarked for the election of just one man: Paul LePage.
Of these donors, virtually all of them originated out of state. Big pharmaceutical companies led the way in terms of donations, including:
- Astrazenica, which donated $344,000
- Pharmaceutical Research, a lobbying firm in Washington D.C., which donated $140,000
- Glaxo-Smith-Kline, which donated $99,000
- Pfizer, which donated $94,000
- Amgen, which donated $74,000
Funds were donated by interests as varied as privatized prison companies (Corrections Corporation of America at $25,000), online homeschool and charter-school programs (K12 Management at $19,000) and an odd and large donation from the Michigan Chamber of Commerce ($225,000).
There are several donations from beverage manufacturers' and bottlers' interests and food companies, several donations from trucking interests, and many other donations from construction companies, trial lawyers, military contractors and financial firms, all in the four-to-six-figure range.
LePage has already indicated support for cutting health care and changing regulations that would require pharmaceutical companies to recycle medications to keep them out of the water supply, and supports charter schools. He is currently trying to rescind Maine's bottle bill, a perennial target of bottlers, which has kept tons of waste out of the landfills and prevented or abated littering statewide. He opposes groundwater regulations that would tax water extraction from Maine's aquifers and would prevent communities from taking action against groundwater pumping in their towns. It is unknown whether he is considering privatizing the prison system yet, or is planning to form some hitherto unknown alliance with Michigan, but it is fair to assume that these funds don't come without some kind of strings attached.
The challenge for us during this administration is to follow those strings and see where they lead, and who is holding them.