November 23, 2022

Opponents of Portland referendums far outnumber supporters in latest financial reports

Opponents of the 13 ballot questions for Portland voters to consider this fall have raised significantly more money than supporters and hold a significant fundraising advantage a month before the November election.

Three groups formed to oppose ballot issues collectively raised $590,924 from July 20 to September 30 and $388,896 remains, according to new campaign finance reports filed with the city this week. Most of the money was raised by Enough is Enough, which raised $439,138 and $282,025 remains.

Voting Matters supporters collectively raised $13,599 during the reporting period and $19,049 remains, including money raised prior to the last reporting period. The groups mainly spent money on advertising, marketing and campaign materials.

Maine DSA for a Livable Portland, the ballot issues committee formed to support four citizen-initiated referenda presented by the Maine chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America’s Livable Portland campaign, raised $9,308 this time and 5 remain. $003.

Wes Pelletier, chairman of the Livable Portland campaign, responded to the latest fundraising reports in a statement on Friday, saying groups opposed to referendums and charter issues “present themselves as if they represent workers, tenants and everyday working class Portland,” but that “what these campaign finance reports make clear, however, is that they actually represent big business, out-of-state corporations, promoters and owners.

“Livable Portland raised a small fraction of the amount raised by our opponents, and we’re very proud of that,” said Pelletier, who noted that the majority of campaign donors were from Maine and gave less than $100 each. “We have no paid staff or consultants, and our dozens of volunteers give their time and labor to this fight because we’re not here for the money, we’re here for the many.”

Enough is Enough was organized to defeat all 13 questions, although the group mainly focused on the four questions sponsored by the DSA. Part of his message is that there are too many referendums on the ballot and it’s too difficult to know the unintended consequences of each, let alone how the proposals might affect each other if multiple issues are adopted.

Matt Marks, a spokesperson for Enough is Enough, said Friday that the group “was pleasantly surprised by how many people contributed both small and large amounts to say, ‘Hey, we’ve got some. enough of that “.”

Some of their biggest donations include $50,000 each from Uber and DoorDash. The group also received $25,000 from a San Francisco company, Seaforth Housing. Ballot questions supporters slammed those donations on Friday.

“It is disappointing that the leaders of Enough is Enough – former councilor Nick Mavodones and local property owner and developer Ned Payne – have decided to pour so much money into local politics,” said the group Yes for Democracy, which supports the Charter Commission’s eight proposals. , said in a statement.

CLAIMED LOCAL CONNECTIONS

Marks said he was not aware of any substantial donations to Enough is Enough that did not have a local connection. Uber and DoorDash have employees in Portland whose jobs would become tougher under Question D, which seeks to raise the city’s minimum wage, due to a provision affecting their status as independent contractors, it said. he declares. And he said Seaforth Housing operates an apartment building in Portland.

Enough is Enough also drew criticism from referendum supporters this week after it missed Wednesday’s deadline to file its campaign finance report. Marks and a City of Portland spokesperson said this was due to a typo in the email address used to submit the report. Marks said after the group was notified of the error, he filed the report with the city on Thursday. There will be no penalty for late filing, city spokeswoman Jessica Grondin said.

Fair Elections Portland, a group supporting the charter commission’s clean elections proposal (Issue 3), said in a statement on Thursday that it was “disappointed but not surprised that this anti-democratic campaign cannot take the trouble following the basic disclosure requirements already in place”. square.”

Anna Kellar, the group’s president, said Friday she was pleased to hear the report had been filed. Kellar’s group has raised just $501 this time, not including $3,200 in in-kind donations, and has $9,612 on hand. Kellar said his group believes there is broad support in Portland for the Clean Elections Proposal, which would create a mechanism for public funding of local election candidates, and is not worried about being spent.

Kellar also said the amount of money raised by Enough is Enough and other groups underscores the need for the proposal, which would primarily impact campaign spending for candidate races. Although a provision prohibiting foreign contributions would apply to voting matters.

“We see a lot of the same interest groups that are giving to this ‘No to Referendums’ campaign that are also giving to the candidates,” Kellar said. “It’s largely the same players – real estate agents, large restaurant associations. All of these groups, although they have a legitimate voice in the political process, they should not be able to use these contributions to have their say.

BIG EXPENSES IN CONSULTATION

Enough is Enough spent a significant portion of its raised money – $124,613 – with LFD Strategies in Scarborough. The address listed on the campaign finance report is the same as the address of Red Hill Strategies, a public relations and consulting firm co-founded by Lance Dutson, a consultant who has worked on a number of Republican campaigns.

Marks confirmed Friday that Enough is Enough has hired Dutson to work primarily on digital advertising. Maine’s DSA tweeted Thursday that Enough is Enough “is secretly run by a GOP operative named Lance Dutson.”

Dutson did not respond to messages requesting an interview Friday night, but Marks said it didn’t matter whether the company used to buy and place ads was run by a Republican or a Democrat. “The message is in no way slanted, shape or form,” he said.

Two other polling committees registered with the city also raised significant funds to oppose the referenda. Restaurant Industry United, which opposes Question D and its elimination of the sub-minimum wage or tip credit, raised $128,700 and is left with $87,989.

And Protect Portland’s Future, which opposes charter commission issues 2 and 5, has raised $23,086 this time and has $18,882 left.

Restaurant Industry United’s largest donations include $25,000 each from Uber and DoorDash, and $50,000 from the National Restaurant Association. He also received smaller donations from a handful of Portland restaurants, including Bruno’s Restaurant and Tavern, Gritty McDuff’s, DiMillo’s on the Water and Dock Fore.

Greg Dugal, spokesman for Restaurant Industry United, said all members of Hospitality Maine, a trade group representing Maine’s hospitality industry, are members of the National Restaurant Association, which is why the group is supporting his campaign.

And he said Uber and DoorDash not only rely on restaurants for their business, but have workers in Portland who could be impacted by Issue D. “They operate in the city of Portland and their product is available in the city. of Portland,” Dugal said. “They also have to represent their interests. … We all know that what they do will be seriously altered if what is proposed passes.

Uber did not respond to an email Friday requesting information about its donations. In a statement, a DoorDash spokesperson said, “Our mission is to grow and strengthen local economies, and we do this by helping to connect Portland customers with the best in their community. These sweeping measures would have a devastating impact on the ability of local businesses – including the merchants we support in Portland – to serve their customers while threatening the flexible revenue opportunities Dashers overwhelmingly tell us value.

EXPLOITATION OR INDEPENDENCE?

Payment for “dashers” is based on estimated time, distance and timeliness of an order, customer tips and promotions, the company said. On average, dashers earn more than $25 an hour, including 100% tips, and work less than four hours a week, the company said.

Information on the Livable Portland campaign website says Question D “will ensure that all independent contractors (including food delivery people, Uber and Lyft drivers) receive full minimum wage, so they don’t continue to be exploited by businesses that only provide irregular income.

At a city council meeting in August, an Uber driver told council he frequently takes rides at the Portland International Jetport. In one instance, he took someone to Boston for $102 and Uber took $35. “It was 102 miles down, and I had to come all the way back to Portsmouth without a ride,” said driver Louis Ouellette. “So how much am I as an independent business and myself?” He said he supported question D.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction and I would be interested in working with the sponsors, as well as the upcoming department, to work out the details to help myself and other drivers moving this town to make things fair and just,” he said.

But another driver, identified in the meeting minutes as Ed Ahlemeyer, said he was surprised to hear support for the proposal.

“The reason I’m an Uber driver is that I don’t have to be someone’s employee,” Ahlemeyer said. “That’s what will happen if it passes. We will be forced to be employees. I will lose flexibility in my work. …If you want to enjoy the benefits of being an employee, don’t be an independent contractor. This right should not be taken away.


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