Citizens Unified for Maine’s Future: Made of the Finest Astroturf

by Crocker on October 6, 2009, 9:12 am

in Economics,Education,Politics

The Maine Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) is not opposed by the taxpayers. It’s opposed, rather, by a coalition of unions, leftist non-profit groups and larger businesses. And guess what they all have in common? Their revenue derives, directly or indirectly, from the very same taxpayers they oppose. What a surprise.

These anti-taxpayer unions, businesses and non-profit groups have organized a political action committee (PAC) calling itself “Citizens Unified for Maine’s Future” (CUMF). It is by no means a “citizens group” – far from it. In reality, it’s a coalition of the groups just mentioned: unions, businesses with state contracts and non-profits that survive not by raising money from the community, but through contracts with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services totaling over $500 million.

But what are the specifics? Well, CUMF’s PAC registration tells us a lot:

1. The PAC’s Address – 60 Community Drive, Augusta, Maine. That just happens to be the address of the Maine Municipal Association. I’m shocked.

2. The PAC’s “Primary Decisionmakers”. They’re the cream of the union-nonprofit-state contractor axis:

Mark Gray. Mark is executive director of the Maine Education Association. MEA funds itself through mandatory union dues from its members – taxpayer paid teachers. We’ve seen his handiwork in prior posts (think, “slasher film” and “pests”).

Richard Trahey. Richard is an old Augusta hand. He’s been a lobbyist for the Maine State Employees Union, now a wholly-owned subsidiary of SEIU-ACORN. Union dues again.

Jill Goldthwaite. Jill is a former state senator who chaired the appropriations committee during her time in the Legislature. She now works as a director in the Office of Government Affairs at the Jackson Labs in Bar Harbor.

Tim Belcher. Tim is the recently-resigned head of MSEU-SEIU. Last year, he was charged with criminally restraining a UPS driver who was trying to leave his property after making a delivery. His wife Deb Hutton – herself a former legislator – recently filed a harassing – and unsuccessful – ethics complaint against Maine Leads.

Ben Dudley. Ben is an old hand in radical circles in Maine. He works closely with the non-profit crowd and has helped organize two generally-related front groups pushing the publicly-funded non-profit agenda, Maine Can Do Better and EngageMaine.

Maria Fuentes. Maria Fuentes is the executive director of the Maine Better Transportation Association, whose primary function is to lobby the Legislature for more highway and transportation funding. While no one is against better roads, we can’t help but observe that MBTA’s most recent corporate annual report reveals one Jim Hanley, Director of Government Affairs for Pike Industries, as one of its directors. It just so happens that Mr. Hanley has been a vocal taxpayer opponent, writing anti-TABOR editorials in the Bangor Daily News and the Portland Press Herald, as well as appearing on panels sponsored by the Maine Center for Economic Policy with our old friend Iris Lav. What Mr. Hanley fails to disclose is that his employer, Pike Industries, has received state contracts over the last three years totaling $60 million.

Chris Lockwood. Chris is executive director of the Maine Municipal Association. Enough said.

3. CUMF’s Principal Spokesperson. That would, of course, be Crystal Canney, a former WGME-TV reporter who went from reporting to a job as Gov. Baldacci’s media director. She just quit her $100,000 taxpayer-funded position with the Maine Department of Administration and Finance to work in a campaign to suppress the very taxpayers who paid her government salary and, in all likelihood, pay her current salary from CUMF.

All of this is pretty deep astroturf. And when CUMF’s PAC report comes out on October 13, we’ll find out who’s been paying what.

Closing question: is there anyone on the other side who’s not on the taxpayer dole in some way, shape or form?

For more information on the Maine Taxpayer Bill of Rights, please visit the TABOR NOW website.

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Thomas Maher October 6, 2009 at 7:14 pm

In the same spirit of accusations without proof, the author of this piece is obviously paid by ant-american interests. The same interests that applauded America losing the Olympic bid. Obviously traitors and Anti Americans.
Tabor is no more than a lost idea that has been defeated over an over or repealed in other locations because in the end all it does is destroy public services while lowering corporate tax rates. These are the same racist, homophobic bigots that are rallying the troops to deny themselves healthcare and insure insurance company profits.
Anyone that can not lift the sheet off of this group or at least peer through the eyeholes into the real profit motive behind the tirades will deserve what they get if they follow this group.
No, I take that back, the leaders of this group will push from behind because they will preserve themselves while sacrificing the ignorant.

Jim Keil October 8, 2009 at 2:50 pm

I’m in favor of TABOR, so there must be some connection between me and the “interests” mentioned by Mr. Maher. Except for one thing: there is no connection. How about being for TABOR because our elected officials have been “tone deaf” to the screams of taxpayers, who, for years have pointed out that this state cannot possibly afford the spending levels of recent history. Not even close! So, rather than call us racist, homohobic bigots, which has become the all too familiar refrain of those who defend the indefensible, why not answer the question of how necessary spending cuts get made in the face of overwhelming evidence saying our elected officials will not make them.

parker k October 10, 2009 at 9:54 am

This is a great piece. I wish reporters would do this type of reporting. Keep it up!

Jim K. Well said.

Steve Clark October 23, 2009 at 5:13 am

It’s only been in the last few weeks that I’ve bothered to even listen to the debates in the press concerning the up coming ballot questions. I had no idea what TABOR was. Thanks for the info. It will certainly help when I vote.

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