Maine marijuana and tax campaigns load up on cash

The campaigns to legalize marijuana and fund education spending with a new tax on the state’s highest earners came close to doubling their already substantial campaign coffers in September.

Campaign disclosures filed Wednesday night show that groups supporting both ballot questions in September raised about 40 percent of what they’d raised prior to that month, both from two large donors.

Opponents of the tax question and of expanded background checks on gun sales also significantly increased fundraising that continues to lag far behind groups supporting those questions.

The totals only reflect fundraising by committees registered to advocate for and against these specific questions. Independent outside groups may also spend to influence these questions.

(September fundraising shown in orange below.)

The marijuana campaign, Question 1, received almost all of its $821,817 from an earlier contributor, the Washington, D.C.-based New Approach PAC. That group put another $725,000 into the coffers of groups supporting legalization in Maine, bringing its total contribution to about $1.3 million so far.

Related: Take a deeper dive into who’s funding each ballot question campaign.

The tax campaign, Question 2, received a second infusion from the National Education Association in September, adding $750,000 to its coffers for the month. That made up about 60 percent of donations to groups supporting Question 2 so far and about 80 percent of the donations in September.

Though fundraising slowed, the fight for expanding background checks for gun sales continued to attract the most cash, getting the bulk of its September cash from former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords’ Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC.

Multiple groups opposed to ballot questions also made their boosted their coffers in September, with opponents of the marijuana question raising about $73,000 for the month.

The No on 3 campaign, opposing expanded background checks, raised almost all of the money for this election cycle in September, bringing in $419,408, almost all from the National Rifle Association.

The defunct campaign for a York County casino also showed signs that it will resurrect the effort next year, with a new contribution from developer Shawn Scott’s sister, Lisa Scott.

To see all groups spending at least $5,000 advocating for passage or defeat of one of the questions on the ballot in November, search for ballot election year 2016 on this page maintained by the Maine Ethics Commission.

Darren Fishell

About Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.