Portland Question 2 foes outspent supporters by more than $100K

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PORTLAND — A spending blitz of almost $66,000 by foes of Question 2 covered airwaves and filled mailboxes in the days before the Nov. 3 election.

The surge created a more than $100,000 funding advantage for opponents of the question that would have amended city zoning rules, particularly at the Portland Co. complex at 58 Fore St.

The referendum question lost by a vote of 11,794 to 7,003.

The 42-day spending reports due Tuesday detailed the fundraising and spending from Oct. 23 through the election.

Referendum opponent Portland’s Future spent more than $43,300 with city-based Mach3 Media. More than $28,000 went for three direct mailings, the remainder for advertising air time.

All reports filed by the political action committee show Portland’s Future raised $142,000 from August through the election to fight the referendum. Sixty thousand dollars came from CPB2, the partnership of Kevin Costello, Jim Brady and Casey Prentice, which owns the Portland Co. complex.

“We felt we had a lot at stake. We wanted to defend our interest,” Brady said Monday. “It was on the order of magnitude of we expected to spend.”

Two other reports show the PAC spent $72,000 from August through Oct. 20, which does not include operating expenses for items such as processing online contributions through Paypal.

While he was not fully involved with the PAC strategies, Brady said direct mail explaining how the referendum could affect the entire city was critical.

Referendum originators Save the Soul of Portland filed a 42-day report showing their PAC spent about $11,250 after Oct. 23, while raising $3,500.

Prior finance reports showed Save the Soul of Portland raised $26,800 and spent $26,700 since June.

A second PAC opposing the referendum, Maine Media Collective, reported no additional spending or contributions after Oct. 23. The PAC was established by the publishers of Old Port magazine, which dedicated its October edition to opposing the referendum. Included in the Portland’s Future expenditures is a $9,000 payment for a back-cover ad in the magazine.

Fundraising and spending by Maine Media Collective was the subject of an ethics complaint filed by Save the Soul of Portland. The complaint was rejected Nov. 5 by City Clerk Katherine Jones. Last month, Jonathan Wayne, executive director of the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices, also said the commission would not act on the complaint.

Save the Soul of Portland has closed out its accounts, but Portland’s Future and Maine Media Collective must file quarterly spending reports in January because of unpaid debts.

Portland’s Future lists a $5,000 unpaid debt to the Bernstein Shur law firm for campaign management, PAC filings and tax preparation. Maine Media Collective lists a $10,700 debt to Lane Press for printing the Old Port magazine edition.

The Portland’s Future 42-day report shows a $4,000 contribution from Pittsfield-based contractors Cianbro, and $1,800 from state Sen. Justin Alfond, D-Portland. Earlier in the campaign, Cape Elizabeth businessman Robert C. S. Monks contributed $10,000, and city-based developers J.B. Brown & Sons contributed $5,000.

Brady said he and his partners are now focused on the nomination of a portion of the 10-acre Portland Co. property as a city historic district and working out the extent of a Thames Street right of way with the city.

Both will determine the details of a master plan for mixed-use development on the land, Brady said, adding he expects the historic district to be considered by the City Council in January.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Portland’s Future, a PAC that opposed Question 2, raised $142,000 during the campaign this fall, including $60,000 from owners of the Portland Co. complex.