- Views & Opinions
The Federal Election Commission is raising questions about last-minute election expenditures by a pro-Donald Trump super PAC that has already acknowledged making mistakes regarding the sources and amounts of its contributions and whose contributors include an L.L. Bean heiress.
The FEC contends the Making Maine Great Again political action committee may have violated rules that give PACs 24 hours to report expenditures of $1,000 or more in the two to 20 days before an election. Previously, the FEC asked the PAC to clarify contributions that appeared to be too large.
L.L. Bean heiress Linda Bean is an outspoken conservative who ran for Congress in 1988 and 1992 and has opposed gay rights legislation, abortion rights and gun control. Her contributions garnered calls for a national boycott of the Freeport-based outdoors retailer and a tweet from Trump supporting the company.
The PAC originally reported Linda Bean donated $60,000. Revised reports show she contributed $25,000 while her sister gave $20,000. Another $20,000 came from five other previously undisclosed donors including a Westbrook-based company and the PAC’s chairman.
The Associated Press in January brought to light that the FEC was questioning whether Making Maine Great Again was properly registered as a super PAC.
PAC Chairman David Jones contends its paperwork, which it later revised, is now “crystal clear” and all of the donations were legal. He suggested there was confusion over the source of donations because “they came in through wire transfers with no name attached.”
“The FEC has reviewed it and given us their blessing,” Jones said. “They’re 100 percent in our court. They agree it’s not a problem, no wrongdoing whatsoever.”
The FEC has the power to bring penalties but infrequently does. It assessed nearly $600,000 in civil penalties in 2016 compared with $5.5 million in 2006.
In a letter dated Sunday, the FEC said the PAC failed to promptly report $2,250 in last-minute expenditure reports for Atlantic Coast Radio and Tim Pro Media.
“Although the commission may take further action concerning this matter, your prompt response will be taken into consideration,” FEC analyst Kevin Fortkiewicz wrote.
Jones said the PAC will “clarify two small transactions” immediately.
The PAC reported $70,000 in expenditures. That includes roughly $51,000 for radio ads, website work and television ads to Atlantic Coast Radio, ACR host Ray Richardson and a solely owned company he used to buy pro-Trump Time Warner Cable ads for the PAC.
The anti-Trump Grab Your Wallet campaign includes L.L. Bean on its list of companies to boycott. It called for Linda Bean to leave the company’s board.
Linda Bean, who remains on the board, didn’t respond to requests for comment Tuesday. She previously said she donated to the PAC after hearing about vandalism of its signs.
L.L. Bean tries to stay out of politics, and its leaders have made individual donations to both major political parties.