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Maine: Strimling Wonders Why Pingree Donor Is Giving

State Sen. Ethan Strimling’s campaign said he has a returned a $250 donation from what his campaign determined was a supporter of one of his Democratic opponents in the 1st district House race, former Common Cause President Chellie Pingree. The two Democrats are in a six-way primary to replace Rep. Tom Allen (D), who is running for Senate.

Strimling’s campaign said a $250 online donation from Selwyn Sussman of Rye Brook, N.Y., was received in the waning days of the first financial reporting quarter, hours after his campaign sent out an e-mail criticizing Pingree for accepting more than 10 percent of the campaign’s total contributions from employees and associates of the hedge fund Paloma Partners. That hedge fund’s founder and chairman is Donald Sussman, also a frequent Democratic donor.

Though yet to be confirmed by Sussman himself, Strimling’s campaign says Selwyn Sussman and Donald Sussman are the same person. Federal Election Commission records online show “Donald Sussman” has given to Democratic causes and candidates in the past from addresses in Greenwich, Conn., and St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. There is no record of “Selwyn Sussman” donating to any political causes monitored by the FEC.

“This is nothing more than attempted dirty politics by the Pingree camp, right out of the Republican Party play-book,” said Corey Hascall, Strimling’s campaign manager. “Ethan is trying to get big special interest money out of politics, and Pingree is trying to spread hers around. We don’t play this kind of politics and we expected better from her campaign.”

Pingree’s communications director, Willy Ritch, said the campaign does not have any control over what its donors do.

“Chellie Pingree and her entire campaign staff are entirely focused on spreading her positive message of change on issues important to Mainers — ending the war in Iraq, fixing our economy and solving our health care crisis,” Ritch said. “Neither she nor anyone in her campaign has any knowledge of or has been involved with directing contributions to any of her opponents.”
— Shira Toeplitz

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