Merger campaign spending continues to be lopsided

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AUBURN — The latest campaign finance reports show that the pro-merger One LA raised more than $70,000 in less than a month since the last filing — and it came mostly from two donors. 

During the same time, from Oct. 1-24, the anti-merger Coalition Opposed to Lewiston-Auburn Consolidation, raised $912.

The numbers continue to show a lopsided financial outlook and philosophy for the campaigns, and also indicates a push by One LA to change minds over the final month. A bulk of One LA’s expenses, which soared to $93,551 over the period, have gone toward television advertising.

According to One LA’s report, $60,000 raised came from two people very familiar to the campaign — Gene Geiger, chairman of the Lewiston-Auburn Joint Charter Commission, and Tom Platz of architectural firm Platz Associates. 

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Both men had previously contributed $30,000 each to One LA, which makes their combined contributions $120,000. 

Asked Wednesday about his considerable financial support for the campaign, Geiger said he has been all-in on the merger initiative and is backing up his enthusiasm with resources. 

“It takes a lot of money to overcome a countercampaign whose objective is to raise fear and doubt,” he said, referring to the COLAC campaign. “I believe in One LA. I believe we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in front of us. So, I am putting my money where my mouth is.” 

Other significant donations to One LA came from Jim Wellehan, owner of Lamey Wellehan shoes stores, for $3,000, and Peter Garcia, an attorney and One LA volunteer, and James Pittman of Jim’s Auto Sales, for $2,000 each. 

Platz did not return a call seeking comment for this story.

Most of the group’s expenses went to Rinck Advertising for television ads, which cost nearly $70,000.  

During the past month, One LA has accumulated the support of Lewiston’s former longtime deputy city administrator, Phil Nadeau, Mayor Bob Macdonald and a number of former mayors in both cities. It also garnered the support of the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.

For COLAC, the only individual contribution listed on its Oct. 27 report is $100 from Matt Leonard, who has been closely involved in the campaign. He took the podium during the final debate between the campaigns. 

The rest on the campaign’s report are five separate “unitemized contributions” totaling $815. 

Much like its previous report, COLAC expenditures have gone toward signs. The last expenditure listed on the report, on Oct. 15, was $1,500 for lawn signs.

Since then, COLAC has hosted a fiery “rally” for supporters at the Sixth Street Congregational Church, where it was handing out free “no merger” T-shirts, while continuing its social media presence. The group has pressed its argument that the no-merger campaign is the real “grassroots” effort.

The previous finance reports, which covered between July 1 and Sept. 30, showed a very similar picture of the campaigns: One LA raised $79,925 and spent $46,339, while COLAC took in $2,682 and spent $1,292. 

There will likely be more activity in the final days of the campaign.

Following the latest filing, which represents contributions received by Oct. 24, One LA has also disclosed an additional contribution of $5,000 and an expenditure of about $4,700.

arice@sunjournal.com 

Campaign finances between Oct. 1 – Oct. 24:

One LA

Cash contributions: $71,775

Expenditures: $93,551

The Coalition Opposed to Lewiston-Auburn Consolidation

Cash contributions: $915

Expenditures: $1,554 

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  • bstone04210

    “Just win, Baby!” from your friends at COLAC

  • bob Mennealy

    I am confident that Auburn citizens that care will not let their votes be bought. Vote no on the merger!