Campaign finance reports filed less than two weeks before Election Day show late surges of cash toward ballot questions that could reshape several key issues in Portland. The incoming money is concentrated toward groups that oppose ballot questions that would raise wages for Portland workers.
Restaurant Industry United, a political action committee that opposes the wage increases in referendum Question D, reported donations of more than $360,000 this round, including $175,402 from Uber and $165,000 from food delivery service DoorDash.
Restaurant Industry United is managed by Hospitality Maine, formerly the Maine Restaurant Association, and has raised a total of $474,800 this campaign. If passed, Question D would raise the minimum wage to $18 an hour by 2025 and eliminate the subminimum wage, also known as the tip credit, for delivery drivers and servers in the restaurant industry.
The big-ticket donations from out-of-state firms are joined by another six-figure donation from National Association of Realtors, a trade association for landlords. The real estate lobby donated $100,000 to Enough is Enough Portland, a group opposing all 13 referendum questions on the ballot this fall. The group also received $40,000 from Airbnb.
Enough is Enough, a coalition led by former City Councilor Nick Mavodones and composed of landlords, real estate firms, restaurant owners and hospitality workers, has now raised more than $635,000 in its attempt to strike down all ballot questions this November. The group had already raised more than $439,000, mostly from corporate donors and real estate developers, in the first round of campaign finance reports filed in late September.
One Fair Wage Portland, a group supporting referendum Question D which seeks to raise the minimum wage to $18 per hour, reported to have raised $50,000 from their parent group One Fair Wage Action, a national labor-policy organization based out of Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Question D also received an endorsement from 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton last week.
Restaurant Industry United has used funds to pay for political ad campaigns run by marketing firms in New Hampshire, Virginia, Maryland and Arizona.
Among smaller donations, The Committee to Keep Portland Local, a group supporting referendum Question A, reported to have raised more than $10,185 in the latest round of reporting. Question A would ban commercially run short-term rental properties from out of state.
Yes for Schools, which supports Question 5, reported to have raised just over $1,800 in their 11-day reports. The referendum would give the school board the autonomy over setting its budget before seeking final voter approval.
The 8 Is Great campaign, also known as Yes for Democracy, which supports all eight Charter Commission proposals, reported in their 11-day financials to have raised an additional $730.
The ballot question donations dwarfed the contributions given to candidates in city council and school board races, all of which consisted of small individual donations not exceeding $250.