MAINE, USA — When a campaign is over—when the staff and volunteers are gone, buttons are put away, and yards are clear of signs—what happens to the leftover money candidates spent months raising? In Maine, there was a lot of it.
The race for Maine’s U.S. Senate seat was the state’s most expensive, and arguably most contentious between Republican Sen. Susan Collins and Democrat Sara Gideon. Gideon, who was unsuccessful in her bid to unseat Collins and help Democrats tip control of the Senate, ended her campaign with more than $14 million leftover.
“Full Plates Full Potential, and Keep ME Warm work every day to help Maine families through this difficult time, and I’m proud to support them,” Gideon said. “I’ve always believed that public service is about making a difference and improving the lives of people in your community. Helping Maine people is what inspired me to run for office and it’s what continues to guide me today.”
Gideon will donate $250,000 to Full Plates Full Potential, a coalition of community leaders and advocates working to end child hunger in Maine by increasing access to nutritious food, breaking down barriers to food access, and investing in schools. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Full Plates Full Potential has been working to ensure that Maine children who rely on school-provided meals still have safe and easy access to nutritious food. Gideon’s campaign also held a charity drive for the charity this spring.
Keep ME Warm, Maine’s only statewide donation-based heating assistance effort, will get a $100,000 donation from the campaign. Keep ME Warm has a partnership with Maine’s United Ways and Community Action Programs that provides direct heating assistance to Maine families.
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has strict rules about campaign finances and what can and can’t be done with leftover funds. Funds can be used for any remaining campaign bills, debts, and expenses that were accrued while winding down a campaign after defeat or suspension. Charitable donations are among the approved uses. The biggest rule—no personal use.
There is no set deadline for candidates to use the leftover funds.