Both major-party U.S. Senate candidates in Maine have net worths of more than $1 million, according to recent financial disclosures in a highly watched race in which campaign money has been a main talking point.
Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican, and House Speaker Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, are in a tight battle for Maine’s U.S. Senate seat. Both filed their mandatory financial disclosure forms with a U.S. Senate committee this week after requesting extensions earlier this year.
Collins and her husband, Tom Daffron, a veteran political operative, disclosed a net worth between $2.3 and $6.9 million. Gideon and her husband, lawyer Ben Gideon, have a net worth between $1 million and $3.1 million. Disclosures only require candidates to list ranges of values for assets and liabilities.
Most of the Gideons’ assets are in mutual funds, while Daffron has engaged in trading stock, though a spokesperson for the senator said all trading decisions were made by a third-party adviser and had no relation to Collins’ role as a senator.
Members of Congress are allowed to trade stock like private citizens, though the issue came under scrutiny earlier this year after it was revealed that several senators, most notably Sen. Richard Burr, R-North Carolina, sold millions of dollars in stock shortly before the coronavirus pandemic tanked the market in March, raising questions about whether they used insider information from congressional briefings to make trading decisions.
None of Maine’s members of Congress were tied up in that scandal. Neither Collins nor her husband, nor any adviser acting on their behalf, engaged in trading stocks in the months prior to the pandemic, the filings show.
Republicans have raised Gideon’s investments in mutual funds as an issue, saying they conflict with a commitment she made to divest fossil fuel investments. But a spokesperson said the candidate and her husband moved investments into so-called environmental, social and governance funds that generally avoid fossil fuel companies earlier this year. That was after the scope of these reports, which covered the 2019 calendar year.
Neither Collins nor Gideon is anywhere near the richest member of Congress, a title that likely belongs to Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Georgia, with an estimated net worth of around $500 million. Maine’s other senator, independent Angus King, who was re-elected easily in 2018, is worth between $3.9 million and $16.3 million, according to his most recent disclosure.
The ad reiterates several lines that Republicans have used against Gideon this cycle, attacking her on taxes, Maine’s coronavirus response and the Paycheck Protection Program.
Collins is facing the toughest re-election challenge of her career this fall, as recent public polling has shown Gideon in a narrow lead. Unenrolled candidates Lisa Savage, a teacher from Solon and former member of the Green party, and Max Linn, a businessman from Bar Harbor, are also in the race, which will use ranked-choice voting.
Money has been a major talking point in the race, as Democrats have criticized Collins for her vote for a 2017 Republican tax bill that yielded greatest benefits for the wealthy, while Republicans have gone after Gideon over issues related to her husband’s past business interests.
Candidates and members of Congress are required to file yearly financial reports, which include information on their assets, liabilities and sources of income. Savage reported a net worth of between $165,000 and $380,000 earlier this year. Linn has not yet filed a disclosure, but he is a wealthy retired financial planner.