Former independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler campaigns with his wife, Melanie Cutler, on Aug. 13, 2010, in Topsham. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

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Three top Maine politicians who received campaign contributions from former two-time gubernatorial hopeful Eliot Cutler said they were donating funds to charity on Monday after Cutler was arrested on child pornography charges.

Cutler, a wealthy lawyer who spent much of his early career in Democratic politics but ran for governor as an independent in 2010 and 2014, was charged with four counts related to possession of sexually explicity material involving a child. He is set to appear in court in May.

He had given to many political candidates causes over the years, mostly to independents and moderate Democrats, as well as to efforts to establish ranked-choice voting in Maine, though he has not been among the biggest political donors here over the past decade.

Cutler’s most recent contributions include $3,450 last fall to the 2022 campaign of Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat who faces a challenge from former Gov. Paul LePage later this year. Mills’ campaign said Monday that the contributions from Cutler, as well as members of his family, had been donated to the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

“Like people across Maine, the Governor was stunned and appalled by the news,” campaign spokesperson Alexandra Raposo said. “Exploitation of children — the most innocent and vulnerable among us — is despicable and a fundamental violation of humanity. She hopes that the judicial system will deliver justice and accountability.”

In 2018, Cutler gave $359 to the campaign of now-U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, a Democrat from the 2nd District. After Cutler’s arrest, Golden’s campaign gave $1,000 to the Maine Human Trafficking Survivors Fund under the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault, a spokesperson said Monday.

Cutler also gave $5,000 to the campaign of now-Sen. Angus King in 2012. King endorsed Cutler during the latter’s 2010 gubernatorial run. He did so again in 2014 before switching his support to Mike Michaud, a Democrat, when it seemed Cutler had little chance of winning. Cutler did not donate to King’s 2018 campaign.

A spokesperson for King, a former two-term governor, said his staff was working to document all contributions he had ever received from Cutler and would donate the equivalent amount to a Maine charity.

Donations to Mills, Golden and King reflect a relatively small fraction of Cutler’s political spending over the years. His total state-level political contributions since 2014 total roughly $18,500, according to data from the state ethics regulator.

Cutler has made just over $100,000 in federal political contributions since 2000, according to data from the Federal Election Commission, with roughly half of those funds going toward political committees associated with a law firm and investment bank he worked at.

Many of the candidates he gave to are no longer in politics. Other federal contributions include several donations to the campaign of now-President Joe Biden in 2020 and the presidential campaign of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in 2016.

Cutler also made contributions to Republicans, most recently in 2013 to Senate candidate Dan Winslow of Massachusetts. He also donated to longtime Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe’s campaign in 2005, federal records show. She was the only prominent Maine Republican whom Cutler gave money to. 

Despite his giving to several prominent Maine politicians, Cutler is far from one of the largest donors in Maine in recent years. Since 2014, more than 100 individual contributors have given more toward state-level races in Maine. The top donors to both Republican and Democratic causes have given more than 20 times as much as Cutler did.