Just 19 companies kicked in $180,000 of the $255,000 raised by Dec. 24 for the inaugural festivities.
Janet Mills arrives at her first inauguration ceremony on Jan. 2, 2019, at the Augusta Civic Center in Augusta. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

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Just as it was in 2019, Gov. Janet Mills’ inaugural celebrations will be largely paid for by some of Maine’s biggest companies, lobbying firms and others doing business here.

Just 19 companies kicked in $180,000 of the $255,000 in total that the Democratic governor’s inaugural committee raised by Dec. 24. The committee must report the rest of its fundraising and spending by mid-February. At that time, it must shut down.

The context: The festivities consist of the Democratic governor’s swearing-in on Wednesday, followed by an invitation-only celebration with food, music and dancing on Thursday night. The latter event will be ticketed at $30 per person.

Under a 2015 campaign finance law, Mills became the first governor who had to fully disclose fundraising and spending for her inaugural and transition committees. In 2010, former Gov. Paul LePage voluntarily disclosed transition and inaugural donors but not amounts. But he was allowed to roll over funding into his own political operation and Mills cannot do that now.

Here’s the money: Only the inaugural side comes into play this time as she is holding the office, and we got our first view of its finances on Tuesday.

Donors are led by the law and lobbying firm Bernstein Shur, ND Paper and the developers of Rock Row in Westbrook, which each kicked in $20,000. The health insurer Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Charter Communications and Pierce Atwood were among those kicking in $10,000 each. Churchill Downs, Hannaford and a Boston-based company partnering in a Maine offshore wind project gave $5,000 each. So did MaineHealth, which is the state’s dominant health care provider and employs Mills’ sister, Dora Mills, as an executive.

How it compares: Ahead of the 2019 inauguration, Mills’ operation said it would not solicit transition team donations from lobbyists or the firms that employ them. They did allow them for the inauguration and they are this time as well. Many of the governor’s 2019 donors also gave to LePage in 2010, so they can be seen as trying to buy goodwill across the political spectrum.Mills will hope for a smoother operation in 2023. Her committee was fined in 2019 for running 10 months over a deadline to pay tens of thousands in inauguration debt to the city of Augusta, which owns the civic center where she will celebrate again this time around.

Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after three years as a reporter at the Kennebec Journal. A Hallowell native who now lives in Augusta, he graduated from the University of Maine in...