New Analysis: “Mainers for Fair Wages” Overwhelmingly Funded by Non-Mainers

New funding disclosures show out-of-state money funds vast majority of campaign for $12 starting wage
  • Publication Date: October 2016

  • Topics: Minimum Wage

Washington D.C. – Today, the Employment Policies Institute (EPI) released an analysis of new campaign finance data from the Maine Ethics Commission which shows that the Mainers for Fair Wages political action committee (PAC) has received at least 75 percent of its monetary contributions from out-of-state donors. These donors include national labor unions, other labor-funded PACs, and labor-aligned advocacy groups. The disclosures show that Mainers for Fair Wages PAC may have received as much as 95 percent of its monetary support from out-of-state donors, when a roughly $138,000 transfer of funds in June from its ballot question committee (which also received a majority of its support from out-of-state) is factored into the calculations.

When in-kind contributions, such as professional services, are factored in to the analysis, the results are largely unchanged: The Mainers for Fair Wages PAC received at least 68 percent of its donations from out-of-state donors. This figure could be as high as 86 percent when the ballot question committee donation is factored in.

These out-of-state donors to the PAC and BQC include:

  • The Fairness Project, a Stanford, California-based political advocacy group conceived by a controversial west-coast labor boss.
  • Stephen Silberstein, a California-based member of the secretive left-wing funding group Democracy Alliance.
  • Restaurant Opportunities Center, a New York-based advocacy group that’s been sued in the past by its own members for failure to pay minimum wage.

Mainers for Fair Wages is advocating for a 60 percent increase in the state’s minimum wage to $12 an hour, and a 220 percent increase in the minimum wage for tipped employees. The campaign has previously claimed that its effort is a “people-powered campaign” whose members come “from every corner of the state.”

Download the entire Maine Ethics Commission funding database here.

Earlier this year, EPI released an analysis by Drs. David Macpherson of Trinity University and William Even of Miami University which found that roughly 3,800 jobs would be lost in the state at $12, the majority of which would come from small businesses.  Read the analysis here. Read EPI’s op-ed in the Portland Press-Herald discussing the analysis here.

“This week’s funding disclosures make clear that Mainers for Fair Wages is little more than a front group for national labor organizations and their extreme agenda,” said Michael Saltsman, research director at EPI. “Rather than taking cues from out-of-state donors, Maine voters should listen to the concerns of local small businesses and the people they employ.”

For more information, visit To schedule an interview, contact Jordan Bruneau at (202) 463-7650 or [email protected].

The Employment Policies Institute is a nonprofit research organization dedicated to studying public policy issues surrounding employment growth. In particular, EPI focuses on issues that affect entry-level employment. EPI receives support from restaurants, foundations, and individuals.