You may not remember, but Cynical Chellie Pingree was once leader of the political advocacy group, Common Cause. While working for Common Cause she testified before Congress, saying “Most Americans never have and never will fly on a chartered jet, much less a fancy corporate jet complete with wet bar and leather couches. So when members of Congress constantly fly around on corporate jets and pay only the cost of a commercial ticket, it contributes to the corrosive public perception that members of Congress are more like the fat cats of Wall Street than they are like the rest of us.”
Fast forward several years and Cynical Chellie was living the lavish life with her fiance at the time, a billionaire hedge fund manager Democratic mega-donor.
Seeming to forget how wealth and private jets contribute to the perception that members of Congress are like the "fat cats of Wall Street" who own such jets, Cynical Chellie enjoyed all the benefits that accompany being in a relationship with a hedge fund billionaire. She frequently flew across the country and even to a private estate in the Virgin Island’s with fellow “fat cat” Congressman Barney Frank.
Cynical Chellie was finally given a reality check in 2013 when the Federal Elections Commission ruled in favor of a 2010 complaint filed by The Maine Republican Party, pointing out that this kind of travel was in violation of the Election Laws.
As the Bangor Daily News highlighted, “FEC regulations prohibit U.S. House candidates from traveling on noncommercial aircrafts during their campaigns and from accepting in-kind contributions in the form of noncommercial air travel. The law does allow candidates to travel on aircraft owned or leased by a candidate’s ‘immediate family member,’ but the FEC ruled that because Pingree and Sussman were not yet married, Pingree’s use of the jet was illegal.”
Maine Republican Party Chairman Richard Bennett offered his thoughts, “In the action by the Federal Election Commission, the Maine GOP’s complaint is vindicated,” said Bennett. “The fact that we are even discussing the proper reporting of the use of private jets suggests that Congresswoman Pingree is out of touch with the working people of Maine’s First District.”
If anything, Cynical Chellie Pingree is more out of touch and out of state than ever. Maine’s First Congressional District needs someone who is from and in the community, someone who can identify with the struggles of everyday Mainers.