PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The National Republican Senatorial Committee is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on TV and radio ads, suggesting independent Angus King used political influence to get a federal loan for his former wind power company, when it was developing the Record Hill Wind project in Roxbury, in Western Maine.
King told NEWS CENTER On Thursday he was part of Independence Wind, which was developing the Record Hill project in Roxbury. That project did receive a federal loan of more than $100 million for construction. But King says that loan wasn't approved until long after his company had sold off its share of the project.
King says Independence Wind sold out its interest in record Hill to other investors in January 2011. King's former business partner, Rob Gardiner, says Independence and the other owners of the project, including Wagner Forest Management, had already applied for the federal loan prior to the sale.
Both Gardiner and King say King had no involvement with efforts to secure the loan, and King says he never made any political contacts in regard to the loan application.
In March of this year, shortly after announcing his candidacy for the U.S. Senate, King sold his share of Independence Wind to Gardiner, saying he lost over $300,000 on the sale. King says he decided to sell so he could talk freely about energy issues in the campaign. Shortly after that, a Republican-led committee of the U.S. House began an investigation into the loan to the Record Hill project. That investigation followed complaints about the Obama administration's financial support of the Solyndra solar project. King and Gardiner say the Record Hill loan was made through the same federal program.
King says the timing of his sale of Independence Wind and the Congressional investigation was a total coincidence, and says he knew nothing about the investigation beforehand.
King told NEWS CENTER that claims he profited because of his political influence are "nonsense". And Republican Senate candidate Charlie Summers so far is not mentioning the controversy. In a one-on-one debate with King on Wednesday the issue never came up. And during an environmental debate Thursday morning, there reportedly was discussion of energy subsidies in general but not the specific allegations about the wind farm loan.
The GOP television ad also targets Democrat Cynthia Dill, calling her a "liberal", and criticizing her support for President Obama's policies. Analysts in both parties say Republicans strategists are trying to increase support for Dill and tear down King, in the hope Summers can win. Dill, in a written statement, called the new ad a" brazen effort to try to hoodwink Maine people, hoping to divide voters and "purchase" our U.S. Senate race with out-of-state money."