Sara Gideon’s team made her leave a public event, then newspapers refused to publish her story

Following is an op-ed that was submitted to major Maine newspapers from former State Representative Paula Sutton but refused. One of the papers told her they would not run it because they “were not there to verify” her version of the events.

Sutton has posted the op-ed to her personal Facebook page, where it generated a robust conversation and more than 110 shares.

Recently, a press release appeared in local media informing the public of an opportunity to talk with Sara Gideon, US Senate candidate , at the Spruce Head Community Center.  It stated that Ms.Gideon wanted to meet Midcoast residents and answer questions.  I decided to attend and listen.

Upon entry, however, Gideon’s gatekeepers quizzed me. They pressured me to make a campaign donation. I explained that I was a local property owner and taxpayer; I was there to listen and learn. Gideon’s staff continued to push me and asked for a donation again. I hesitated, but finally offered a small cash donation, which was refused.

A former colleague of mine, the former State Representative from Thomaston and event organizer, greeted me. Then he insisted the event was invitation only and I inquired “are you asking me to leave” and he answered yes.  I had some curious friends in the audience who were also attending without invitations. Not wanting create a conflict, I left.

Since I had carpooled with a friend, I waited in the parking lot.

If Sara Gideon’s campaign is truly “people focused” why was her ”conversation with voters” pushing so hard for donations? Why was political affiliation a pre-requisite to enter a non-partisan event?  Does Ms. Gideon intend to only represent some Mainers and not others?

Thus far, Mainers have had limited opportunities to meet Sara and learn about her positions on issues.  Instead, she has prioritized high-dollar fundraisers and trips to California to bank roll her campaign over holding events in the state. Avoiding public events, screening curious voters, and refusing to answer basic policy questions from reporters are not signs of an open, transparent, or prepared campaign.

In a recent interview, Ms. Gideon responded, “You’re asking me questions that my six-week-old campaign self has not quite gotten to yet.”

A good representative welcomes opposing viewpoints, whether it’s at a community event, knocking doors, or talking to people at church, we have a responsibility to be accessible and welcoming to all of our constituents.

While Gideon refuses to meet Mainers and answers questions from the press, her allies in D.C. desperately try to sell a false narrative that Susan Collins is hiding. Instead of spending millions smearing a Senator who is constantly meeting Mainers around the state, maybe they should focus on making their candidate more accessible to the voters and prepared to answer serious questions.

Paula G. Sutton

Former State Representative, District 95

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