PORTLAND, Maine — Two-time gubernatorial candidate and wealthy environmental lawyer Eliot Cutler was arrested for possession of child pornography on Friday, two days after search warrants were executed on his two homes in Maine.
Cutler, 75, ran for governor twice as an independent and used his personal wealth to bankroll both campaigns.
He was charged with four counts of possession of sexually explicit material of a child under 12, Hancock County District Attorney Matthew J. Foster said. Each carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
The counts correspond with alleged crimes from December through March, and materials are still being reviewed.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if more charges were on the way,” Foster said.
Cutler’s defense attorney confirmed the arrest but declined further comment Friday. Cutler also declined comment this week.
The arrest for the felony charges was a shock in Maine, where Cutler is a well-known political figure.
Cutler battled to a close finish in the governor’s race in 2010, losing to Republican Paul LePage by less than 2 percentage points. Four years later, he came in a distant third place, behind LePage and Democrat Michael Michaud.
After running for governor, Cutler oversaw the establishment of a graduate business and law school program, called University of Maine Graduate & Professional Center, in Portland.
In Washington, Cutler served as an aide to the late Democratic U.S. Sen. Edmund Muskie and later as former President Jimmy Carter’s top adviser for environmental and energy issues.
Cutler went on to serve as an environmental attorney and helped found a law firm in Washington, D.C.
The Bangor native later returned to Maine and resided in Cape Elizabeth, where he owned a mansion that he later sold for more than $7.55 million to a nephew of former President George H.W. Bush.
On Wednesday, law enforcement officials searched his current homes, a large townhome on Pine Street in Portland’s West End and an 1850 farmhouse on the waterfront in Brooklin.
Cutler resigned the same day from the Lerner Foundation’s board of directors, leaving the nonprofit that helps rural students attend college “for personal reasons,” said Don Carpenter, executive director.
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