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Eliot Cutler released from jail Saturday after posting $50,000 cash bail

 Eliot Cutler
Hancock County Jail
Eliot Cutler

Former independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler was arrested and charged Friday with four counts of possession of sexually explicit materials involving a child under age 12.

He was released from the Hancock County Jail on Saturday after posting $50,000 cash bail.

Cutler's arrest follows the execution of search warrants at his homes in Portland and Brooklin after a two-month investigation by Maine State Police. Cutler was arrested at his home in Brooklin late Friday afternoon.

Walt McKee, Cutler's attorney, would not elaborate on the charges, but confirmed that his client had been arrested and called the arrest a "complete surprise."

Cutler, 75, was an independent candidate for governor in 2010 and 2014, losing both times to Republican Gov. Paul LePage. Born in Bangor in 1946, Cutler got his first major exposure to politics while working for the late U.S. Edmund Muskie of Maine in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and was involved with drafting the landmark Clean Air Act.

Cutler would go on to work in the Office of Management and Budget within the administration of President Jimmy Carter, focusing on energy and environmental issues. Cutler later co-founded what would grow into one of the largest environmental law firms in the country before it was acquired by the international firm Akin Gump in 2000. He worked around the world but had a particular focus on China for many years.

Cutler and his wife eventually bought an oceanfront house in Cape Elizabeth and moved back to Maine. He was a relative unknown in state politics when he joined the 2010 race for governor as an independent.

Trailing in the polls for much of the campaign, Cutler surged past the Democratic candidate, Libby Mitchell, in the final weeks but was unable to beat LePage on Election Day. Cutler and many political observers believed he might have beaten LePage if so many Democrats hadn’t cast their ballots early for Mitchell. But many Democratic loyalists blamed Cutler for providing a pathway to the Blaine House for LePage — who would go on to serve eight years — by splitting the centrist and independent vote.

Cutler ran again for governor four years later but finished third behind LePage and the Democratic nominee, former U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud. He was active in national efforts to build momentum for candidates who eschewed party politics.

While he largely withdrew from Maine’s political scene following the 2014 race, Cutler remained active in philanthropic endeavors and worked for a time as the CEO of a graduate studies center for the University of Maine System in Portland.