Gov. LePage says public campaign financing like “giving your wife your checkbook”

Gov. LePage says public campaign financing like “giving your wife your checkbook”

At a town hall meeting in Auburn on Wednesday night, Governor Paul LePage once again lashed out against Question 1, a citizen initiative to increase election transparency and strengthen Maine’s Clean Elections Act.

“That’s like giving my wife my checkbook. I’m telling you, it’s giving your wife your checkbook,” said LePage.

LePage was referring to the part of the initiative strengthening Maine’s system of limited public financing. Candidates qualify for the program by collecting a number of small contributions from voters and agreeing to limit their spending.

Question 1, on the ballot this November, would allow candidates that are being heavily outspent by their opponents to re-qualify for additional public financing by collecting more small-dollar contributions. This provision would replace a part of the law that was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2011 and make it more feasible to run as a Clean Elections candidate.

“The governor’s attitude toward women, toward relationships and toward money are so dated as to be bizarre,” said Eliza Townsend, executive director of the Maine Women’s Lobby in response to the comment. “The Maine Women’s Lobby supports Question 1 because we know that a legislature made up of Mainers with a variety of backgrounds and experiences will make better decisions for all of us.”

Clean Elections has been particularly beneficial to women candidates. The number of women running and winning election increased significantly after passage of the original Clean Elections Act and a 2003 survey of candidates by the Maine Citizen Leadership Fund found that women were more likely than men to say that access to the public financing option was very important in their decision to run for office.

42% of female candidates surveyed said they would not have run for office without Clean Elections.

Photo and video via Andi Parkinson.

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