Maine could regain nation’s most accountable elections
200 Mainers gathered in Augusta today to launch the “Yes on 1” campaign for the referendum election this November. At issue is a citizen’s initiative meant to ensure that politicians are more accountable to voters and less beholden to wealthy lobbies and corporations.
A successful outcome for the referendum would mean increased disclosure for political spending, tougher fines and penalties for candidates and political groups that break election laws, and a restoration of Maine’s first-in-the nation Clean Elections Act, which provides limited public financing for political campaigns.
“The largest fine that Maine has ever levied against a violator of our campaign finance laws was just 2.5 percent of what the violator spent illegally. That’s a better rate than my mortgage and it’s certainly not a deterrent from breaking the law,” said Marilyn Canavan, a former lawmaker and the former executive director of the Maine Commission of Government Ethics and Election Practices, speaking at the rally. “This referendum will allow the state to fine campaign finance violators up to 100 percent of what they spend illegally. It will send a clear message to out-of-state groups and special interests trying to skirt Maine campaign finance laws and buy our elections.”
The campaign launch also saw endorsements from more than 30 civic organizations from across the state, including the Maine Council of Churches, the Maine People’s Alliance, the NAACP, the Maine Small Business Coalition and union, environmental and women’s groups.
“We are pipefitters and teachers, small business owners and environmentalists, Democrats, Republicans, and independents. Mainers from all walks of life and all geographic regions are here today because we want a government that works for – and is accountable to – everyday voters and not one bought and paid for by wealthy special interests,” said Maine Citizens for Clean Elections (MCCE) Executive Director Andy Bossie.
“Small businesses. Everyday citizens. It is imperative that we work together to ensure that this initiative is passed. Let’s get the referee back on the court and tighten up the rules so that all Mainers can get into the game. No elbows, shoves, or big money allowed. What we want is transparency, accountability, and democracy. A government that is truly of, by, and for Maine people,” said Suzanne Kelly, a small business owner from Bangor.
More information on the policy that will appear on the ballot, including the history behind the Supreme Court ruling that dismantled parts of Maine’s Clean Elections law, can be found here.
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