Small business owners back clean elections referendum

Small business owners back clean elections referendum

Small business owners affiliated with the Maine Small Business Coalition gathered in Lewiston today to announce their formal endorsement of a “Yes” vote on Question 1, the citizens’ initiative on the ballot this November to strengthen Maine’s campaign disclosure and public financing laws.

“Like so many other people, I am frustrated by the massive amounts of money being spent to influence elections in Maine and across the country,” said Bettyann Sheats, owner of Finishing Touches Shower Doors in Auburn. “For small businesses like mine to compete effectively, we need equal access to our government. We need politicians who are working for us and all the people of Maine – not their wealthy campaign contributors.”

At the press conference at Kimball Street Studios, a custom framing business in Lewiston, speakers also touted the results of a national public opinion poll conducted by Small Business Majority showing 85% of small business owners in support a campaign finance system, like Maine’s landmark Clean Election system, that uses only small contributions from voters and a limited amount of public funds. Question 1 would repair and strenghthen that system, which was weakened by a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision defining campaign spending as protected speech.

“Because everyday people and small business owners like me can’t write massive campaign checks or hire high-priced lobbyists, our voice is being ignored. It’s frustrating, it’s discouraging and, quite frankly, it’s hurting our democracy. That’s why Question 1 is so important. It will make it so that everyone – not just the wealthy – can have a voice in our democracy,” said Kevin Callahan, owner of Kimball Street Studios.

Question 1 would implement tougher disclosure requirements in Maine elections, including mandating that third-party groups list their top three donors on political ads. It would also increase penalties and fines for violations of state campaign finance laws and provide a limited amount of public financing to candidates that agree to spending restrictions and are able to demonstrate broad public support through small contributions.

The Yes on 1 campaign, which launched its first TV ad last week, has yet to see any organized opposition. More information on the initiative is available at www.accountableelections.org.

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