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  • Advocates demand full implementation of Maine's Voter-Approved Clean Elections Law

    Maine Citizens for Clean Elections (MCCE) is calling on the administration to fully implement Maine’s new Clean Election law that was approved by voters in November of 2015. 

    The LePage administration is blocking the transfer of $1 million in additional funding that was a key part of the legislation, despite its having been approved with a double-digit margin.

     “Voters spoke loud and clear in November with a 10-point margin of victory. We want a strong and fully funded Clean Election law to keep our lawmakers accountable to us, everyday voters, not wealthy campaign donors. By refusing to transfer the funding, the administration is blatantly defying the will of Maine voters,” said Andrew Bossie, MCCE Executive Director and President of the fall ballot effort. 

    Prior to November’s referendum, Maine’s Clean Election Act was allocated $2 million in funding a year. Question 1 increased that funding to $3 million and made changes to allow Clean Election candidates to better compete with privately-financed candidates. By law, the additional $1 million in funding should have been transferred no later than Feb. 22, 2016. As of Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016, the money has yet to be transferred, and there are no signs from the controller or the governor’s office that they intend to respect the voice of Maine people and transfer the funds. 

    “By a wide margin Democrats, Republicans, Greens and independents want to reduce the role of money in politics. They want a strong and fully funded Clean Election law, timely transparency, and government accountability,” said Ed Youngblood, a former Republican State Senator from Brewer and MCCE board member. “This isn’t a partisan issue. This is a matter of respect for the rule of law as voters intended. The money should be transferred to the Clean Election Fund immediately. We can't ignore the result of the election just because we don't agree with the outcome. That’s why we have the citizen-initiative process.” 

    Candidates from all political parties are registering to run using the newly strengthened Clean Election system. As of Feb. 22, 74 percent of all registered candidates for state legislature have filed their intention to use Clean Elections to finance their 2016 races. This figure is up significantly from 2014 when 53 percent of candidates used Clean Elections, but not quite as high as 2008 when 81 percent of legislative candidates used Clean Elections. 

    The Maine Clean Election Act was originally passed by popular vote in 1996 and aims to reduce the influence of wealthy special interests, corporations and PACs on elected officials by allowing candidates to run using a public financing. To qualify, candidates must demonstrate local support by collecting small-dollar donations from voters within their own districts. Unlike privately financed candidates, Clean Election candidates are forbidden to raise money from special interests for their political ambitions. Maine voters enacted changes at the ballot this fall to restore Maine’s Clean Election law after the courts and legislature weakened it.

     “The voters have spoken; and now candidates from all parties are signing up in large numbers to use our improved, voter-centered Clean Election law, which will elevate the voice of everyday people in our elections. It’s time for Gov. LePage to listen by ensuring that the new system is fully funded,” said Bossie.

  • September 19th was Day of Action for strengthening Maine's Clean Election system

    Hundreds of Mainers from across the state took to the streets September 19, 2015, knocking on doors and talking to friends, neighbors and community members about Question 1, which will appear on the statewide ballot on November 3.

    “Mainers agree that we want a government that works for us, not one that works for lobbyists and wealthy campaign contributors,” said Andrew Bossie of Mainers for Accountable Elections. “Question 1 is about ensuring our elections are focused on everyday people and less dependent on wealthy special interest. This effort of, by, and for the people will increase transparency and accountability by limiting the influence of wealthy special interests in our elections and government.”

    Their work was part of an “Of, By and For the People Day of Action” planned by Mainers for Accountable Elections, the nonpartisan, grassroots coalition formed in support of Question 1. 

    “This is a grassroots, people powered campaign,” said Bossie. “It’s not about the 1 percent or the 99 percent, it’s about the 100 percent. It’s about a government that works for all of us. Question 1 will raise the voices of everyday Mainers in our democracy and that’s why Democrats, Republicans, Greens and independents are working together to vote ‘yes’ on Question 1 on November 3.” 

    For today’s day of action, volunteers gathered at staging locations in Sanford, Biddeford, Portland, Augusta, Belfast, Bangor, Ellsworth and Bar Harbor. They then hit the streets to canvass in support of Question 1, which has developed a strong coalition of support from Democrats, Republicans, Greens, independents and more than 40 grassroots organizations throughout Maine.  

    If passed on November 3, Question 1 will:

    • Increase transparency and disclosure by requiring special interest groups to list their top three donors on all political ads so voters know right away who is trying to influence their vote.

    • Increase accountability by toughening penalties and fines for candidates and special interest groups that break our campaign finance laws so politicians are accountable to the people – not wealthy special interests.

    • Encourage strict spending and contribution limits by strengthening Maine's Clean Election system so candidates aren’t beholden to special interests and big money donors.