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Clean Elections Advocates Say Private Campaign Donations Have Dipped

Advocates for Maine’s public campaign finance program are touting what they say is a significant decrease in private donations to candidates vying for seats in the state Legislature.

Andrew Bossie with Maine Citizens for Clean Elections says the 22 percent dip in private donations correlates with increased participation in the state’s clean election program.

“Participation in Maine’s clean election program is up 62 percent. That’s 10 points higher than it was in the 2014 elections. And, Mainers can take heart that there’s less private money in our elections as a result of a strengthened Clean Elections law,” he says. “More disclosure and less money from wealthy special interests, that’s a good thing for voters.”

The drop in private donations is based on finance reports filed so far this year, compared to the same point in the 2014 election. The comparison does not include spending by outside groups that can spend unlimited amounts to influence an election.

In recent elections, outside spending has eclipsed that of individual campaign committees.

Last year voters approved a citizens initiative that bolstered the Clean Elections program. It made more money available to publicly financed candidates and increased disclosure on ads by outside groups.

Journalist Steve Mistler is Maine Public’s chief politics and government correspondent. He is based at the State House.