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A clean elections advocacy group sues Portland for the second time

A fair elections group has filed a second lawsuit against the city of Portland over a proposed ballot question that would create a publicly-funded campaign finance system for local elections.

The latest lawsuit comes two years after the group Fair Elections Portland gathered more than 6,800 signatures on the referendum. But the city declined to add it to the ballot, saying that the issue would require a significant revision to a charter, and would need to go through a charter commission instead.

Fair Elections Portland sued the city over that decision. The Maine Supreme Court sent the case back to the Council this year and asked for a more substantial findings of fact behind the issue. which they finalized last month.

John Brautigam, a legal counsel for Fair Elections Portland, said he hopes the latest suit will force the city to allow residents to vote on the issue.

"We definitely are hoping that the city will realize that this is an important constitutional right of the voters, and it needs to go back on the ballot as requested," he said.

City spokesperson Jessica Grondin described the second lawsuit as unnecessary and a "regrettable waste of time" given that the city currently has a charter commission.

"And they're considering a number of different proposed changes. Including the proposal initiated by Fair Elections Portland," Grondin said. "So that is the process that's underway right now. And the voters will soon get to vote on that."