Clean Elections

Lawmakers should scuttle a costly economic development initiative and use the savings to pay for Maine's public campaign finance program, according to the Maine Citizens for Clean Elections.

The group's acting director says doing so will fulfill a voter-backed directive to do away with ineffective tax giveaways and bolster the Clean Elections program.

AUGUSTA, Maine  - An advocacy group says a higher percentage of Maine candidates are using public funds to run for office.

Maine Citizens for Clean Elections said that 62 percent of candidates are campaigning with public funds, up from 53 percent in 2014.

The nonprofit examined candidates' financial reports and found that candidates have raised 22 percent less private money than at this point in 2014. The group also found that donors giving $50 or less made up less than 7.1 percent of all contributions so far in 2016.

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.

State officials are telling legislative candidates they’re cautiously optimistic that the public campaign finance system will have enough money to get through Election Day. They’ve known for months the program could run out of money, but an effort to keep the Clean Elections fund whole fell short during the legislative session.

Supporters of Maine’s Clean Elections system are urging Maine lawmakers to override Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of a bill that would provide half a million dollars to the program this year.

The program could run short of the money it needs to support legislative races, but the governor says the bill comes just after the approval of a ballot question last fall that added $2 million to the fund.

The Elections and Ethics Commission, which administers Maine’s Clean Elections, believes the program could run out of money this fall without an additional half a million dollars.

Last fall Maine voters approved an expansion of the state’s public campaign financing.

The measure also allocates more money to candidates, and lets them tap into additional funds beyond that basic allocation.

But the Clean Elections system is once again at the center of a partisan dispute.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Saying "No More IOU's," supporters of Maine's Clean Election Law are demanding that the Legislature return $1.7 million lawmakers withdrew from the Clean Election Fund last year.

In November, Maine voters approved - by a wide margin - an initiative to boost funding for publicly-financed political campaigns for governor and the Legislature from $2 million to $3 million a year.

House members in Augusta split along party lines over how to fund the expansion of the state’s clean elections program, which voters approved last fall.

The citizen-initiated proposal, which expands taxpayer funding in races for the Legislature and for governor, was approved at the ballot box in November, but left open where the additional $3 million needed to fund it would come from.

AUGUSTA, Maine  — The state's publicly funded campaign finance system that was backed by Maine voters could run dry after lawmakers repeatedly took money from it for other initiatives.

The Portland Press Herald reports that Jonathan Wayne, executive director of Maine's ethics commission, told the Legislature's budget-writing committee Tuesday that lawmakers have taken nearly $12 million from the Maine Clean Election fund over the last 14 years.

Maine Democrats Play Middleman Between Wealthy Clinton Donors And National Party

Jan 7, 2016

A Cuban-born sugar tycoon. A California-based registered foreign agent for the government of Sri Lanka. A Chicago billionaire.

All of them are recent large donors to the Maine Democratic Party via a complex fundraising scheme called the Hillary Victory Fund. The fund exploits recent court decisions and weakened campaign finance laws to maximize political contributions and funnel them to the Democratic National Committee.

A.J. Higgins / MPBN

AUGUSTA, Maine — In the wake of several high-profile court decisions, a ballot initiative here in Maine is expected to garner national attention.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Supporters of a referendum effort designed to increase accountability and transparency in Maine elections, and limit the influence of big money, say they've raised more than $430,000 during the latest recording period.

Andrew Bossie is executive director of the group "Maine Citizens for Clean Elections Action." He says Mainers will be asked if they want to restore Maine's Clean Elections Act so that elected officials remain accountable to voters and not campaign donors.

AUGUSTA, Maine - A Maine legislative committee has rejected a proposal to ask voters whether they want to repeal the state's Clean Election law.

The Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee voted 9-1 Wednesday against Republican Sen. Eric Brakey's bill.

Brakey wants to put a measure on the ballot this November to ask voters whether they want to repeal the public-financing elections law and use the money instead to support Maine schools.

AUGUSTA, Maine - The Maine Legislature has rejected a citizen initiated bill that would increase transparency in campaign finance reporting and expand public financing for candidates to better compete in elections.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Mainers will likely be asked to vote on a sweeping overhaul of the state's election laws, after more than 85,000 signatures were submitted to the Secretary of State on Wednesday.

The group Maine Citizens for Clean Elections wants a new mechanism for candidates that use public financing to get some additional funds to partially offset independent expenditures in campaigns. 

The group is also seeking greater disclosure of spending. Andrew Bossie is executive Director of the group.