Strengthening Maine’s Clean Election’s System

Strengthening Maine’s Clean Election’s System


Maine People’s Alliance supports the full implementation of the citizen initiative led by Maine Citizen’s for Clean Elections to strengthen the Clean Election Act by—among other things—including a re-qualifying option.  This year, the Ethics Commission introduced LD 1579 to restore funds the legislature raided from Maine’s Clean Election system.  Those resources are essential to implementing the will of the people’s reforms passed by ballot measure.  The bill was passed by the Republican-controlled Senate and Democrat-controlled House, but was vetoed by Governor LePage.  The legislature was not able to override that veto.


For more information about the legislation, see this op ed from Republican lawmakers who have used and continue to support the Clean Elections program:


The reforms passed in 2015 included the following provisions:

  1. Strengthen the Maine Clean Election Act: The bill includes an optional system of supplemental funding to replace the matching funds that were struck down by the courts. Clean Election candidates will be able to remain competitive in high-spending races by collecting additional $5 qualifying contributions, thus qualifying for supplemental funds. Supplemental funds will be available in state house, state senate, and gubernatorial races.

  2. Close Corporate Tax Loophole: The bill requires the legislature to fund the Clean Election program by closing one or more corporate tax loopholes to generate $3 million or more in revenue annually. The tax loopholes to be closed must come from the “tax expenditures” in current law consisting of “special exclusions, exemptions, deductions, credits, preferential rates or deferral of tax liability.” The legislation puts a priority on reducing low-performing, unaccountable tax expenditures or those with little economic development benefit.

  3. Require Disclaimer: The bill provides for mandatory disclaimers in certain political advertising. The disclaimers would prominently name the entity sponsoring the ad and would state the top three funding sources of that entity. If the entity does not accept funds from other sources, no additional disclaimer is required. The disclaimer would take the form of reasonably visible printed text on print, and direct mail advertising. An audio disclaimer would be required on radio advertising and both audio and textual disclaimers would be required on television advertising. Smaller disclaimers are allowed on radio or television advertisements of 30 seconds or less. It also increases the time period in which enhanced disclosure requirements apply.

  4. Require Gubernatorial Transition Disclosure: The bill closes another loophole by instituting a reporting system for raising and spending of money to finance the Governor- elect’s inauguration and transition into office.

  5. Raise Fines and Penalties for Campaign Finance Violations: The current fines and penalties structure has often been referred to by political insiders as “the cost of doing business.” This bill increases the baseline penalties for the late or incorrect filing of required reports. It will also allow the Commission on Governmental Ethics to impose enhanced penalties for violations occurring shortly before Election Day. Finally, the maximum penalties for late reports are increased especially where a large amount of financial activity is reported late.