Clean election bills discussed at the State house

Published: Feb. 27, 2023 at 9:41 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - A public hearing was held at the State House today on several clean election bills including one that aims to provide an ethical election of constitutional officers by restricting certain campaign contributions.

State Senator Matthew Harrington of Sanford is the sponsor of the bill.

He says it would prevent constitutional officers from making campaign contributions to a gubernatorial of legislative candidate unless that candidate appears on the ballot in the district where the constitutional officer is or will be eligible to vote on election day.

Harrington says since Maine’s constitutional officers are elected by the legislature, that makes them susceptible to quid pro quo scenarios.

Paul Lavin, a volunteer with Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, spoke neither for against the bill.

He says the bill should also consider including individuals who are running for the constitutional offices of attorney general, secretary of state, and state treasurer.

“We believe that candidates for constitutional office should campaign on the basis of their merits and vision for the office. We would not want to see those candidates try to build relationships with future legislators by using campaign contributions to win their support. However, our review of data from the 2020 and 2022 election cycles shows that constitutional officers gave very small number, a very small number of contributions, some of which would have been allowed under LD 567 since they were given to candidates that were running in the contributors district,” Lavin said.

Harrington says the constitutional officer positions are important, and the people of Maine deserve to know those candidates are selected on merit, not a political bank.