Maine's Money in Politics Post-Session Report

Monday, August 7, 2023
Jen Lancaster

Each legislative session we focus on a number of bills relating to the Maine Clean Elections Act (MCEA) and other campaign finance reform. We fight big money in politics and advocate for transparency and fairness. After all, our government works for the people, not just moneyed interests.

So far we’ve testified on over a dozen bills and kept an eye on plenty others. Our network of folks took action by sending almost a thousand letters to their legislators. Thanks to public outcry, we have a path moving forward on LD 726. We can't thank you enough for staying engaged and holding your legislators accountable.

Here’s how we did in the current legislative session.



Bills worth celebrating. 

LD 1336Municipal Referendum Spending: This bill requires disclosure of ballot question expenditures over $5,000 in smaller municipalities, where no disclosure at all is currently required. We supported this one, and it’s a pretty big win. 



Not the preferred outcome, and we’ll keep an eye on the next steps.

LD 726Repealing our corporate contribution ban: This bill repeals our corporate contribution ban from 2021 and requires the Ethics Commission to develop similar legislation and submit a report by February 2024. We'll return in the new year to watchdog the process and ensure that a corporate contribution ban 2.0 passes in the Legislature.



And we’re happy about it.

LD 1466Defunding Maine Clean Elections: This bill would have eliminated $3,000,000 state funding for Clean Elections and instead use the funds to eliminate the waiting list for services for adults with intellectual disabilities or autism spectrum disorder. Under the guise of its “good” intentions, it was a brazen attempt to gut Clean Elections and a slap in the face to Maine voters.

LD 1698Reducing Donations to the Maine Clean Election Fund: This bill would have eliminated all private funding of Maine Clean Election Fund including, seed money, qualifying contributions, tax checkoff program, and voluntary contributions. Between this bill and LD 1466, Clean Elections would have been completely defunded.



And we’re sad about it.

LD 1610Protect Maine's Elections: LD 1610 would have stopped foreign government spending in Maine elections. It also called on Maine's congressional delegation to work for a constitutional amendment that would overturn Citizens United, the Supreme Court ruling that allows unrestricted spending by corporations on political campaigns. We supported this one. It received bipartisan support in both chambers but was vetoed by the Governor. Since the Legislature failed to override the Governor’s veto, the initiative will now appear on the ballot as Question 2 in November 2023. We encourage you to vote YES on Question 2, and you can volunteer for the cause by signing up here.



These bills will live to fight another day.

LD 1590Disclosure of Campaign Funding Sources: This bill includes new reporting requirements and penalties, including the true, original sources of contributions Maine PACs and ballot questions committees. This bill is crucial for the integrity of our democracy and the trust of the public in our political system. Mainers want to know who is spending money to influence our democracy. We support this bill.

LD 1966County Clean Elections: This would allow candidates running for county offices, like sheriffs and district attorneys, to participate in the Clean Elections program. Expanding Clean Elections to county races will ensure these important officials in our justice system won’t be influenced by their donors. We support this bill.



For over 20 years, MCCE has been watching the legislative budget process to ensure sufficient funding for the Maine Clean Election Act (MCEA) public funding program. We’re happy to announce that the state budget includes funding for the MCEA for the next two years.

Clean Elections is also kicking off in Portland for the November 2023 election cycle. This is a new, voluntary campaign funding system for candidates for local office. People running for public office now have the option to have their campaign financed by money from the city, as opposed to relying on private donations or using their own money.

This program will give the voters of Portland more opportunities to vote for candidates who aren’t influenced by big donors. You can check the Portland city website to see which candidates have taken out Clean Elections papers for the November 2023 election. You can also check the candidates’ websites and social media. Feel free to ask them how they are funding their campaigns!

With the new program in place, we encourage all candidates for mayor, city council, and school board to run Clean, and Portland voters to donate $5 qualifying contributions to candidates that you support. With strong participation from candidates and citizens, Clean Elections will make our city better and ensure all voters' voices matter!

Learn more at: