There is no doubt that Mainers aren’t going to agree on everything, but one thing we can all see eye-to-eye on is that government and politicians should be accountable to all of us — not just the ultra-wealthy and well-connected.
As we continue to hear and read news stories about undue influence from lobbyists, special interests and big campaign donors on politicians in Augusta and Washington, it’s clear that the political process is broken and it’s time for all of us to stand up and take action.
In 2014, about $4 billion was spent nationwide on political campaigns and experts are already predicting that in 2016 the presidential race alone could cost more than $5 billion. And, billionaires throughout the country who want to influence politicians and tilt the playing field in their favor are already pledging to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into politicians’ campaign coffers.
That’s why this November, Mainers have a referendum on the ballot that all us can be proud of.
It’s a referendum that will take a much-needed step toward truly putting the power of our democracy and our elections in the hands of the voters — not just big corporations and special interests — by reforming our campaign finance system and strengthening our campaign disclosure and transparency laws.
The reforms in this referendum are common sense. It will increase transparency by requiring outside groups spending big money in Maine elections to disclose their top three donors in all political ads.
It will make politicians and dark money organizations accountable to us by increasing fees and penalties for anyone who breaks our campaign finance and ethics laws so that everyone plays by the same rules.
And, it will make candidates less dependent on outside money by strengthening our clean elections system that has been weakened through misguided Supreme Court rulings and inaction by our elected leaders. This means that politicians will be working for us because when politicians depend on contributions from large corporations, lobbyists and special interest groups, let’s be real — they work for them.
Regardless of whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Green or independent, I think you can agree that we deserve a government of, by and for the people — not government bought and paid for by the wealthiest individuals and special interests. And we deserve disclosure and transparency in our elections.
Every election cycle we are inundated with more and more misleading attack ads on our TVs, radios and in our mailboxes from secret groups that are probably from out of state. Nobody knows who is paying for these misleading ads. This November’s referendum will change that by increasing disclosure requirements so we know where ads are coming from and hold people accountable when they break the law.
The campaign for this referendum is just getting under way and I for one am not going to sit on the sidelines and hope that it passes.
I’ve joined the grassroots coalition that’s come together in support of this initiative, “Mainers for Accountable Elections” (you can visit their website and join the campaign by visiting www.accountableelections.org), and I’m going to do my part to ensure its victory in November.
I urge my fellow Hancock County citizens to do the same because now is the time for Mainers from across this state to step in where Washington and Augusta have failed, standing up to special interests.
Together we can put control of elections back in the hands of the voters.