The Maine Citizens for Clean Elections (MCCE) reform initiative will be on the November 2015 ballot. To prepare citizens for that important vote, the initiative is being presented across the state at many small, important events called “Informational House Parties”.
On a recent Sunday, my wife, Daphne, and I hosted one of these parties at our Orland home. Fifteen people of all political affiliations attended to hear long-time Clean Elections advocate Ann Luther effectively present the case for the Initiative. Both Luther and house party guest former Republican State Senator Ed Youngblood of Brewer are members of the MCCE Board of Directors. Senator Youngblood offered the invaluable perspective of having served three terms in the State Senate.
The Initiative is Maine’s response to three U.S. Supreme Court decisions issued since 2010 that have trashed campaign finance statutes and ushered in unprecedented political spending by special interest groups.
The 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission (FEC) ruled that corporate funding of independent political spending could not be limited.
In 2011, McComish v. Bennett negated matching funds for publicly financed campaigns, a key component that allowed Maine Clean Elections candidates to compete with wealthy opponents.
Then, in 2014 McCutheon v. FEC took the lid off how much the biggest donors could contribute in each election cycle.
These rulings have given special interest groups backed financially by a few wealthy donors a huge, legal influence over the outcomes of our elections. And we know almost nothing as to who is paying for either issue or attack ads.
Details of the Clean Elections Initiative can be fully viewed at mainecleanelections.org/cleanelectionsinitiative. But in brief, it will strengthen clean elections, disclose dark money, increase fines and penalties for campaign finance law violations, and close wasteful corporate tax loopholes to fund Clean Elections.
The principles behind the Clean Election Initiative are simple — that government is of, by and for the people — just as Abraham Lincoln said.
Those principles are what the “House Parties” are all about.