The value of Clean Elections

Dear Editor:

State Rep. Larry Lockman objects to a $3 million-per-year Clean Election expenditure (July 19 Ellsworth American commentary), comparing this program to crack cocaine addiction. He mistakes the rate by a factor of two since the expenditure is for each two-year election cycle, and is therefore only $1.5 million per year.

Rep. Lockman does not mention that he voted in favor of a $45 million over 15 years, or $3 million per year, tax expenditure to benefit the more than $30 billion per year in revenues of General Dynamics Corp. (House roll call No. 538, March 27, 2018.)

Of these two state expenditures, which provides the better value to the people of Maine?

In the case of Clean Election spending, candidates who voluntarily accept restrictions on accepting any private (including corporate) donations are provided taxpayer-supplied, limited campaign funding, thereby helping to remove the incentive for them to work for anyone other than Maine’s citizens.

In the case of providing a benefit to General Dynamics, the arguments presented suggested it would help the company be more competitive, hire more workers and invest more in their corporate infrastructure in Maine. Unfortunately, simple arithmetic shows the improbability of any of these outcomes: $3 million in comparison to $30 billion makes only one-hundredth of 1 percent difference. This is similar to unrealistically expecting to influence a car purchase decision by reducing a $300 per month car payment by 3 cents.

Clean Elections, which Rep. Lockman opposes, provides much greater value to Maine citizens than the more than twice as expensive gift to General Dynamics that he supported.

Ralph Chapman is a Green Independent Maine state representative. He lives in Brooksville.

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