While Maine has led the way in election reform with clean elections and ranked choice voting, we’re behind the times when it comes to corporations and campaign contributions. It’s time for Maine to join the 22 other states that ban direct contributions to candidates and to candidates’ political action committees (PACs).
In Maine, corporations can give money directly to candidates running for state office. They do this because they understand that policies created in Augusta can affect their bottom line. And they do this because they hope to influence legislators who put those policies in place. It’s that simple. And that potentially corrupting.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld that state’s corporate ban in 2018, stating, “Experience confirms that if corporate contributions were allowed, there would be a serious threat of quid pro quo corruption.” (Brennan Center for Justice, June 2019, “The Supreme Court nixes corporate contribution for 2020 campaign”)
Corporations have plenty of other ways to play a role in electoral politics beyond contributing directly to candidates. Through entities called “super PACs,” corporations can promote certain policy positions and candidates as long as there’s no direct coordination with a candidate’s campaign apparatus.
We’re in luck now because Sen. Louie Luchini of Hancock County has introduced a bill that would ban corporate contributions made directly to candidates. It’s past time for Maine to join states across the country and across the political spectrum and ban direct-to-candidate contributions from corporations.
Please ask your senator and representative to support Sen. Luchini’s bill and help restore democracy by and for the people.
Mary Ann Larson