Coming soon from radio and TV outlets across the state of Maine: yet another aerial bombardment of campaign propaganda for yet another ballot initiative funded by wealthy out-of-state donors who think Mainers aren’t bright enough to manage their own affairs. Last year, it was anti-hunting zealots from away who wanted to dictate how Maine people manage our black bear population.
This year it’s out-of-state billionaires declaring their intention to keep money out of politics while creating an electoral environment that strongly favors the entrenched professional left.
Question 1 on the November ballot asks voters to dramatically expand welfare for politicians. It’s a liberal’s dream come true, and it’s being funded by the same overlapping, multilayered networks of out-of-state special interests that bankrolled the bear referendum. The carpetbaggers are fueling a campaign money machine that is geared up to burn through half a million dollars in the next few weeks to bamboozle the voters and force Maine taxpayers to fork over even more millions of dollars to pay for partisan political campaigns, from lawn signs littering intersections to annoying TV and radio ads to blizzards of junk mail dumped on voters.
Bear in mind that our Democrat-dominated Legislature just passed a two-year state budget that shoved elderly and disabled Mainers aside to keep welfare dollars flowing to undocumented and illegal immigrants, the so-called “new Mainers.” And now the same leftist ideologues who crafted that hideous budget are pushing Question 1, which would triple the amount of campaign cash — welfare — available to politicians with up to $6 million in additional General Fund spending, even while our rural nursing homes have been chronically underfunded to the point that several have closed their doors in the past few years.
The professional left in Maine wants welfare for politicians and welfare for illegals but gives the back of its hand to seriously disabled and elderly Maine people who are being denied access to needed in-home services. Why? Because the liberal ruling class in Maine has other, more important priorities than funding the notorious Medicaid waitlists, the legacy of Gov. John Baldacci’s eight years of one-party rule in Augusta.
And right now their top priority is expanding welfare for politicians.
All the usual suspects on the left, from union bosses to abortion and amnesty advocates to professional campaign consultants, are lined up to sing the praises of Question 1. They have a huge campaign war chest capable of drowning out their critics, and yet they claim that passage of Question 1 will reduce the influence of money in politics. Clearly, they have no shame and no sense of irony. And when they tell us that enactment will make our politics more transparent, the hypocrisy is almost palpable.
Follow the money.
The dark money trail winds its way from tax-exempt nonprofit corporations based in New York and Massachusetts to the Question 1 campaign committees in Maine. These out-of-state entities bundle and launder contributions from millionaire and billionaire donors who don’t want their names directly associated with the effort to expand welfare for politicians in Maine. For example, the left-wing progressive Proteus Piper Fund, based in Amherst, Massachusetts, has already ponied up a cool $200,000 for the campaign.
Among the wealthy individual donors who have directly contributed are financier Sean Eldridge of New York, who first dabbled in Maine politics with tens of thousands of dollars in contributions to the campaign to legalize same-sex marriage here in 2012. Eldridge has already chipped in $100,000 for the Question 1 campaign. He and his husband, the fabulously wealthy Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, have bankrolled liberal causes all over the Northeast.
Don’t think for a minute that these folks are the least bit interested in leveling the playing field or reducing the influence of money in Maine politics. They wouldn’t be funding Question 1 if it were a truly nonpartisan initiative to make campaign financing more transparent.
Maine voters should just say no to this cynical ballot question and send the Progressive Carpetbagger Express packing.
Vote no on Question 1. No more welfare for politicians.
Lawrence Lockman, R-Amherst, is serving his second term in the Maine House of Representatives (District 137) and serves as the ranking Republican on the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development (LCRED) Committee. He may be reached at email@example.com.