Our Maine elections are becoming national spectacles, and untraceable outside money is pouring in at an unprecedented rate. Each of us have different political affiliations, but as Maine state legislators in 2013, we came together to pass the Maine Resolution, a call for a federal constitutional amendment to close the money floodgates and allow Maine elections to be for Mainers, not outside special interests. So far, Congress has failed to act and we’re seeing the results.
This is just the beginning for 2020 and it’s going to get worse — much worse. New Hampshire saw a Senate race in 2016 with $130 million in spending, most of it outside money. Outside spending in Maine elections increased 574 percent from 2008 to 2012.
Protecting the integrity of our elections enjoys broad, cross-partisan support. Now we have to prove we mean it and make sure that 2020 is the last race where we see this enormously corrupting influence of money. Regardless of who wins in 2020 and goes to Washington, we need our representatives to work across partisan divides to pass a 28th Amendment to the US Constitution and return it to Maine for ratification.
So let’s Stand with Maine. From York to Aroostook County, a group of Mainers of all different perspectives, political views and walks of life are organizing to stand with Maine and say enough is enough: outside money is concerned not with the wellbeing of Mainers but the wellbeing of entrenched power and special interests, taking advantage of loose campaign finance laws.
The Stand with Maine campaign launches Jan. 22 in Brewer. It’s free, nonpartisan, and in a time where 75 percent of Americans feel they have no say over what goes on in D.C., a timely civic antidote to the political apathy too many Americans feel.
The Maine Resolution 2013 made our state a leader in the national effort to secure principles of equal rights and anti-corruption in the Constitution. As Mainers, we know the importance of free speech, and see the danger of a small minority of outside interests shouting over the collective voices of the majority of everyday Mainers.
Incessant TV advertisements and political mailers can be annoying, but they are nothing compared to the toll this special interest money can have on all of us. The connection between the opioid crisis and political corruption has been well documented — runaway spending and debt, loose conservation laws, special interest tax breaks, health care costs: the list of common sense solutions blocked by a broken system goes on.
We need action from our politicians, but Stand With Maine is not about politicians, it is for every Mainer: Maranda Cook, who grew up in the County and now leads Crown of Maine, a food distributor in Vassalboro, Harold Pachios, a Portland lawyer, Jim Gerritsen who owns and operates Wood Prairie Farm in Bridgewater, Amy Cartmell, a realtor in Freeport, and more are the everyday Mainers leading this charge.
Join us, and let’s protect Maine elections for Maine people.
Diane Russell of Portland is a former state representative. Ed Youngblood of Brewer and Dick Woodbury of Yarmouth are former state senators.