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Wheels in Motion for Campaign Finance: Question #1

The comment period is under way for the draft language for Question 1. Supporters who gathered in Concord last week say the goal is to hold lawmakers accountable to the people. Credit: Jeff Kirlin
The comment period is under way for the draft language for Question 1. Supporters who gathered in Concord last week say the goal is to hold lawmakers accountable to the people. Credit: Jeff Kirlin
August 3, 2015

AUGUSTA, Maine – The wheels are in motion for Maine voters to take a stand this fall on whether they want to change state law in favor of greater political campaign finance disclosure and more.

Andrew Bossie, executive director of Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, says Question 1 on the November ballot basically asks state voters if they want to put some teeth back into the state's campaign finance laws.

"First, it brings more transparency by requiring big money groups to disclose their top funders on political advertisements,” Bossie explains. “It also increases fines and penalties for those that violate our campaign finance laws."

The Secretary of State issued the draft language for Question 1 on Thursday. That also started a 30-day comment period for the public to provide feedback on the draft.

Bossie says Maine was the first state in the nation to create a system that provides full campaign funding for candidates for the state Legislature and governor. Regrettably, he says, recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings and votes by state lawmakers combined to weaken the state's campaign finance laws.

"In 2008, we had 85 percent of all sitting legislators use Clean Elections to fund the race,” he points out. “Today it's down to 52 percent, so that's definitely the wrong direction."

Bossie says the goal is to return to a government by and for the people, instead of the current system, which he says is simply too responsive to big money.

"People that can afford big campaign contributions or to hire high priced lobbyists get more sway in our elections, and that's not a democracy,” he maintains. “That's pretty much an auction."

To level the playing field, Bossie says Question 1 would allow publicly financed political candidates to qualify for additional funds under certain circumstances.


Mike Clifford, Public News Service - ME