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Good-Government Groups: Bill Could Help Reduce Corporate Influence in Elections

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Tuesday, April 27, 2021   

AUGUSTA, Maine -- Good-government groups in Maine support a bill which would ban corporate contributions from going directly to state legislators or their campaign committees, a rule that's already in place in 22 other states and at the federal level in elections for Congress and for president.

John Brautigam, legal counsel and senior policy advisor for the League of Women Voters of Maine and Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, pointed out corporations are profit-driven, and sometimes use campaign contributions to curry favor with legislators and influence the policy agenda.

"We believe that it's important to ensure that the political process and our democracy are reserved to the voters, to the public, where they can have their say, not to be drowned out by money from corporate interests," Brautigam contended.

Brautigam noted the corporate form allows a very small number of people to control the flow of a huge amount of money, and he argued this type of reform is long overdue.

Brautigam noted industries with the most interest in public policy vary from state to state, but some stand out in Maine.

"Insurance and health-insurance industries, we've seen chemical manufacturers, we've seen mining interests, we've seen gambling interests," Brautigam outlined. "We've seen pharmaceutical, certainly all using campaign contributions to try to gain access to the policymaking process."

Brautigam asserted corporate influence in elections won't stop until lawmakers put a stop to it, although they only can go so far within the parameters of the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court ruling.

It resulted in corporations being able to spend unlimited amounts of money on elections, as long as they're not formally coordinating with a candidate.


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