YEO Policy Books 2015 Policy Book - Page 11

Clean Elections Initiative of Maine Origin: Maine Citizens for Clean Elections Campaign Link: Click here Summary: Last week, Maine voters passed a ballot initiative to update the state’s 19 year-old system of publicly financing campaigns. This newly enacted initiative will fix problems with Maine’s public financing system that were created by Citizens United and the 2011 Arizona Free Enterprise decision which have led to a dramatic decrease in the use of public funds for campaigns. Talking Points & Important Information: • Voting ensures that the public voice is included in the legislative process, both in choosing who has the power to represent as well as in checking, through referendum, when legislators are out of touch with constituents. However, when studies show that legislators do not equally value their voters rather that “[they are] three times more responsive to high-income constituents than middle-income constituents and [are] the least responsive to the needs of low-income constituents,” it is starkly evident that the current system undergo reform to diminish the role that corporate and monied interests play in our elections. • This voter backed initiative will enable candidates receiving public funds to compete better in the post-Citizens United era wherein public funding is more tightly restricted and independent spending is unlimited. Candidates participating in Maine’s public financing system will now be able to receive additional public funds when an independent group like a super PAC spends big in their election. The initiative will also increase transparency of independent spending by requiring groups to disclose their donors, including their top three donors on all advertising. Furthermore, penalties for violations will also increase. • As found by our affiliates at People For the American Way, “[p]olling consistently shows that the overwhelming majority of voters want to see elected officials work to lessen big money’s impact on our elections. In other words, Americans understand the problem but are hungry for solutions. Along with long-term fixes like pushing to amend the Constitution to overturn decisions like Citizens United, small donor public financing can be a way to put everyday Americans’ voices at the center of our political process, where they belong.” • For more information, click here and check out this resource guide. 2015 POLICY BOOK STATE LEVEL PAGE 11