Commentary

Desperate campaigns relying on deception

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Every election year Mainers can count on a handful of desperate political campaigns that rely on confusion and deception in attempts to get our vote.

Politicians running these campaigns know that many of us don’t pay close attention to every issue. We sometimes cast our votes based on our emotions and with minimal information – such as in the last two presidential elections.

This year in Maine we seem to have more than the usual number of misleading and blatantly deceptive campaigns. Two in particular come to mind.

Unfair bear campaign

The Humane Society’s “Mainers for fair bear hunting” or “Yes on 1” campaign is audacious in its dishonesty. Their signs, their TV ads and their slogans are confusing, contradictory and intentionally misleading.

Their television ads, for example, end with the slogan, “Restore Maine’s hunting tradition”- as if Maine once banned baiting, hounding and trapping. These harvesting methods have never been banned in Maine. In fact, these are some of the oldest methods of hunting bear and were all used by Native Americans.

Also, according to the Yes on 1 web site, Maine should follow Washington State’s example and ban these harvesting methods. They tell us that it resulted in “more black bears killed by hunters following the passage of the citizens’ initiative” – as if the Yes on 1 campaign was in favor of more bears being hunted and killed in Maine. The truth, as publicly stated by Wayne Pacelle, the leader of The Humane Society, is the exact opposite.

It is not surprising that Charity Navigator has recently placed the Humane Society of the United States on its “donor advisory” list.

Dems for welfare reform?

Perhaps even more disturbing are the Maine legislative Democrats’ campaigns touting welfare reform as one of their goals. Both in fliers and taxpayer-funded End-Of-Session mailers, Democrats are trying desperately to change the unpopular but accurate image of them as weak on welfare abuse and against welfare reform.

An EOS mailer from my State Senator said, “the Senate passed a bill preventing TANF money from being spent on alcohol, strip clubs, and gambling. Unfortunately, not a single Republican voted to pass our bill.”  That statement is simply wrong. There’s more –

Fliers in several districts are saying [Your Democrat Senator] “has a real plan to stop waste, fraud and abuse in Maine” and “supported tough, compromise measures to limit welfare fraud and abuse.” They go on to imply that it is indeed Democrats and not Governor LePage who want to stop welfare abuse!

The truth is that five welfare reform bills were submitted in the last legislative session – all sponsored by Republicans, none by Democrats. These bills would have eliminated out-of-state spending with welfare money as well as using welfare for alcohol, tobacco products, bail, tattoos, body piercings, in casinos or strip joints and penalties for abuse were strict.

All but one were voted down by the majority Democrats. That one bill, LD 1822, however, was gutted and rewritten. The new Democrat amended version actually weakened the penalties for fraudulent use of welfare dollars. The first proven abuse would have resulted in nothing more than a written warning. Subsequent offenses resulted only in short term losses of benefits.

Democrats also included a study of the welfare abuse problem in the bill. And they included an “education program” for welfare recipients. This would have informed would-be abusers that spending money on drugs, alcohol, tattoos, adult entertainment, etc., are not the best use of welfare dollars. This is the Democrats’ version of “cracking down.”

This toothless new version of the original bill allowed Democrat candidates to do exactly what they are doing this election year – claiming they supported welfare reform legislation.

The bottom line, however, is that Maine Democrats prevented meaningful welfare reform and have no intention of truly addressing this very serious problem. Because of their inaction and obstruction, Maine welfare cash can still be legally spent all around the country and there are few restrictions on what can be purchased. Their campaigns are telling us the exact opposite.

How stupid do they think we are?

The bombardment of deceptive propaganda from the left this year is unprecedented. These are just two examples – look for more and you’ll find them. Not everyone is falling prey, however. Recently at a coffee shop in Damariscotta, a patron pulled out one of the above mentioned Democrat mailers he had received, read aloud from it to his friends and asked, “How stupid do they think we are?”  I’ll let you answer that question.

A version of this column appeared in the Portland Press Herald

About Jonathan McKane

Jonathan McKane is an electrician and real estate agent who has served four terms in the Maine House of Representatives from 2004 to 2012, 3 terms on the Insurance and Financial Services Committee as well as the Marine Resources Committee and as Chair of the Joint Select Committee on Regulatory Fairness and Reform.

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