TMW Editorial: On human trafficking, Cain's leadership missing

emily cain
Sen. Emily Cain (D-Penobscot)

Six Democrats on the Legislative Council voted on Oct. 30 to block a bill that would help victims of human trafficking. If there is a single voice in Maine’s Democratic Party that could lead with reason, rather than partisanship, it’s that of Sen. Emily Cain (D-Penobscot). Yet she remains silent.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Amy Volk (R-Scarborough), would allow courts to vacate prostitution convictions for victims of human trafficking. It was developed with the help of the Polaris Project, a non-profit dedicated to fighting human trafficking, and is similar to laws in 14 other states. The practical effect of the bill would be to allow women convicted of prostitution as a result of their enslavement to move on with their lives.

Why was this simple, non-controversial bill killed? Democrats have given a few unsatisfactory reasons. Speaker of the House Mark W. Eves (D-North Berwick), who chairs the Executive Council, has said, through his staff, that the bill did not meet the strict criteria for emergency legislation in the 2nd session of a legislative term. If helping victims of human trafficking is not an emergency, Mr. Speaker, then what is?

Outside of the legislature, former Democratic lawmaker Ethan Strimling has blamed Rep. Volk for Democratic leadership’s decision. Volk, Strimling says, did not make the effort to reach out to Eves and Senate President Justin Alfond (D-Portland), and that is why they and every other Democrat on the council voted against a bill to help victims of human trafficking.

This is a classic example of blaming the victim. What’s more, it’s a prime example of the partisan sophistry one must engage in when justifying the increasingly inexplicable actions of the Alfond-Eves regime.

[RELATED: Bennett: Democrat Chairman should apologize for sexist “ignorant attack”…]

The real reason Alfond, Eves and the rest of the extremist liberal Democrats voted unanimously against allowing this bill to come before the Legislature is because its sponsor is a Republican woman. They voted against this bill because its sponsor is a Republican woman and for them, Republican’s cannot represent women. Maine Democratic Party Chairman Ben Grant’s sexist and offensive comments on the matter confirm this much. Allowing Volk’s bill to move forward would threaten their monopoly on issues that matter to women. It’s a sad commentary on the times, but without a better explanation from Eves and Alfond, what else explains their perplexing votes?

[RELATED: Liberal lawmakers refuse to explain vote against bill to help victims of human sex trade; main stream media ignores…]

Sen. Cain has shown a willingness to cross party lines to work on issues of importance to women. She did this with Republican Gov. Paul LePage, and their partnership produced legislation that will help stem the tide of domestic violence in Maine.

Now, Cain has an opportunity to rise above the partisan fray and join Rep. Volk in assuring this meaningful piece of legislation gets a proper and respectful hearing before the Legislature.

Yet she has been silent.

Cain’s silence is all the more befuddling considering that her primary opponent in the race for the Second Congressional District, Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook), joined Alfond and Eves in voting no. Why would she not take this opportunity to draw the distinction? One Democrat is so partisan he can’t lift a finger to help Maine women; the other has shown a willingness to cross party lines to do the right thing.

On Nov. 22, the Legislative Council will have another chance to do what is right. With or without Cain’s leadership, we hope they correct their mistake.


  1. “Strict criteria for emergency bills.” yea, Right! Guarantee they’ll let through Democrat bridge naming bills though. They didn’t let it through because she’s a Republican in a hotly contested seat and they didn’t want her to have anything positive to run on. It didn’t matter how good the bill was it wasn’t going to get through because it was hers and it might get her some press.

  2. I parted company with the Maine Advisory group to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights when several strong proponents of ‘human trafficking’ iattempted to document a ‘problem’ in Maine, and pressure from national groups to ‘get on board’ their band wagon—esp. the group, Shared Hope International, which gave Maine an “F” for failing to have adequate laws in place to address child sex trafficking.

    Who can oppose ‘Child Sex Trafficking’?

    So I searched for evidence and got innuendo, not facts of arrests, etc.

    What I did find was just the opposite.

    In 2006 there was a well funded working group on Human Trafficking organized out of the Attorney General’s office The final report stated:

    “Finally, while the Working Group is confident that cases of human trafficking have occurred in the State of Maine, the number of such cases is relatively few.

    The Working Group does not recommend enactment of this proposed legislation. It should be noted that a federal law already exists that deals substantially with the same issues that would have been addressed by the proposed state legislation. The International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (IMBRA, 8 USC #1375(a)(d)(2)) requires each international marriage broker to search the National Sex offender Public Registry or State Sex Offender Public Registry……: which essentially covers the area that was of concern to the Human Trafficking Task Force, the Working Group does not feel that further state legislation is needed.”

    So was new evidence of trafficking provided by the members of the Maine advisory group to the USOCR that would override the finding in 2006?

    Just some whispered and strongly felt OPINION, no facts, and these are privileged conversations, so let’s hear it. Nothing. Remember since 2006, we now a huge border presence complete with forts and extensive electronic surveillance on both sides of the border. So I find it in credible to believe that there is undetectable trafficking of foreign children across Maine borders.

    So we had a briefing organized by the Maryland State advisory body. No fingers pointed at Maine during this video conference and presentation; just at the role of the ‘pimp’ in seducing teen aged runaways into the sex trade. The pimps portrayed were all Black and from the Washington/Baltimore area.

    I may be wrong, but this was similar to one of the findings of the 2006 working group; in any case I suggested we focus on strengthening legislation dealing with pimps.

    The advisory group didn’t want to address this, and only wanted Maine to sign on to the national bandwagon.

    The result was I resigned and so did several others.

    MAINE WIRE and other activist groups would do well to examine the record on this issue and whether Maine has a “problem” and just what the root of the problem is before you start bashing Cain and other Democrats over what was once ‘their’ issue—-remember who ran Augusta in 2006!

    Maine is forever getting lobbied to ‘join’ somebodies ‘national’ movement because we are a cheap ‘yes’ that costs little to get when compared to large states.

    Love to believe child sex trafficking exists in Maine but as Gil Grissom (CSI) would say:

    “We look at each case objectively, without presupposition, regardless of race, color, creed, or bubblegum flavor”


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