Commentary

Sierra Club Symbolic of Left’s Hypocrisy on Clean Elections

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Recently I received a candidate questionnaire from the Sierra Club, a left-leaning organization with interests in energy and environmental policy. When I sat down to fill it out, I couldn’t get past the first question.

“Q1: The Sierra Club believes that our nation’s strong democratic traditions are essential to protecting our environment from well-funded special interests. Do you support Maine’s Clean Election law, and its full funding and implementation? *”

I thought about that for a fleeting moment and simply wrote “no.” The little angel on my shoulder nudged at me and insisted that “no” was too blunt and could be considered rude, so I should offer an explanation.

My response explained how we have over a thousand of our most vulnerable citizens on waitlists for services. They struggle every day, they cannot take care of themselves, they can’t walk, they can’t talk and they can’t provide for themselves. I just don’t feel right taking from them to run a political campaign.

Then I thought about some of the wording in this first question – “our nation’s strong democratic traditions are essential to protecting our environment from well-funded special interests.” It seemed paradoxical that this was included considering the Sierra Club lobbies on behalf of their own interests and has an affiliated PAC that spent over $1 million on the 2014 elections, all of which was spent opposing Republican candidates for office.

“Clean Elections” has and always will be a misnomer. The current increase in this redistribution scheme to politicians was a classic example of a well-organized minority funded by out of state interests.

The No on 1 campaign raised $50 thousand dollars in less than five weeks from Maine citizens. The Yes on 1 campaign outspent their opposition at a 40 to 1 margin, with the vast majority of cash coming from a few very wealthy individuals from New York and Massachusetts.

The truth of the matter is that as long as there are independent expenditures, there will be no such thing as clean elections. Independent expenditures are a Constitutional right; however, there is something wrong with taking taxpayer dollars and independent expenditures simultaneously.

Clean Elections was sold as a bill of goods to make elections appear fair and to give the electorate some skin in the game. The aspiring politicians must collect $5.00 checks from a small number of constituents and voila, they are awarded a lump sum of hard earned taxpayer dollars to spend on campaigns.

The reality is that the taxpayer dollars presently being used to fund this program are a drop in the bucket in comparison to the independent expenditures made by special interest groups to purchase Maine elections.

I find it disingenuous that the Sierra Club indicates the need to protect us from special interest when they themselves are one of those well-funded special interests.

I would know, as I have been lambasted by many of the groups funded by the Sierra Club, and even earned the dubious distinction of being named to the “National Dirty Dozen” list for being one of three legislators who stood against junk science promoted by their organization. In particular, two other representatives and I stood against a BPA ban promoted by the Sierra Club–which was, as the FDA has now recognized, based on faulty science.

The Sierra Club and other self-proclaimed environmental groups make independent expenditures in the millions to shape the outcome of election, and their candidate questionnaire is the embodiment of political hypocrisy.

Eventually, I finished filling out the questionnaire, but I won’t hold my breath waiting for their check.

About Beth O'Connor

Representative O'Connor represents House District 5 including the towns of Berwick and North Berwick (part). She can be reached at (207) 289-9047.

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