Despite mild political turbulence in Augusta early this session, a Republican State Senator has proposed a common sense reform of the state’s Clean Election system that members of both parties can get behind.
Ron Collins, R-York, has sponsored a bill that would disallow taxpayer money funding Clean Elections candidates from being used on post-election parties and events. LD 408, “An Act To Prohibit Taxpayer-funded Campaign Expenditures from Being Used on Post-election Parties,” was sent to the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee for consideration and a hearing was held on Monday regarding the legislation.
Under current law, candidates who qualify for Clean Election funds can use this money for parties and gatherings after a campaign is finished and the votes are tallied. Many campaigns hold events for their volunteers after the conclusion of an election, providing food, refreshments and other accommodations on the taxpayer’s dime.
An Associated Press review of campaign finance reports revealed that candidates spent more than $11,000 on food for volunteers and campaign events after the Nov. 8 election. Publicly-funded candidates accounted for 70 percent of those expenditures.
Collins submitted the proposal after learning that his opponent in the November election used roughly $500 for a post-election celebration, calling such expenditures an “abuse of the system,” and adding that “surely there is a better use for these funds.”
“There are differing opinions on the Clean Election system, itself, and whether taxpayer money should be used to fund political campaigns,” Collins said in a press release. “But I think we can all agree that hard-working Maine citizens shouldn’t have to pay for parties after the election. It is clearly an abuse of the system and it’s time to put a stop to it.”
The full text of LD 408 can be found here.