Citizens' Initiative

Question 1 is bought and paid for by outside interests

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In case you haven’t heard, Question 1 on the November ballot will ask Maine voters if they want to implement Universal Home Care (UHC). If the initiative passes, it would be the largest tax increase in Maine history and hit Maine’s middle class with a marriage penalty. It would hurt small business, slow the growth of the economy, shrink our population and be yet another financial disincentive to live in Maine.

The problem with this question is that it is primarily funded by out of state special interests. Last week, the communications director for the Maine People’s Alliance (MPA), a proponent for this question, stated that the “financial supporters of Question 1 this year are groups representing caregivers, workers and seniors – and more than 3,500 Mainers who have given an average of $24,” to the campaign.

They went on to say that the opponents of Question 1 are “large donors, such as the Maine Association of Realtors and the Maine Bankers Association PAC, that profit from forcing seniors out of their homes due to a lack of home care” and called their willingness to spend money to defeat the initiative “absolutely disgusting.”

I’m not sure where to start on this, but I guess a good place is the beginning.

On Oct. 24, 2017, the Maine Secretary of State approved the MPA’s application to circulate petitions to get this question on the ballot. From the date they got the application approved until Dec. 19, 2017 (the day their first financial activity report was due), the MPA’s ballot question committee (BQC) responsible for gathering signatures to qualify for the ballot received two substantial contributions: One donation came from The Fairness Project Maine Political Action Committee for $25,000, and $200,000 from Open Society Policy Center.

What’s the problem? The Fairness Project Maine PAC, headquartered in Washington DC according to ethics reports, is almost solely funded by one of the biggest national union’s in the country: the Service Employees International Union. (Note: Out-of-state special interest.)

Open Society Policy Center’s $200,000 investment in the MPA BQC helped get the signature collection process started. Open Society Policy Center is the political arm of George Soros, the progressive billionaire who recently announced he will be moving Open Society’s world headquarters from Budapest, Hungary to Berlin, Germany.

Two things to note here: George Soros earns his money through primarily corporate investments, and his group is another out-of-state special interest.

On Dec. 29, 2017, the MPA BQC received a third sizeable out-of-state contribution from a special interest group, though this one is a little interesting. A group called the Center for Community Change Action opened a BQC in Maine to support Question 1, and received one contribution of $150,000 from …drum roll please…  George Soros’ Open Society Foundation.

They then took that $150,000 and gave it all to the MPA BQC on Dec. 29 to support the UHC initiative. This contribution to the MPA now looks like an in-state donation if you didn’t know any better.

So who is the Center for Community Change, you might ask? Another George Soros-funded group out of Washington DC.

For those keeping score at home, the first three contributions that the Maine’s People Alliance received after their application was approved by the Secretary of State total a whopping $375,000 worth of Washington DC special interest money. This is what the MPA used to collect signatures for Question 1.

Once the Maine’s People Alliance got their “startup” money, then they were able to start soliciting small donations from the citizens of Maine — but notice none of these small contributions from real Maine people came until the MPAs operation was off the ground and running, thanks exclusively to outside special interests.

The statement that “financial supporters of Question 1 this year are groups representing caregivers, workers and seniors – and more than 3,500 Mainers who have given an average of $24,” sounds great.

But if you remove the political spin, look at their Maine Ethics Commission filings and a do a few Google searches, it reveals that this question on the ballot is financed by out-of-state special interests.

About Mike Quatrano

Mike Quatrano is the Director of Civic Engagement at the Maine Heritage Policy Center, overseeing MHPC's grassroots activist network and collaboration with the state legislature.

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