Paris Lawmaker Wants New Regs on Lawmaker, Lobbyist, Non-Profit Revolving Door


Unlike its twin in Georgia, Augusta, Maine doesn’t have a literal swamp. But an increasing number of Mainers are concerned it’s becoming a figurative one where the boundaries between lawmaker and lobbyist are too thin, and where non-profits which receive state funds and often advocate on policy issues have too little oversight.

In 2021, lobbyists in Augusta raked in $4 million in fees (in 2019 it was $4.5 million), according to disclosures. Many legislators become lobbyists almost immediately after completing their elected mandates, as do key staff and appointed officials.

“They are the ones who have been sticking around through the different legislatures, the different governors. As a result, they are the ones with the institutional knowledge,” then freshman Rep. Chris Kessler (D-Portland) told the Maine Beacon in 2021. “You have your legislators who are perennials like John Martin, or those who served for a long stretch, took a couple years off and then go back at it like Seth Berry. But I didn’t understand how much influence the lobbyists in Augusta actually have.”

Rep. John Andrews (R-South Paris) has introduced two bills that create a longer cooling-off period for lawmakers before they can lobby their former colleagues. At the federal level, that is usually at least one year, which is also the practice in Maine since 2013, though through his bill LD 521, Andrews seeks to expand that period.

“This bill prohibits a Legislator from being employed by a state agency or a nonprofit corporation that directly or indirectly receives state funds for a period of 4 years after the Legislator’s term ends,” Andrews said when testifying in support of his bill this week, adding: “For too long there has been a revolving door in Augusta where legislators receive well paying government jobs shortly after their term ends. This gives the appearance of reward for voting for or sponsoring legislation that benefits a state agency or the government as a whole.”

Another Andrews’ bill, LD 514, would have the state audit non-profits that receive public money, which surprisingly is not the current practice.

“Maine has a deep and vibrant non-profit sector. This is a good thing and they do a lot of good work.  However, it is concerning to me that the State of Maine allocates large portions of money to non-profit organizations with little to no oversight of these tax payer funds,” he stated in favor of his proposed audit requirement. “In some cases, we may not know if the money they receive gets used for what it is intended for, with no data it is extremely hard to gauge the success of programs being funded.” 

Without any metric of performance or efficiency, it is difficult for the state to determine whether taxpayers money is best spent on one non-profit or another, Andrews argued.

Andrews is not alone in seeking to put new curbs on the influence industry in Augusta. One bill now before the legislator would prohibit those who donate to a governor’s inauguration committee from lobbying the same administration.

Both Andrews’ bills now sit for consideration by the legislature’s Committee on State and Local Government, chaired by Sen. Tim Nagle (D-Cumberland) and Rep. Holly Stover (D-Boothbay).


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