AUGUSTA  — Maine’s Clean Election system is losing its luster in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling outlawing so-called matching funds in publicly financed campaigns.

Figures from the state ethics commission show that 63 percent of Maine’s legislative candidates are drawing public funds through the Clean Election Act. That compares to 80 percent in the last election cycle and 85 percent in the previous one.

This will be the first general election since the court ruled that public funding systems cannot provide qualifying candidates with extra cash when their privately funded opponents outspend them.

One publicly funded re-election candidate, Republican Sen. Lois Snowe-Mello of Poland, explains the drop-off by saying some candidates are concerned that outside groups will launch negative attacks and there won’t be matching funds to counter them.

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