We generally think of clean legislative candidates as having spotless records, something earned. Conversely, Maine’s Clean Election law insists that upfront, taxpayer-provided money buys clean candidates. The best evidence of that concept is Question l on the pending fall ballot to add another million dollars to Maine’s Clean Election payout.

Question 1 supporters maintain the Clean Election program needs more tax money because of the Supreme Court’s ruling on a state law like Maine’s. The court decided the matching funds provision was unconstitutional when it allotted an increase in the clean candidates’ campaign funds whenever the “non-clean” opponent generated additional non-tax campaign money.

Promoters of Question 1 seemingly possess a sense of uppitiness when assessing mindsets of legislative candidates. In addition to senator sponsors of Question 1, Roger Katz, R-Augusta, and David Dutremble, D-Biddeford, 27 organizations recommend Question 1. Their vast memberships, numbering in the thousands, assert the meddlesomeness of out-of-state campaign millions entering Maine. What they see is assumedly unnoticed by our candidates. So then, how to open some eyes? Simply by dangling in-state tax funds to redirect a candidate’s visions homeward!

I was in the Maine Senate when the Clean Election Law passed, but I didn’t support it. I was an “unclean” candidate for three terms. In 2012, Maine taxpayers paid “clean” candidates more than $2.1 million in the primary and general elections. Where’s the evidence of cleanness?

Enactment of Question 1 means more moolah! Meanwhile, well-deserving nursing home staffs get short-changed wages and hundreds of caring hands at home pinch pennies.

The price tag is ever climbing. How about voting no on Question 1 and enacting a law requiring candidates to live by a bumper sticker they must affix to their cars: “My Constituents’ Agenda Leads; My Agenda Follows.”

Isn’t that the bottom line we seek?

John Benoit


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