Several recent articles and letters have criticized candidates for using Maine’s Clean Elections system. I wonder, would these people rather have campaigns financed by special interests and wealthy individuals?

Unfortunately, the governor and his followers seem to loath Clean Elections. They tried to starve the program this year by withholding funding, but the Superior Court ordered the funds released.

Clean Elections shouldn’t be a partisan issue. Maine voters passed the original Clean Elections law by referendum in 1996, and leaders from both major parties embraced the system. Since then, hundreds of Maine candidates have run “clean.”

It takes work. A House candidate who chooses to use the program must collect 60 signatures and 60 $5 contributions from people within the district. A Senate candidate must collect 175 signatures with accompanying $5 contributions.

A traditionally funded candidate could have her entire campaign bankrolled by one or two wealthy donors, while a Clean Elections candidate has to prove broad support.

The Clean Election money’s not huge, barely $10,000 for House candidates and $60,000 for Senate candidates. The candidate must not take any money from any other source, including her own bank account. The Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics keeps watch over this, requiring frequent financial reports to make sure the rules are followed.

The result? Maine enjoys the benefit of a citizen legislature made up of many regular working people; the Legislature truly reflect the constituents they represent.

In Lincoln County, Republican Dana Dow and Democrat Laura Fortman, the two candidates for Senate, are running under the Clean Elections system, as are all the Democratic Maine House candidates. Voters can feel confident that these candidates are beholden to no one except the residents of their district. That’s a good feeling to have during election season.

Barbara Burt

Boothbay Harbor


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