This spring, Maine legislators have the opportunity to pass a bill prohibiting foreign government spending in Maine elections. The bill also calls on Congress to take action and give state legislatures the ability to regulate out-of-state political spending. The initiative started as a citizen’s referendum with over 80,000 Mainers signing the petition. I’m calling on our representatives to lead on this issue and pass the bill immediately.

For anyone living in Maine recently, it’s no surprise that political spending is out of control. Election season invariably brings an onslaught of political ads, glossy flyers in the mail, and round-the-clock robocalls. All of this might be tolerable if the money was coming from Maine citizens. However, in Maine’s 2020 Senate race, 93% of political donations came from out-of-state contributors.

Out-of-state money is only part of the problem. It’s well documented that foreign governments are spending millions of dollars to influence our elections. In 2020, over $1 billion in U.S. political spending came from dark money groups that are not required to disclose their donors. In Maine, however, foreign governments can spend unlimited money directly and openly on state referendums — and it’s completely legal.

That’s because a loophole in Maine’s campaign finance laws allows foreign governments to spend directly on ballot measures. Over $20 million was poured into Maine referendums in 2021 from foreign government-owned entities. This common-sense legislation would put a stop to this interference and give Mainers more agency over our elections.

I’m calling on the Legislature and the governor to stand up for Maine citizens and pass this bill outright. Given the widespread, bipartisan support for the initiative it should be clear that Mainers want an end to big money in our elections.

Chris Cayer


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