Government is at its best when it is responsive to the people not special interests and lobbyists. However, the continued influx of dark money into politics from shady corporations and a handful of wealthy – often anonymous donors – is elevating the role of outside influence and shutting out the voice of hardworking people. It’s not right, and it’s why I have consistently fought for a more transparent, accountable, and ethical political system.
Hello, this is Senator Justin Chenette of Saco. Thank you for tuning in.
In Maine, we have public campaign finance system that sets our state apart from the rest of the country. It allows Maine people from all walks of life run for political office and serve in a citizens’ legislature, not just those with means or connections. Mainers from all corners of the state give $5 to candidates for office, and in return, candidates promise to not take a dime from special interests and the wealthy elite. It ultimately represents a partnership of sorts between a candidate and the voters.
What works about the two-decades-old program is that it reduces the influence of big money in government, provides an opportunity for qualified Maine people from all walks of life to run for state office, and increases public access to information. It creates trust, encourages participation in our electoral system, and enhances the accountability of elected officials to their constituents. That’s why they voted for it not once but twice at the ballot box.
Unfortunately, a group of Republican lawmakers in the House of Representatives are sabotaging this important program by refusing to pass routine legislation to correct a typo in the budget. Let’s be clear – we have already provided funding for the program. The problem is, that these lawmakers are willing to go back on their word and disrupt state government using any means necessary.
Last year, after tense budget negotiations, lawmakers passed a compromise budget that included the necessary funding for the clean elections program. But, out as is common in a 700 plus page budget, there is bound to be some minor error – a comma missing, parentheses in the wrong place – which can have very real ramifications for how a law is interpreted.
It is why we typically pass an errors bill without any debate, controversy or fanfare to correct these typos. It’s not a big deal. It reinforces what the intent of the law is supposed to be. For some reason, House Republicans are using a typo to their advantage.
Maine’s Clean Elections system, voted on twice at the ballot box by Maine people, is about commitment to transparency and building public trust. Last year, we made a deal, and House Republicans ought to keep their word instead of exploiting misplaced parentheses to rig the election in favor of special interests and against Maine people.
I will continue fighting to get money out of politics until we truly have a government of, by and for the people.
This is Senator Justin Chenette, thank you for listening.
Rep. Justin Chenette
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