AUGUSTA —A new law has gone into effect that increases the ethics and transparency of how legislators use political action committees (PACs).
Sen. Justin Chenette's bill LD 256, “An Act To Ban the Use of Leadership Political Action Committees for Personal Profit” passed the Senate and House of Representatives unanimously last year. The Governor signed the measure into law.
This law will prevent legislators and candidates from profiting off political contributions by using PACs to loan their private business money. It will also bar individuals from commingling personal and PAC funds to avoid possible misuse.
“Every single Democrat, Republican, and Independent spoke loud and clear that closing this campaign finance loophole is the right thing to do,” said Sen. Chenette. “Mainers deserve a political system that benefits the public good rather than coating the lines of insiders’ pockets.”
After a Republican legislative leader had to step down from his leadership role due to ethics issues in 2017, Sen. Chenette knew we needed to look deeper at legislative-led PACs. It turns out, at that time, it wasn’t illegal for a legislator to use a PAC, which can accept unlimited amounts of money, as a personal or business slush fund. This new law limits the likelihood of further abuses of PACs.
This law is a part of Sen. Chenette’s successful campaign finance reform package, which includes LD 76, “An Act To Strengthen the Integrity of the Legislature by Extending the Waiting Period before Legislators May Engage in Any Amount of Compensated Lobbying,” that became law with the Governor's signature and LD 54, “An Act To Limit the Influence of Lobbyists by Expanding the Prohibition on Accepting Political Contributions,” which has since become law without the Governor’s signature.
Sen. Chenette is Chair of the Government Oversight Committee and is a member of the Senate Ethics Committee.
AUGUSTA — Legislation sponsored by Sen. Justin Chenette to end the revolving door of lawmakers becoming lobbyists became law after Governor Janet Mills signed the measure.
LD 76, “An Act To Strengthen the Integrity of the Legislature,” bans legislators from any compensated lobbying for a full year after their legislative service ends.
The bill passed both the Senate and House of Representatives unanimously last year.
“We must limit the undue influence lobbyists have over our government, and nothing speaks to this issue more than lawmakers and lobbyists swapping roles,” says Sen. Chenette. “Closing this loophole ensures former lawmakers will have to follow transparency and ethics rules and hopefully discourage them from getting a lucrative lobbying gig so soon after they leave elected office.”
Current law had allowed former legislators to immediately become lobbyists at the conclusion of their legislative service as long as it’s less than 8 hours a month. LD 76 closed this loophole by requiring a full year waiting period before any compensated lobbying could take place. The AP ran a story highlighting the issue here.
Back in 2017, the Maine Ethics Commission voted to recommend a similar solution to bar all lobbying by former legislators in the first year after their tenure ends. This bill is modeled on their suggestion.
“Questions of fair access may be exacerbated when some lobbyists have easier access to lawmakers than others, especially for revolving door lobbyists — those former legislators or executive branch officials who leave the government to go into the private sector and work to influence their former colleagues,” said Ann Luther, Advocacy Chair of the Maine League of Women Voters, which endorsed the proposal.
This bill is part of larger campaign finance reform package from Sen. Chenette. LD 256, “An Act To Ensure Responsible Operation of Political Action Committees,” was signed into law by the governor, and LD 54, “An Act To Limit the Influence of Lobbyists by Expanding the Prohibition on Accepting Political Contributions,” has since become law without the Governor’s signature.
Sen. Chenette is Chair of the Governor Oversight Committee and is a member of the Senate Ethics Committee
AUGUSTA — Legislation sponsored by Sen. Justin Chenette, D-Saco, to reduce the outside influence of money in politics became law this weekend. LD 54, “An Act To Limit the Influence of Lobbyists by Expanding the Prohibition on Accepting Political Contributions,” puts restrictions on lobbyists using their money to influence electoral and policy outcomes.
“We have achieved another anti-corruption win,” said Sen. Chenette. “We are holding lobbyists more accountable now than ever before, and we’re preventing undue influence, to ensure we have a government that truly works for Maine people.”
AUGUSTA — The Legislative Council approved a bill from Sen. Justin Chenette, D-Saco, to improve existing campaign finance laws by clearly defining in statute what a caucus political action committee is (PAC) in statute.
Sen. Chenette worked with the staff at the Maine Ethics Commission to introduce LR 2667, “An Act To Define the Term ‘Caucus Political Action Committee’” after several years of the commission pushing for the change.
“You can’t regulate something that doesn’t exist in law,” said Sen. Chenette. “This builds on the success we had this past session around PAC reform to fix a discrepancy, prevent future ambiguity, and ensure transparency and ethical standards are met.”
SACO – Senator Justin Chenette has published a children’s coloring and activity book entitled, The Great Whoopie Pie Debate: How Your Idea Becomes Maine Law.
“The goal is to provide the next generation the tools necessary to understand how their own government works,” says Sen. Chenette, author of the book. “I wanted a fun and interactive way for kids to connect to the lessons being taught in the classroom on their path to become active and engaged citizens.”
Published by Bryson Taylor Publishing, the 32-page coloring book visually demonstrates how a law is made from start to finish with a real-life illustration of when Maine legislators debated the state dessert.
Included in the book is an educational activity section for children to solve puzzles, crosswords, and fill-in-the-blanks along with fun facts about the Pine Tree State.
This is Senator Chenette’s first book to be published. All proceeds from the book will benefit college scholarships for local high school students. For ordering information and behind the scenes video on the illustration process, visit www.WhoopiePie.org.
AUGUSTA — Sen. Justin Chenette, D-Saco, has been appointed to serve as Chair of the Marijuana Advisory Commission by Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash. The commission studies best practices to implement adult-use and medical cannabis laws, rules and programs in Maine and makes recommendations to the Legislature.
“It’s critical we continue to work diligently toward establishing an adult-use marketplace as supported by Maine voters, while ensuring that public health and safety is a top priority,” said. Sen. Chenette. “As we’ve seen with alcohol, there is always a need to be refining and improving regulations to ensure a responsible relationship between businesses, law enforcement and the public.”
AUGUSTA — Sen. Justin Chenette, D-Saco, has been appointed to serve on the Maine Climate Council’s coastal and marine working group by Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash. The working group will study and make recommendations regarding the effects of climate change on Maine’s coast and marine resources.
“Climate change is an existential threat to our entire way of life here in Maine,” said Sen. Chenette. “We must work to find sustainable solutions that will protect Maine’s beautiful coastline from rising sea levels, lobstering and fishing industries from warming waters, and our entire natural resources-based economy.”
AUGUSTA — Sen. Justin Chenette, D-Saco, has been appointed to serve on the National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) Redistricting and Elections Standing Committee by Sen. Pres. Troy Jackson, D-Allagash. The committee studies and advises on redistricting, election, and campaign finance laws across the country.
“Our democratic institutions have been under assault not only from political gerrymandering but also from election interference by foreign powers,” said Sen. Chenette. “This appointment is a reflection of my many years of advocacy in the Legislature to pass comprehensive democratic reforms, from strengthening ethics to expanding voting rights and access.”
Cierra Albert is the 2019 recipient of a leadership scholarship from the Chenette Scholarship Fund provided by Sen. Justin Chenette. She was selected for her service on campus and in the community. Cierra was a student representative on the local school board in addition to being class president for several years. She graduated from Old Orchard Beach High School in June and plans to attend St. John’s University in New York City to major in International Relations.
SACO – Senator Justin Chenette is headed to Harvard University this summer after being
awarded a full ride fellowship.
Chenette, who is serving his second term representing Saco, Old Orchard Beach, Hollis,
Limington, and Buxton in the Senate, will attend the Senior Executives in State & Local
Government program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government in July.
The 3-week intensive leadership development program is designed for all senior-level state and
local government officials. The goal is to hone skills and further the leadership potential of
accomplished individuals from across the United States.
“This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enhance my leadership, teambuilding, policy,
and communication skills from colleagues around the country,” says Sen. Chenette. “All the best
practices I learn at Harvard will be directly applied to my work in the legislature to better serve
our community and state.”
Rep. Justin Chenette
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