AUGUSTA — The Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee voted in opposition to LD 413 last week, a bill that would prohibit legislators from accepting donations from lobbyists, corporations and special interests.
The bill, “An Act to Limit the Influence of Lobbyists by Expanding the Prohibition on Accepting Political Contributions,” is sponsored by Sen. Justin Chenette, D-Saco.
State law currently prohibits legislators from accepting donations from lobbyists, lobbyist associate or their employers during the legislative session. Chenette’s bill would extend this prohibition to the entire year, effectively banning all lobbyist contributions.
“The average Mainer can’t afford to hire lobbyists to advocate on their behalf and they shouldn’t have to. I remain resolved to continue to make sure that Mainers get a government that works for them —not big corporations and special interests,” said Sen. Chenette. “While I am disappointed that the committee voted to keep the pay-for-play system in place, I look forward to debating this issue on the senate floor.”
Between 2014 and 2015, more than 400 companies hired 229 lobbyists and spent nearly $5 million to lobby state legislators. During his testimony, Chenette stressed the importance of undue influence of money in politics.
At the public hearing in late February, Executive Director of Maine Citizens for Clean Elections (MCCE) Andrew Bossie testified in support of the measure. He said that while lobbyists often “provide useful information,” there are times that what a lobbyist seeks comes at the expense of taxpayers or “worthy programs of interest”.
LD 413 will come before the full Legislature in the coming weeks.