AUGUSTA – State Sen. Justin Chenette, D-Saco, has introduced a package of bills to reduce the influence of lobbyists and help get money out of politics.
Chenette, who chairs the Government Oversight Committee and serves on the Senate Ethics Committee, unveiled the legislation to be brought before the Veterans & Legal Affairs Committee in the coming weeks.
“There is a revolving door of legislators becoming lobbyists which blurs the lines of who is fighting for the best interest of Maine people,” said Sen. Chenette. “No legislator should be taking money from the very corporations, industries, and special interests we regulate. These bills aim to make government more transparent and accountable.”
The legislation includes:
- Creation of a 4-year ban preventing former lawmakers from becoming lobbyists
- Ban legislators from accepting lobbyist contributions
- Ban legislators from operating political action committees, or PACs
- Close loophole on allowing PACs to be used for personal business
One of the bills is a direct response to former Sen. Andre Cushing, Assistant Majority Leader during the 128th legislature, who failed to disclose lending his business money from his PAC. While the failure to disclose is against campaign finance rules, the act of lending your business money from political contributions is not. This bill would ban that practice.
Chenette has been working on campaign finance reform issues since his legislative service began as a member of the House back in 2012. His co-sponsored legislation to ban Clean Election candidates from operating PACs became law during the 127th legislature.
“Unlimited amounts of money are being funneled through sitting lawmakers to PACs. It’s time we rein in any undue influence in this pay-for-play system weighing down good governance in Augusta,” said Sen. Chenette.
A public hearing for two of the bills is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 30 at 10 a.m. in State House Room 437. The bills are LD 54, “An Act To Limit the Influence of Lobbyists by Expanding the Prohibition on Accepting Political Contributions" and 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.”