AUGUSTA — Legislation sponsored by Sen. Justin Chenette, D-Saco, to reduce the outside influence of money and lobbyists in politics was approved by the Maine Senate today in a party-line vote of 21-13.
“Lobbyists shouldn’t have a greater voice than our constituents. Under current law, money grants them undue access to our elected officials,” said Sen. Chenette. “This bill represents a comprehensive overhaul of our campaign finance system and strengthens the integrity of state government.”
LD 54 “An Act To Limit the Influence of Lobbyists by Expanding the Prohibition on Accepting Political Contributions,” would ban legislators, legislative candidates, the governor and gubernatorial candidates from accepting political contributions from lobbyists. It also would ban out-of-state lobbyist money from Maine’s political system. Candidate and elected official PACs, or political action committees, would also be banned from accepting lobbyist contributions. Currently, the only ban in place is for sitting officials while the legislature is in session. This bill expands the ban to be year-round.
The bill was endorsed by the Maine League of Women Voters, Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, and End Citizens United.
LD 54 bill is a part of Sen. Chenette’s campaign ethics 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,” and LD 256, “An Act To Ban the Use of Leadership Political Action Committees for Personal Profit.” Both of those bills have been signed into law by Gov. Janet Mills.
LD 54 faces further votes in the House and the Senate before heading to the governor’s desk.
Sen. Chenette is the Chair of the Governor Oversight Committee, a member of the Senate Ethics Committee, and Co-Chair of the Democracy Reform Caucus.