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.