Maine rally seeks campaign spending oversight

7:28 PM, Jan 22, 2013   |    comments
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AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Dozens of activists, armed with thousands of signatures, called for more government regulation over campaign spending at a Maine State House rally Tuesday.

Maine Citizens for Clean Elections organized the rally, and collected 11,000 signatures in support of a resolution to endorse a new campaign finance Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Democratic Senator Geoff Gratwick, of District 32 in Bangor and Hermon, introduced the resolution due to concerns about outside money impacting elections.

If passed, Maine would become the 12th state to endorse an Amendment to regulate state and federal campaign spending.

The rally comes on the third anniversary of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, which gave corporations the same First Amendment rights as individual citizens, allowing them to spend as much as they want on elections.

Activists at the rally said now that corporations have more rights, it makes it more difficult for average Americans to run for office, and have their voices heard.

"The concept of free speech should never be based on what's in someone's bank account, afterall -- it is 'free' speech," said BJ McCollister, Program Director of Maine Citizens for Clean Elections.

MCCE Executive Director Andrew Bossie said the rally comes at a time when clean elections in Maine are under attack.

He said Gov. LePage's proposed biennial budget would cut $4 million for the Clean Elections Fund, which gives money for political candidates to run campaigns.

"[The cut] would essentially gut the program for 2014," said Bossie. "It's unacceptable, and Maine people will fight back."

But Gov. LePage's spokesperson said the Clean Elections fund is not a priority when making difficult budget decisions.

"We are taking the welfare away from politicians so we can allocate that to some of our most valued programs and protect our most vulnerable," said LePage spokesperon Adrienne Bennett.



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