AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - This election season in Maine is shaping up to be one of the most expensive ever.

The group Maine Citizens For Clean Elections is predicting more than $26 Million in private money will be pumped into Maine campaigns. The announcement came on the 4th anniversary of the ruling by the US Supreme Court that prohibits the government from restricting political expenditures by outside interests. Critics say that opened the floodgates for outside money to pour into Maine elections.

"For the first time ever in the 2012 elections, outside groups spend more money to influence our elections than lawmakers and those running for office themselves", said Andrew Bossie, Executive Director of Maine Citizens For Clean Elections.

The group helped pass Maine's first in the nation Clean Election Law. Offering candidates public funding cuts down on special interests influencing the vote.Rulings by the US Supreme court have effectively weakened Maine's law. One that ruled the government can't restrict outside funding and another banning matching funds when clean election candidates are being out spent by their opponents.

This Spring the group will begin collecting signatures in an attempt to get a citizens initiative on the ballot that would increase funding and strengthen Maine's Clean Election Law.

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