We’ve been alerting you about the pending repeal of the corporate contribution ban, LD 726, which could reopen the gates for big corporate money to flow directly to Maine candidates and legislators. More than 670 letters have been sent to your legislators. Thank you! Your activism is making a difference. Here’s where the bill stands.
As LD 726 has been making its way through the legislative process, it has had an amendment that keeps it from being as bad as it might have been. This bill recently had a Senate floor vote, with 29-5 voting to repeal the corporate contribution ban, and passed "under the hammer" (no rollcall vote) in the House. So what does this mean? It means the bill is closer to enactment, could soon head to the Governor's desk for her signature, and immediately repeal the corporate contribution ban. We especially want to thank the Senators who stood up for what's right and voted against LD 726: Rick Bennett, Ben Chipman, Nichole Grohoski, Cameron Reny, and Mike Tipping.
What happens now?
This looks like the end of the road, but far from it. The version of the bill passed by the Senate and House includes a new amendment that would enact the repeal as soon as possible and would require the Ethics Commission to develop legislation that would look a lot like our original bill. We could be looking at a corporate contribution ban 2.0 as soon as February 2024. This could not have happened without public outcry. We can't thank you enough for staying engaged and taking action.
We would have preferred to strengthen the ban that we already had in place, and not a full repeal, but this is a start. We have a path moving forward. We plan to watchdog the process in 2024 and ensure that Maine doesn't move backwards on campaign finance reform. We'll keep you updated for when it's time to push for the next version of the corporate contribution ban.
Thank you again to our community for taking action, thank you to the five Senators who voted against LD 726, and thank you to all the legislators who worked behind the scenes to find a compromise.
Bottomline: LD 1417 (our bill from the previous session) limited corporate contributions to candidates and leadership PACs. According to the Federal Election Commission, “A leadership PAC is a political committee that is directly or indirectly established, financed, maintained or controlled by a candidate or an individual holding a federal office.”
It can be a yucky thing for an individual to have who wants to spend money to influence our elections. More than a third of money raised by legislator-controlled PACs comes from corporate sources. Federal law and 22 other states prohibit corporate contributions to candidates. Maine was lagging behind until LD 1417 was put into place. Repealing the corporate contribution ban will undo this work and send Maine heading in the wrong direction.