Sen. Maxmin introduces bill to improve PAC finance laws

Fri, 05/07/2021 - 11:00am

    AUGUSTA — Senator Chloe Maxmin, D-Nobleboro, introduced a bill this week to improve Maine’s laws regarding spending by political action committees.

    LD 1621, “An Act To Reform Payments to Legislators by Political Action Committees,” was the subject of a public hearing before the Legislature’s Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs.

    “This bill joins other pieces of legislation this session to ensure that money, campaigns and politics have the cleanest relationship possible. I know that we all hear from our constituents about the need to get big money out of politics. We deserve free and fair elections. We also deserve to know that our elected legislators are not unfairly profiting or benefiting from doing the people’s work,” said Sen. Maxmin. “These are common-sense reforms that Maine voters deserve.”

    LD 1621 would make changes to the laws governing payments to a legislator by a political action committee (PAC) if the legislator is a principal officer or treasurer of the PAC or is one of the people primarily responsible for raising contributions or making decisions for the PAC.

    Those changes include:

    The PAC may not compensate an immediate family member of the legislator for services provided to the PAC, or make payments to or compensate a business owned or operated by an immediate family member of the legislator.

    The PAC may not pay for or reimburse a legislator for any expenses that have been or will be reimbursed by the Legislature or any other source of payment or reimbursement.

    The PAC may not pay for or reimburse a Legislator for costs of repairing or maintaining the Legislator's vehicle or for accessories that are not necessary for the proper performance of the vehicle.

    A PAC or legislator violating these laws may be subject to a penalty of up to $500 or the amount of the unlawful payment or reimbursement, whichever is greater.

    “For years, I’ve fought to get big money out of local politics, and for years politicians have been able to use loose laws surrounding PACs to skirt around ethics regulations,” said Sen. Craig Hickman, D-Winthrop, a longtime advocate of campaign finance reform. “This bill sets the kind of reasonable spending limits that Mainers expect.”

    “Senator Maxmin’s bill takes existing PAC laws and fine-tunes them to increase transparency, reduce opportunities for corruption and self-dealing, and increase accountability,” said John Brautigam, with Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, in testimony supporting the bill.

    The bill faces further action in committee.