October 8, 2013

Maine Voices: High court may be poised to give rich even more sway over elections

McCutcheon v. FEC could further erode efforts in Maine and other states to give all voters a voice.


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about the authors

Nick Nyhart is president of Public Campaign, and Andrew Bossie is executive director of Maine Citizens for Clean Elections.


Maine’s campaign finance laws are based on a larger view of free speech. Here, the First Amendment means that voters hear diverse views and have a choice of candidates that is not limited to the wealthy or those who are willing to engage in a grueling and demeaning money chase. Much like the nation’s founders, Mainers value a marketplace of ideas that is open to all and dislike the idea of special influence for any elite group.

Roberts court rulings have already had a direct effect on Maine law, most notably in the Arizona case that overturned Clean Election matching funds. Matching funds allowed participating candidates to compete against well-funded opponents and respond to outside attacks. The loss of this component has still not been remedied by the lawmakers in Augusta.

If the court falls for McCutcheon’s self-interested arguments, Maine will lose its aggregate limit, too.

That is the wrong direction for Maine, and it will be even worse for the majority of states that don’t offer public financing as an alternative to the private-money system.

The stakes are high. To all who value a government that is truly of, by and for the people, McCutcheon matters.

Nick Nyhart is president of Public Campaign, and Andrew Bossie is executive director of Maine Citizens for Clean Elections.

— Special to the Press Herald

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