AUGUSTA – The Maine House of Representatives voted Wednesday to eliminate public matching funds for Clean Election Act candidates who get outspent by privately funded opponents.

The 74-64 vote fell along party lines, with Republicans in favor and Democrats opposed. Lawmakers took up the issue in response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that invalidated matching-funds provisions in states’ public campaign financing laws.

Maine Democrats wanted to preserve some way for publicly funded candidates to compete with private funding and special-interest donors, and said the House vote effectively guts the Clean Election system approved by Maine voters in 1996.

The Maine Senate has also voted to strike the matching-funds provision.

One proposed alternative would have allowed candidates to receive additional public money if they could collect a certain number of $5 contributions from supporters.

“The Republicans are closing the door on the Clean Election system that was mandated by the voters to limit the influence of special interests,” said Rep. Mike Carey, D-Lewiston.


Republicans, meanwhile, argued that the state can no longer afford to pay for campaigns. The program is available to all legislative and gubernatorial candidates.

“I am quite certain that the intention of Maine voters was not to help politicians pay for campaign signs and negative TV and radio ads. That’s especially true during these tight financial times when the state is struggling to pay its bills,” said House Speaker Robert Nutting, R-Oakland.

MaineToday Media State House Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 620-7016 or at:


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