A Virginia-based group that fights limits on donations to political campaigns is telling Maine officials to stop enforcing the state law that caps aggregate giving by individual donors.

In a letter to Republican Gov. Paul LePage, Democratic Attorney General Janet Mills and legislative leaders, the Center for Competitive Politics urged state officials to change, or not enforce, a state law that prevents individual donors from spending more than $25,000 on candidate committees in any election cycle.

The law does not apply to donations to campaigns; those limits vary depending on the office sought. But it does prevent individual donors from spending more than $25,000 in an election by giving to a several campaigns.

In early April, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the $123,200 aggregate limit in federal campaigns. The ruling in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission has raised questions about the legality of states’ aggregate limits. After the ruling, several states announced that they would remove their laws on aggregate caps or stop enforcement.

David Keating, president of the Center for Competitive Politics, is urging Maine officials to do the same or face a potential lawsuit, which the group says it would argue pro bono.

“CCP has provided pro bono representation in similar situations, and would strongly consider doing so here as well,” said the letter to state officials. “Such legal action would cost the state money defending the case, and would distract the Attorney General’s office from other important legal work. Additionally, if the state chooses to defend the law in court, it is probable that the state will have to pay substantial legal fees to successful plaintiffs.”


In a press statement, the group said it has sent letters to 17 other states and the District of Columbia requesting changes to their campaign finance laws.

Jonathan Wayne, director of the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices, told Portland Press Herald in early April that his agency was reviewing potential legislation to make Maine law conform with the court ruling. Wayne said Tuesday that the commission was consulting with the Attorney General’s Office, and that the issue could be reviewed during the commission’s next meeting.

Wayne said in early April that he was unaware of any individual donor reaching the $25,000 aggregate limit over the past 11 years. In the past, wealthy donors have given to political action committees and party committees, neither of which are subject to spending limits.

An analysis by the National Institute on Money in State Politics showed that nine donors in two states, Arizona and Rhode Island, hit the aggregate limit in the 2012 election, representing a fraction of the 244,000 donors in the seven states with aggregate-limit laws.

BJ McCollister, program director for Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, which promotes campaign finance reform and supports the state law that provides public funds for qualifying candidates, said the Center for Competitive Politics’ letter dovetails with the group’s effort to roll back “common-sense campaign finance limits.”

McCollister noted that the letter was sent 24 hours before independent U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine was set to hold a congressional hearing on adding transparency requirements for campaign donations.

Steve Mistler can be contacted at 791-6345 or at:


Twitter: @stevemistler

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