AUGUSTA (AP) — The state’s publicly funded campaign finance system that was backed by Maine voters could run dry after lawmakers repeatedly took money from it for other initiatives.

The Portland Press Herald reports that Jonathan Wayne, executive director of Maine’s ethics commission, told the Legislature’s budget-writing committee Tuesday that lawmakers have taken nearly $12 million from the Maine Clean Election fund over the last 14 years.

The Legislature has repaid $5.6 million. But Wayne says the program designed to limit money’s influence on campaigns could run into cash problems this year.

More candidates are entering the program after a November referendum that increased the amount of money that could be available to campaigns.

Wayne’s comments came during a hearing on a bill to transfer $3 million into the program.

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