We write on behalf of our colleague Rep. Jeff Evangelos. As a Democrat, a Republican and an unenrolled lawmaker, we don’t always see eye to eye. But last session, there was one bill we all agreed was of the utmost importance, and that was L.D. 194, An Act To Prohibit Contributions, Expenditures and Participation by Foreign Government-owned Entities To Influence Referenda.

The bill initially received broad bipartisan support, but unfortunately, it fell prey to a veto by just one vote after an extensive lobbying effort by foreign-owned businesses looking to protect their bottom line from the will of Maine voters.

As a result, Mainers just endured $24 million in ads, funded by the taxpayers of another country. This interference occurred legally, even though the very same company is strictly prohibited from influencing candidate elections.

We agree that it’s wrong that referendums directly initiated by Maine voters aren’t safeguarded against foreign interference. If the people of Maine feel strongly enough about a matter to initiate a statewide vote, we ought to ensure that the process is safeguarded against foreign governments seeking to put the will of their voters ahead of ours.

Thankfully, this important matter didn’t die with L.D. 194. Our colleague Sen. Rick Bennett has taken out paperwork to initiate a statewide vote. The movement is called Protect Maine Elections, and it has volunteers all across the state collecting signatures today.

Referendums initiated by Mainers shouldn’t be subjected to big spending by foreign governments. We hope you will seek out a volunteer to sign today to support this important movement.

Charlotte Warren
Democratic state representative

Patrick Corey
Republican state representative

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