Earlier this month in the House, Rep. Chellie Pingree introduced the Accelerating Charitable Efforts (ACE) Act, which will undoubtedly have the effect of hurting the charitable giving environment that Maine depends on. Mainers are known for their generosity and charitable spirit – now is not the time to subject us to additional bureaucratic measures out of Washington, D.C.

My involvement with many civic and charitable organizations have reinforced that Mainers are deeply generous, and that spirit of generosity should be nurtured, not hamstrung. Many people like to do good work and not have their name publicly bantered about.

As recently as 2017, there were more than 360 private and community foundations with more than $3 billion held in assets and nearly $200 million given out all over the world. By introducing the ACE Act, which looks remarkably similar to the King-Grassley Senate bill that’s facing strong opposition, Rep. Pingree is running the risk of diminishing that important charitable giving.

The ACE Act also looks like an attempt to pierce the donor privacy shield, an important constitutional protection recognized by the United States Supreme Court for more than 60 years. Preventing anonymous charitable gifts and forcing the disclosure of donor information is potentially dangerous and will certainly chill charitable giving.

I strongly urge Rep. Pingree to reconsider her position on this important topic and invite her to sit down with the Maine charities that I routinely chat with throughout the course of my duties as county commissioner.

Andre Cushing
commissioner, Penobscot County

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