2024 will be a consequential election and Mainers will cast their votes for elected officials up and down the ballot. Participation in elections is essential to a healthy republic. But decisions made by unelected judges over five decades have undermined voters’ influence in elections and injected large sums of unrestricted money into our state’s political system.

January marks the anniversary of two Supreme Court decisions that fundamentally changed voters’ relationship with elected officials and removed their ability to regulate campaign finance: Buckley v. Valeo (1976) and Citizens United (2010). These cases treated election spending as equivalent to protected speech, removing legislators’ and voters’ power to set their own limits.

Billions have been spent in the 14 years since Citizens United in local, state and federal elections. In the two decades prior to Citizens United, election-related spending added up to $750 million. Now, nearly $16 billion is expected to be spent in the 2024 cycle alone. Only very wealthy individuals, companies and foreign entities have the means to spend this much money. These sums are spent on advertising campaigns and organizations that engage in election activities to sway the outcome of races. There is a risk that candidates become beholden to super-wealthy donors and entities to gain and keep their political position. The corrosive impact of money in politics has damaged trust in government and the ability of voters to keep their elected leaders accountable.

The unlimited, unrestricted money pouring into elections is a reason so many people are angry and fed up with politics. It’s not surprising that voters feel unheard, ignored and left behind in a system that is bought and paid for by wealthy individuals. Many of us simply can’t compete in this pay-to-play politics.

If that isn’t enough of a danger, the Supreme Court has made it extremely difficult to disclose sources of that money. That has opened up loopholes for foreign entities to directly influence elections right here in our state.

Since 2020, foreign government-owned entities have injected more than $100 million into Maine referendum campaigns.


And while 86% of Mainers came out last year to vote yes on Question 2 to prevent foreign electioneering in the state, those foreign actors feel emboldened to challenge the will of the voters, and have sued the state to overturn the ban on foreign government contributions in our elections. Because of the court’s overreach in Buckley and Citizens United, permanent and impactful reforms supported by the voters are too often challenged in court. The court removed our ability to even control our own elections.

I served in the Navy, and I’m currently a volunteer organizer with Veterans for All Voters, an organization that deeply understands that we all have a collective duty to protect our ability to self-govern. When foreign actors can challenge the will of American voters – in Maine or in any state around the country – we have a responsibility to act. We must protect our elections from foreign interests and those who seek to disrupt our democracy.

Fortunately, there is a solution that our nation’s founders passed to us, and that is the ability to amend the Constitution. In addition to banning foreign government money in our elections, Question 2 also affirmed Maine’s support for an amendment to give states and Congress the power to set their own limits on political spending. The For Our Freedom Amendment would do just that. It gives power to states and Congress to set their own guardrails on campaign spending, just like we were able to do for nearly two centuries before the court took that away.

I think adopting the For Our Freedom Amendment is an important and urgent step to restore accountability with elected leaders and remove a significant – if not primary – cause of our broken political system. I urge all our leaders, especially Maine’s congressional delegation, to pledge their support for adopting this constitutional amendment.

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