Another election year, another great reason to end the welfare for politicians that is Maine Clean Elections.
There are countless problems with the “clean” elections system – the matching funds portion is likely unconstitutional, fraud is a big problem, and waste has been rampant (see the Piglet Book excerpt below). And lest we forget, this is all done with your hard-earned tax dollars.
The most recent example of the Clean Elections catastrophe comes courtesy of state Rep. Cynthia Dill, a democrat from Cape Elizabeth. Dill is a lawyer that ran for Democratic leadership in the House minority.
Rep. Dill ran as a “clean” elections candidate and won her legislative race. As a “clean” elections candidate she qualified for $1,504 for a primary, $4,144 for the general election, and up to $8,288 in matching funds. Rep. Dill was excited to win her race, and apparently wanted to share with fellow Democrats some of her winning strategies. She did this online with the Google group “ME125Dems”.
Representative Dill bragged in this group about how she bought a Macbook pro (retails for about $2,000) to assist her with her campaign and will pay the Maine “clean” elections (AKA you, the taxpayer) back 40% of the cost of this item, and be able to keep it and use after the elections. This practice is astonishingly allowed under the crooked “clean” elections system.
Dill goes on to boast that she won despite the fact that she “didn’t knock on a single door”. Congratulations, Ms. Cape Elizabeth Lawyer – you successfully gamed the system to get a new Macbook pro on the taxpayers dime – and you didn’t even knock on their doors to thank them.
It’s time to get rid of “clean” elections.
Excerpt from the “2009 Maine Piglet Book”
Welfare for Politicians
For many years now, candidates for governor and state legislature have been given taxpayer funding for their campaigns though Maine’s “clean elections” program. Only one other state in the nation, Arizona, is foolish enough to have a taxpayer-funded system like this, and for good reason.
Maine’s publicly-funded system has cost taxpayers a lot of money. According to data from the Maine Ethics Commission, which oversees the program, nearly $17 million has been spent over the past five election cycles, including the $3.3 million that was spent on the 2002 gubernatorial race and the $6.8 million spent on the 2006 gubernatorial race. Legislative races, which occur every two years, typically cost the clean elections program $3 million. None of these figures includes the cost to the Ethics Commission of operating and policing the program.
Oversight is essential because, shockingly, when free government money is given away, fraud and abuse is not far behind, as is shown in the following:
- The state is still trying to collect $17,700 in fines it levied against a “campaign consultant” named Daniel Rogers, who, in 2006, “was paid to prepare 16,000 postcards for Julia St. James of Hartford, a self-described ‘stoner’ and ‘weed farmer’ who ran for the Maine Senate in District 14.” Rogers was fined for, among other things, fabricating “invoices for St. James’ campaign.”
- The Ethics Commission assessed fines against Washington County Senate candidate Dana Kadey, who, in 2006, used public funds to buy “$1,300 in camping equipment, a $464 infrared camera used by hunters and a roof rack for his truck.” Undaunted by his defeat, Kadey ran for the Senate again in 2008, received taxpayer funding for that race as well, and used it to buy, among other things, “a GPS device and a fiberglass truck cap with a different roof rack.”
- Former Lewiston legislator William Walcott was sentenced to six months in jail for misappropriating public funding during both his 2004 and 2006 legislative campaigns. He pleaded guilty to more than a dozen misdemeanor violations.
- Former legislator Peter Throumoulos was forced to spend 60 days in jail after it was revealed that he had forged signatures on the petitions he submitted to receive public funding for his legislative races in 2004 and 2006. His petitions contained the “names and signatures of dead people.”
- Casco Democrat Thomas Bossie was fined $2,750 because he “spent state funds inappropriately, failed to return unspent funds to the state on time, failed to accurately report expenditures and co-mingled state and personal funds” during his 2006 legislative campaign.