Making Democracy Work

PAC Study 2007 - 2011

LWVME Study -- Money in Politics: PACs in Maine.

Description

In the summer of 2007, the League of Women Voters of Maine launched a study of "Money in Politics: PACs in Maine" aimed at helping the people of our State understand the role of political action committees in financing candidate elections. As part of this project, League members and leaders are exploring the underlying values and principles regarding campaign finance regulation and reform and the workings of candidate PACs.

This LWVME study focuses on Political Action Committees in order to understand how they're funded, how they influence candidate elections, and what changes, if any, should be proposed to limit the influence of private money on elected officials. PACs involved in ballot initiatives are not included as they present very different issues and deserve their own study.

We are reviewing PACs in the 2006 election to examine such questions as who gives to whom -- corporate contributions, out of state contributions, grassroots organizations, individual donors; who are the principal officers, decision makers and fundraisers for PACs; how is the money spent on candidate campaigns, independent expenditures, other spending; what factors influence an elected official's decision whether to form or join a PAC; is there an appearance of corruption when candidates or elected officials raise unregulated private money.

The Study Committee is issuing a series of briefing papers aimed at helping our members and others gain a better understanding of this complex issue. Briefing papers will cover such topics as the following:

  • the basics of candidate PACs
  • Maine state law & enforcement
  • history and Constitutional background
  • campaign year 2006 contributions & expenditures
  • experience of the candidates and the caucuses
  • the future of reform

LWVME PAC Briefing Papers

Briefing Paper #1, PAC Basics

Briefing Paper #2, Maine State Law and Enforcement

Briefing Paper #3, Brief History of Campaign Finance Reform in the United States

Briefing Paper #4, Candidate PACs: Follow the Money

Briefint Paper #5, Conclusion

Background

PAC Background Paper from Maine Citizens for Clean Elections

PACs in the News at MCCE

Writing Reform: A Guide to Drafting State & Local Campaign Finance Laws from the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law.

State of Maine Ethics Commission

2007 Report on the Maine Clean Election Act, Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices

State by State Comparison of PAC Contribution Limits

"The New Campaign Finance Sourcebook", Anthony Corrado, Thomas E. Mann, Daniel R. Ortiz, and Trevor Potter, Brookings Institution Press, 2005.

State Limits on Contributions to Candidates

Conclusion

At its meeting in December, 2011, the League of Women Voter of Maine State Board announced the conclusion of its important study on candidate PACs in Maine. Here's the motion that passed unanimously at that meeting, constituting the League's new state position on candidate PACs:

LWVME supports reform in the financing of state candidate PACs consistent with the LWVUS position on Campaign Finance Reform.

This means that LWVME supports measures to improve the financing candidate PACs in order to ensure the public's right to know, combat corruption and undue influence, enable candidates to compete more equitably for public office, and promote citizen participation in the political process. Applying these principles to PAC reform in Maine provides a basis for sound action in the changing constitutional context as the Supreme Court of the U.S. reshapes the landscape of permissible reform.

The LWVME State Board wished to thank all of those League members and others who contributed to this important study. The Board believes that the knowledge gained from this study together with the principles set forth in our new position on PAC reform provide a sound basis for future advocacy in this important area.