Senate passes Sen. Maxmin bill to improve PAC finance laws

Thu, 06/10/2021 - 7:00pm

    AUGUSTA — The Senate approved a bill this week from Senator Chloe Maxmin, D-Nobleboro, to improve Maine’s laws regarding spending by political action committees. LD 1621, “An Act To Reform Payments to Legislators by Political Action Committees,” received unanimous, bipartisan support in the Senate.

    “The support of my colleagues in the Senate shows that, no matter what your party, we can all agree that we need to clean up our campaign finance laws,” said Sen. Maxmin. “Maine people deserve to know that their candidates and representatives in the government aren’t just looking to enrich themselves. This bill puts in place common-sense changes to close some remaining loopholes in our campaign finance rules.”

    LD 1621 would make changes to the laws governing payments to a legislator by a political action committee (PAC) if the legislator is a principal officer or treasurer of the PAC or is one of the people primarily responsible for raising contributions or making decisions for the PAC.

    Those changes include:

    The PAC may not compensate an immediate family member of the legislator for services provided to the PAC, or make payments to or compensate a business owned or operated by an immediate family member of the legislator.

    The PAC may not pay for or reimburse a legislator for any expenses that have been or will be reimbursed by the Legislature or any other source of payment or reimbursement.

    The PAC may not pay for or reimburse a legislator for costs of repairing or maintaining the Legislator’s vehicle or for accessories that are not necessary for the proper performance of the vehicle.

    A PAC or legislator violating these laws may be subject to a penalty of up to $500 or the amount of the unlawful payment or reimbursement, whichever is greater.

    “For years, I’ve fought to get big money out of local politics, and for years politicians have been able to use loose laws surrounding PACs to skirt around ethics regulations,” said Sen. Craig Hickman, D-Winthrop, a longtime advocate of campaign finance reform. “This bill sets the kind of reasonable spending limits that Mainers expect.”

    The bill faces further votes in the Legislature.