On Sunday evening I took part in an exciting panel discussion in Porter on the issue of public financing and money in politics. These are complicated topics, and ones that good people frequently disagree over. And as yesterday’s packed house evidenced, it’s an issue that many Mainers are thinking heavily about as we get ready to enter a gubernatorial election year.
Throughout our history the ACLU has fought to ensure that every voice has a chance to be heard, and yet the scale of spending on political campaigns has grown so much that individual voices are increasingly being drowned out. When I spoke yesterday, I stressed that the ACLU believes the appropriate civil liberties approach is to expand, not limit, the resources available for political advocacy, and that the response to concerns over the integrity of our election system must be consistent with our constitutional commitment to freedom of speech and association.
Public financing of campaign activity is a promising way to facilitate political participation, and it was exciting to discuss the issue yesterday evening with policymakers from across the state. We talked at length about the Maine Clean Elections Act and different efforts to improve and strengthen it in the years to come. Joining me on the panel were representatives from Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, Heritage Policy Center, and League of Women Voters, as well as three members of the Maine Legislature.
The ACLU of Maine will continue to explore constitutionally appropriate options to address the issue of money’s oversized influence in politics. It was comforting to be reminded this weekend that so many other organizations and individuals are doing the same, and we will keep you updated as we continue to tackle these issues in the months ahead.