Federal judge strikes down matching funds provision of Maine Clean Elections Act
AUGUSTA, Maine: Judge George Singal of the United States District Court for the District of Maine struck down a provision of the Maine Clean Elections Act which mandated that matching public funds be made available to publicly funded candidates when their privately funded opponents receive additional funding. Singal's ruling was based on a June Supreme Court ruling which found a similar provision in Arizona to be unconstitutional. The suit was brought forth by Rep. Andre Cushing, III, who argued that the law violated his First Amendment rights to free speech. Cushing privately funded his successful 2008 and 2010 bids for the state legislature. His opponents, who were publicly funded, received extra public funds based on how much private money Cushing raised. Earlier this year, the Maine legislature ordered a review of the law in question. The state ethics commission will hold a public hearing to gather suggestions on how to remedy the bill.
Maine's matching funds provision had previously been challenged and upheld in federal district court and the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Maine voters approved Maine Campaign Finance Initiative, Question 3 in 1996. 80% of all Maine legislative candidates run with public funds.
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