Every election cycle, millions and millions of dollars are spent on campaigns. In Maine’s 2014 gubernatorial race, campaigns and outside groups spent more than $19 million.

Given how much money is spent in politics, Maine’s system of choosing the secretary of state, treasurer and attorney general best serves the people of Maine by avoiding the influence of lobbyists and outside money.

A bill introduced before the Legislature’s State and Local Government Committee, the policy panel on which we both serve, proposes a constitutional amendment that provides for direct popular election beginning in 2016 of our constitutional officers. This would subject the secretary of state, treasurer and attorney general to expensive statewide campaigns, adding millions to an elections system that is already seeing record spending.

The positions of attorney general, secretary of state and state treasurer are necessary to the well-being of our state, and they should be shielded from having to worry about paying for TV time while they run their departments.

We need our attorney general, secretary of state and treasurer doing their jobs, not spending 16 months of a 2-year term out on the campaign trail. If our constitutional officers were to run statewide campaigns, their independent judgement would be compromised by out-of-state contributors. We need their decision-making process to be grounded in law, not politically motivated.

If these became elected positions, serious conflicts of interest could occur. The secretary of state oversees elections. How can he or she both help facilitate the election process and run for office at the same time? The attorney general represents Maine and its agencies in civil actions. Wouldn’t there be concern if he or she were collecting money from donors while also weighing in on court decisions?

Our state treasurer provides state agencies with efficient banking and financial services, which include revenue collection, payment issuance, reconciliation and trust management. Should the treasurer also be collecting money for his or her campaign?

We strongly believe in transparency in government. If our constitutional officers remain free of outside influences, then our state government will remain just that, transparent.

After the 2014 election cycle, The New York Times did an investigative series that studied the impact of fundraising on attorney general offices around the nation. The series has noted that the pressure to raise campaign funds has had a detrimental impact on the independence of many top state prosecutors’ offices. The series even suggested that perhaps the office of the attorney general should not be subject to public election.

This is not the first time we have seen a bill like this. During the 125th Legislature, Republicans controlled the House and Senate and elected three Republicans to serve as constitutional officers. That session, a similar constitutional amendment was considered by the Legislature but did not pass. In fact it did not even muster a roll call vote in the House, where the majority “Ought Not to Pass” report was moved by the Republican committee chair. Five of the Republican sponsors of the current measure served in the Republican-controlled House at that time.

Our state motto is “I lead,” not “I follow.” Our constitutional officers are independent from politics and can clearly and effectively work for all Maine people. We should not try to fix a problem that does not exist.

Maine’s approach is the right one. It has served our state well for a long time and we should stick with it.

Rep. Roland “Danny” Martin, D-Sinclair, is House chair of the Legislature’s State and Local Government Committee. He is returning to the Maine House, having previously served one term in the House and two in the Senate. Rep. Jeffrey Evangelos, I-Friendship, is serving his second term in the Maine Legislature. He serves on the Legislature’s State and Local Government Committee.