The State House glows in an evening fog in Augusta on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

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This spring, Maine legislators will consider a  bill prohibiting foreign government from spending in our elections. The bill also calls on Congress to give state legislatures the ability to regulate out-of-state political spending. The initiative started as a petition with over 67,000 valid signatures from Mainers. I’m calling on our representatives to pass the bill immediately.

For anyone living in Maine, it’s no surprise that political spending is out of control. Election season brings an onslaught of political ads, glossy flyers in the mail, and round-the-clock robocalls. This might be tolerable if the money was coming from Maine. However, in Maine’s 2020 Senate race, 93% of political donations came from out-of-state.

Out-of-state money is only part of the problem. Foreign governments are now spending millions to influence our elections by funneling the funds through “dark money” groups that are not required to disclose their donors. In Maine, however, foreign governments can spend unlimited money directly and openly on referendums — and it’s completely legal.

That’s because a loophole allows foreign governments to spend directly on Maine referendums. Millions of dollars were poured into Maine elections in 2021 from foreign government entities. This common sense legislation would stop this interference and give Mainers more agency over our elections.

I’m calling on the Legislature and the governor to stand with Maine citizens and pass this bill outright. Given the widespread, bipartisan support it should be clear that we want an end to big money in our elections.

Chris Cayer