The Coastal Packet: Big money buying small Maine elections

Monday, June 27

Big money buying small Maine elections

Common Dreams

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law published a landmark report documenting how secret donations have corroded democracy at the state level, where it is "arguably most damaging."

"Mining companies secretly targeting a legislator who opposed permits. Food companies battling a ballot measure to add labeling requirements. Payday lenders supporting an attorney general who promised to shield them from regulation," writes Brennan Center president Michael Waldman, listing the ways that outside money has corrupted local politics.

According to the report, secret spending on the local level rose from 24 percent in 2006 to 71 percent in 2014. This is largely due to a new phenomenon the authors have dubbed "Gray Money," which is when "organizations, which are legally required to disclose their donors, route money through multiple layers of PACs to obscure its origin."

The first of its kind survey analyzed spender and contributor reports in six geographically and demographically diverse states, where sufficient data was available: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Maine, and Massachusetts. The sample represents approximately 20 percent of the nation's population.

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