This examination of campaign records and fundraising techniques shows how Maine statehouse politicians have found creative ways ways to skirt the spirit of laws meant to limit the influence of special interests. How do they do it: by scheduling events on dates and times that don’t violate the letter of the law. They do it by choosing how they word an invitation, avoiding words that might get them in trouble, like “host,” and instead using a safe term like “featured guest.”
Seeking to reduce the instances of Mainers getting lead poisoning due to careless renovations, a lawmaker introduced a proposal March 7 to require EPA training and certification in lead-safe removal methods for contractors working on older buildings. Sen. Nathan Libby, a Democrat from Lewiston — which has the most severe lead paint problem in the state — introduced a bill to require EPA training and certification in lead-safe removal methods for at least one person on contracting crews that perform maintenance or renovation work on buildings built before 1978, when lead paint was still legal to use.
Saying he wanted to stop a practice that was “the closest thing to getting directly paid” by lobbyists, state Rep. Louis Luchini, D-Ellsworth, introduced a bill Feb. 27 to bar legislators from paying themselves, businesses they run and family members from political action committees (PACs) that they control.
A 2015 law that ended the public’s right to know about hazardous freight on Maine railways sidestepped normal legislative processes, ignored federal policies and overcame a gubernatorial veto. Now even the law’s sponsor agrees it needs to be changed. Continue Reading →
The Government Oversight Committee wants to know if “any particular demographic groups or regions of the state” are specifically targeted by the state lottery’s advertising, and “who has responsibility for overseeing those decisions.”
The Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability will also determine how winning a lottery prize may affect a person’s eligibility for public benefit programs. Continue Reading →
Reacting to an investigative series by the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, the legislature’s Government Oversight Committee has voted unanimously to fast-track a study of the Maine State Lottery. Panel members are keen to learn if the Lottery’s advertising strategy specifically targets Maine’s poor. Continue Reading →
Wealthy donors from across the country have sent nearly $100,000 to the Maine Democratic Party as part of a coordinated fundraising program called the Hillary Victory Fund. But not all of that money is staying in the state: 40 percent of it has already been transferred to the Democratic National Committee. Continue Reading →
Lawmakers from both parties on Wednesday called for a bipartisan effort to pass legislation implementing a ban on people on public assistance buying lottery tickets with taxpayer-funded benefits.
The call to action follows revelations this week by the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting that recipients of public assistance won $22.4 million in lottery prizes since 2010, including eight jackpots worth at least $500,000 apiece. The information was obtained through a public records request to the state Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Continue Reading →
Mainers on the state’s three major public assistance programs spent hundreds of millions on lottery tickets from 2010 to 2014 and won $22 million, according to a state analysis obtained by the Center through the public records law and an economist expert in state lotteries. Winning does not necessarily disqualify recipients from remaining on any of the programs (food stamps, aid to families and MaineCare). This is the fifth story in the series, “Lottery: Selling hope to the hopeless.” Continue Reading →
Lawmakers from both parties are calling for closer scrutiny of Maine’s $230 million-a-year state-run lottery, including determining if its advertising targets Maine’s poor, who are the state’s most avid players. Continue Reading →
The year’s frenetic events in Maine’s statehouse mark a turn towards increasingly incendiary, winner-take-all politics. But the histrionics also underscore a more insidious problem: Maine’s weak accountability and transparency laws aren’t keeping up with the new pace of politics here, and lawmakers are doing little to change course.
This dynamic has earned Maine an F and a numerical score of 59, placing it tied for 42nd among the states in the 2015 State Integrity Investigation, an assessment of state government accountability and transparency conducted by the Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity. Continue Reading →