We’ve been hearing a lot about the recent political-action committee reports submitted to the Maine Ethics Commission from the campaigns both for and against the Maine Taxpayer Bill of Rights – Question 1 on the Nov. 7 ballot. The media have done their job of reporting the general facts: the pro-Maine Taxpayer Bill of Rights campaign is supported primarily by Maine citizens while opposition groups like Citizens United to Protect Our Public Safety, Schools and Communities, or just Citizens United, are funded almost exclusively by out of state organizations and taxpayer-funded special interests. Following the money shows the big picture about who is behind both sides of Question 1.
Citizens United claims to be fighting for the best interests of Maine citizens – their name says so, after all – by opposing the Maine Taxpayer Bill of Rights. A closer look at their PAC report shows something different.
In all of 2006, Citizens United raised an astounding $676,850. Pretty impressive, until you learn that less than 3 percent of this amount came from individuals actually from Maine. To break it down even further, only 15 Maine citizens and three Maine businesses felt the Citizens United cause was worth donating to.
In all, over 75 percent of Citizens United’s fund came from national organizations, over half a million dollars. The National Education Association alone donated $250,000. Another 20 percent of their total funds came from 8 special interest groups, to the tune of $138,000.
That doesn’t sound like a citizen supported effort to me.
A look at the Maine Taxpayer Bill of Rights’ PAC report demonstrates a true citizen supported initiative.
The Maine Taxpayer Bill of Rights has raised a little over $225,000. But it’s not just the total contributions that tell the story; it’s the number of contributors. In all, over 550 individuals and businesses have contributed to our cause. Our fundraising efforts represent a tremendous outpouring of support from folks all across the state who want controlled government spending and a reduced tax burden.
Ninety-three percent of all of our contributors, that’s more than 500 individuals, are actual Maine citizens, totaling 76 percent of our total funds. The other 41 contributors did come from out-of-state, but most of these contributions were from businesses with Maine connections and individuals who own Maine property.
These are the details of a PAC report from an organization working for the best interests of Maine’s citizens. Maine’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights will empower Maine voters, control the amount of our tax dollars government can collect and spend, reduce taxes over time and improve our economy.
The Taxpayer Bill of Rights is about allowing government to grow every year – at a reasonable rate. The Taxpayer Bill of Rights never forces a cut – even for towns with decreasing populations or schools with dropping enrollment. It is about having voters approve spending increases beyond this reasonable limit and approving any tax or fee increases. The Taxpayer Bill of Rights is about moving control of Maine’s high tax burden away from those receiving tax dollars – the special interests – to those paying tax dollars – the taxpayer.
It’s not surprising that special interests and national organizations have filled the Citizens United war chest with hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s really no wonder that Citizens United has had to look to out of state donors to fund their assault on the taxpayers of Maine. It doesn’t appear they’re having much luck selling their scare tactics to Mainers who obviously know better. In fact, since the Ethics Commission filing deadline, 113 additional individual Maine supporters of the Maine Taxpayer Bill of Rights have contributed over 12,000 Maine dollars in support of this Maine initiative. The other side may have gigantic contributions from out of state, but we obviously have the unwavering support of the Maine taxpayer solidly in our corner.
Voting Yes on Question #1, the Maine Taxpayer Bill of Rights, will mean great things for Maine’s citizens. They get it, and they’re working for it and contributing to it. You can see for yourself on the Maine Ethics Commission Web site at www.mainecampaignfinance.com.
Brian Parke is treasurer of TaxpayerBillofRights.com PAC.