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December 17, 2023

Lawsuits Threaten Maine's Safeguards Against Foreign Election Interference

American Promise Sounds Alarm as Lawsuits Threaten Maine’s Safeguards Against Foreign Election Interference

December 17, 2023
Published By American Promise
Entities Owned by Foreign Governments and the Biggest Beneficiaries of Political Spending are Working to Overturn the Will of 86% of Maine Voters.

Boston, Massachusetts – American Promise expressed urgent concern as four lawsuits were filed in federal court this week challenging Maine’s recently passed Question 2, which prohibits foreign government spending in the state’s elections. This development thrusts Maine’s historic victory against foreign influence back into the national spotlight, raising alarms about potential threats to similar efforts across the country. 

“These lawsuits represent a brazen attempt to undermine the will of the Maine people,” said Jeff Clements, co-founder and CEO of American Promise. “If we’re to take one thing away from the 86% voter approval for Question 2, it’s that the American people want our elections free from foreign meddling. We will always stand with Americans who believe in the promise of self-government, and we’ll push back against outside influences who seek to interfere with the integrity of our elections.”

The lawsuits – filed by CMP and Versant (both owned by foreign governments), the Maine Association of Broadcasters and the Maine Press Association, and a small group of individuals – argue that Question 2 violates their First Amendment rights. Supporters of Question 2, however, counter that these arguments offer a dangerous pretext for foreign governments to exert undue influence on American elections.

The current campaign finance system is interfering with the ability of the states and Congress to truly serve their communities. Between 2010 and 2022, more than $2.6 billion in dark money was spent on campaigns, representing $3 out of every $10 in outside spending in elections. 

Emboldened by Supreme Court decisions, foreign actors are taking advantage of the dark money system. A constitutional amendment is necessary to provide a better framework for dealing with foreign influence in our elections. The For Our Freedom Amendment, proposed by American Promise, will empower the states and Congress to set reasonable limits on campaign spending, break the influence of coercive money, and create lasting reform.

American Promise, a cross-partisan organization committed to ratifying the For Our Freedom Amendment, released a report that clearly illustrates the coercive influence of foreign money on the political system, and no election appears immune. The report, The Problem of Foreign Money in Politics, found that $219 million was spent by foreign entities in California in 2020 alone to defeat a ballot initiative, and $67 million was spent in Maine in 2021 by a Canadian government-owned provincial energy utility to defeat a single ballot measure; while 83% of referendum spending in 2023 in Maine has been by foreign government-owned entities. PACs connected to foreign companies spent nearly $20 million in federal elections in 2022. 

The For Our Freedom Amendment, around which Republican and Democratic lawmakers are rallying, will reclaim the power from a small minority of elites, foreign states, and special interest groups that do not truly represent constituents’ interests, and return our politics to finding consensus to solve problems on their behalf.

“The Maine voters’ decisive action inspired a national movement,” said Kaitlin LaCasse, American Promise Deputy Executive Director and campaign manager for the Question 2 initiative. “Communities across the country are looking to Maine as a model for protecting their elections, and these lawsuits could send a chilling message that such efforts will be met with legal challenges.”

American Promise urges the courts to uphold the will of the Maine people and dismiss these lawsuits. They call on other states and the federal government to take action now and support the For Our Freedom Amendment.

About American Promise

American Promise is a cross-partisan organization committed to a singular vision: ratifying the For Our Freedom Amendment to empower the states and Congress to set reasonable limits on political spending, ensuring every American voice counts. Our mission has drawn support from Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike. Leaders from business, politics, academia, the military, and nonprofits are among our ranks, including former members of Congress and Supreme Court justices.

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