Will Maine Campaign Finance Rules Change?

With little doubt, the impact crater surrounding Monday’s US Supreme Court decision in the case of American Tradition Partnership Inc V Bullock will touch Maine, as well as every other state in the country.

Tucked within the decision with a nod back to the Citizens United case, the Court before opened up a floodgate of new money into political campaigns. Monday’s 5-4 decision in this case from Montana declared that the Citizens United case applies to state campaign finance laws as well.

For those in the back of the class, the Maine House and Maine Senate races along with municipal races just got a bit pricier.

In that much maligned CU case, corporations AND unions were given the green light to spend virtually unlimited amounts in campaigns. Since in the new world money is speech,  state rules about who can donate, the limits of what they can donate have just been tossed off the cliff.

Reached for comment Monday, Jonathan Wayne,  Executive Director of the Maine Ethics Commissionm was mostly mum.”“The decision of the court today will not affect elections for Maine State Offices, as Maine law did not have the same provisions. Formerly, Montana law had forbidden corporate contributions, but that has never been the case in Maine.”

That comment might have been a bit short-sighted, since the ruling clearly stated “political speech does not lose First Amendment protection simply because its source is a corporation.”

In tossing this money grenade back to the states mid-summer, clearly the amount of organizations registering with the state as a PAC (or even a Super-PAC) will increase. Also gone may be limits the state has placed on state races (for example, $3000 for the Governors race.)

The haunting paragraph stands inside the decision. “The question presented in this case is whether the holding of Citizens United applies to the Montana state law. There can be no serious doubt that it does.”

Missed, among the waiting for the Affordable Care Act decision was the impact of that statement. States may no longer limit the amount corporations OR unions contribute to campaigns…even at the local level.

Hear the thundering sound off in the distance? Money is coming.