“Clean Elections” Nothing More Than a Money Laundering Scheme?

6/28/18, Maine First Media Staff Report,

Speaker of the Swamp, Rep. Sara Gideon and her caucus of Candidate Welfare crack addicts, held up an extra session of the legislature for days in an attempt to secure more welfare for politicians.

The extra days of the extra session cost Maine families money. And the swamp creatures still aren’t done. While the legislature is on recess, they will be back on July 9th for “veto day.” However, it is widely speculated that veto day will focus on more than just Gov. Paul LePage’s vetos.

Tax conformity and transportation bonds are still on the table. Why? Because Swamp Speaker Gideon is saving them for leverage for her biggest priority — a steady flow of Candidate Welfare.

An error in the language of the original law prevented Candidate Welfare cash from being disbursed after a now-passed date. A fix to the language was thrown on as an amendment to a bill that bans signature gathering at polling places. The bill and amendment passed the House. The Senate is expected to pass it as well. But it will likely be vetoed. Meaning all eyes will be on the House GOP caucus to see if they stand strong with Gov. LePage, or fold as the Republican Senate did.

But why has forcing Mainers to fund campaigns of politicians they hate jumped to the top of the charts for the Left? It could be that they see it as a survival battle.

About 77% of Democratic legislative candidates have hands cupped, and arms stretched wide for their Candidate Welfare. Meanwhile, only 27% of Republicans, sold their soul to get out of asking for voluntary campaign contributions. In fact, about 80% of the 200 so-called “clean elections” candidate have D’s after their names.

While the donkeys clearly rely on Welfare for Politicians more so than the elephants do, it is how they use the money that is cause for major concern.

Rep. Paul Chace (R-Durham) says it was a lack of spending from his Candidate Welfare opponent in 2014 that drew his attention — and that’s when he began to dig around.

“When we looked into how it (his opponent’s campaign cash) was being spent, it was all blended with an organization that we couldn’t break down how much went to each mailer, and frankly I don’t know if they were even used in my district,” Rep. Chace said.

The organization Chace is referring to is, Mach3Media based out of, Portland.

“I believe they (Mach3Media) were used by a lot of folks in that (Democrat) Party, “Rep. Chace said.

According to Mach3Media’s website, they work extensively with Maine Democrats:

During the past two cycles, M3M served as the lead strategist and mail consultant for the Maine House Democratic Campaign Committee, helping the Democrats recapture the majority in 2012 and keep it in 2014 despite heavy losses at the top of the ticket.

And the  head of the company, David Loughran’s history with the Left in Maine goes even further back:

Prior to starting Mach3Media, David worked as Communications Director for the Maine Senate Democrats and Attorney General Steve Rowe.
He also worked for (partial list) the DCCC (KY & SD), ME HDCC, Congressman Tom Allen (ME), Gephardt for President (NH), Del. Ward Armstrong (VA), and McCaskill for Governor (MO).

And if you click here, you can see examples of the work they’ve done for powerful Democrats like House Majority Leader Erin Herbig, and former Representative Adam Goode, as well as an attack ad against Gov. Paul LePage. Their client list reads like a whos-who among the rich and powerful in Democrat Party politics.

So, we’ve established Loughran, and his Mach3Media are heavily connected to the power brokers within the Democratic community in the Pine Tree State.

However, simply giving your business to a like-minded person is not an unlikely scenario. What is troubling is if the Democrat Party is using Mach3Media to funnel “clean election” money from non-competitive races to competitive contests.

Under the Maine Clean Elections Act, candidates who force hardworking Mainers to fund their campaigns are capped at certain levels depending on how many $5 qualifying contributions they receive and which office they’re seeking (Senate candidates get more than House candidates, and gubernatorial candidates get more than Senate candidates).

The question is, are Democrats using Welfare for Politicians within the individual campaigns the money is meant for? Or, are they pooling the money into Mach3Media, then not spending full amounts on races in safe districts and using the excess to fund close races?

If so, that is political money laundering. And money laundering is not what voters intended when they approved “clean election” money.

“I find it difficult to correlate candidate expenditures to specific mailings and timing,” Rep. Chace said. “Which is why I supported a bill that required campaign mailers to include a copy going to Maine Ethics in the batch —  so they could correlate the spending in the district to the specific mailer and its cost and timing.”

The bill Rep. Chace is referring to is, Rep. Wayne Parry’s (R-Arundel) LD 716. Unfortunately, it fell just a few votes shy of passage.

While concrete evidence of a money-laundering scheme involving “clean elections” cash would be difficult to unearth, there does appear to be enough suspicion for the Ethics Commision to ask the question and investigate.

In fact, multiple sources have told Maine First Media, the Democrats’ Candidate Welfare scam is one of the worst-kept secrets in Augusta.

However, Democrats aren’t the only ones with Welfare for Politicians demons.

RINO “leadership” in the Senate has been very willing to go along with Speaker Gideon’s hostage games during the extra session. Our sources tell us, Senate Republicans are concerned they could lose out on as many as five seats if the Candidate Welfare buffet is not re-opened.

The fact is, while most GOP legislators are against Candidate Welfare, and while the Republican base finds it repugnant, there is a long history of GOP Party officials pushing candidates to take a hit from the Welfare for Politicians crack pipe.

Here’s how “clean elections” work in practice — for both parties.

Party officials recruit candidates to run in as many districts as they possibly can, with special attention paid to districts that are ripe for flipping. The officials then use Candidate Welfare as a selling point to the potential candidate. You see, for most people, fundraising is not fun, and it’s one of the deterrents to running for elected office. So the pitch is, sign up for “clean elections,” and the party will collect all your $5 qualifying contributions for you, so there will be no fundraising required.

But sometimes, as Rep. Heather Sirocki (R-Scarborough) found out, the party won’t take no for an answer. Rep. Sirocki recounted her experience with GOP Party Chair Charlie Webster, back in 2010 when she first considered running for office.

“In 2010, I was approached to run for office,” Rep. Sirocki said. “The House seat was open. I said, ‘No!’ Then someone else stepped forward, and I was relieved.

But a few months later, that candidate withdrew their candidacy, and Charlie Webster came knocking again.

“I waffled and then decided to run thinking, at the very least, I could serve as a name on the ballot,” Rep. Sirocki said. “Almost immediately, I was informed by the Party Chairman (Charlie Webster) that I was expected to run as a ‘clean elections candidate.’  The $5 qualifying checks had been collected, and I was told, ‘the Party will NOT help you if don’t run ‘clean.’ Do you understand? If you don’t run ‘clean,’ you will not get any help’.”

Rep. Sirocki was against Candidate Welfare on principle and declined the offer.

“In response, I told them I would rather lose than take Welfare for Politicians,” Rep. Sirocki said. “I received another phone call from the Party Chairman (Charlie Webster) with the same message, and, again, he received the same response from me. And I told them that I understood, and I did not want nor did I expect their help.

Rep. Sirocki raised $2,900 for her first campaign, all voluntary contributions from supporters. No one was forced to fund her efforts as Charlie Webster had insisted upon.

“I spent a total $2,800 on my first campaign,” Rep. Sirocki said. “And I won.”

Her opponent in 2010 received $5,000 in “clean election” funds. That was the limit at the time.

However, the caps tripled in 2015. House candidates are now eligible for up to $15,000 per election.

Eight years after the Party tried to strongarm her into taking Candidate Welfare, Rep. Sirocki remains steadfast against the scheme.

“Politicians shouldn’t jump to the front of the line with their hands out when the state still has hundreds of disabled individuals on waitlists,” Rep. Sirocki said. “The money should be returned immediately.”

Rep. Larry Lockman (R-Amherst) had a similar experience with Charlie Webster when he first ran for the State House in 2012. Rep. Lockman tells Maine First Media when he was approached to run for office; Charlie Webster convinced him to take “clean election” funding. According to Rep. Lockman, he does not remember the same, “take it, or you won’t have our support,” proposition Rep. Sirocki faced. However, he says Webster made a strong pitch, and the Maine-first champion agreed.

Rep. Lockman immediately regretted his decision.

“When I arrived at the Statehouse as a freshman Rep. in January 2013, I found out about the notorious Baldacci Medicaid waitlists of elderly and disabled Mainers,” Rep. Lockman said. “I introduced a budget amendment to strip the ‘clean election’ account of all funds, and move that money to the waitlists. The motion failed. and since then I’ve only accepted voluntary contributions in my two re-election campaigns against Democrats taking Campaign Welfare.”

In fact, earlier this week, Rep. Lockman’s conservative-populist advocacy organization, Maine First Project, sent out this e-mail to their supporters calling out Candidate Welfare as crack for swamp creatures in Augusta — an analogy we loved and blatantly ripped off.

And Rep. Lockman told Maine First Media he recalls calling supporters in his district and urging them to vote against the “clean elections” treble expansion in 2015. The district did vote against the expansion.

Meanwhile, Rep. Chace says Maine’s lying, dying, Fake News outlets are getting the story wrong.

“Some media outlets are trying to portray that this was an error that just should have simply been fixed,” Rep. Chace said. “But frankly, none of us have supported this added process in the first place. To be clear, I didn’t have a problem with people being able to get about $5, 000 for a House campaign, but $15, 000 is just egregious. It should be a starter for first-time candidates that are trying to get known. But I can’t think of a situation where an incumbent would have difficulty finding true supporters to help them fund their campaign — without taking it at gun point from the taxpayers. I will be using my road signs for the third time, so it’s not like these expenses are aggregating.”

Maine First Media believes Chace is being too generous to the swamp creatures. No Mainer should be forced to fund the campaign off any candidates they dislike.

We will report on veto day, July 9th, when we’ll find out if Swamp Speaker Sara Gideon and RINO-In-Chief, Sen. Mike Thibodeau are able to get their latest Candidate Welfare fix, or if the House GOP intervention will be successful.

  • Candidates, who are not wealthy enough to personally fund their own campaigns, should work hard at selling their political ideas and their character to their constituents for contributions. Welfare for politicians should be against the law, not encouraged or expanded to $15K which is outrageous.

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