10/31/18, Maine First Media Staff Report,
Swamp politicians in Augusta have been put on notice.
Conservative-populist non-profit, Maine First Project has released a first of its kind scorecard.
Maine First Project’s 2018 Swamp Digest Trackcard goes well beyond a traditional scorecard.
“Scorecards can provide useful information to constituents, but unfortunately, politicians have learned how to manipulate them,” said Maine First Project Executive Director Zach Gelpey. “We’ve developed a trackcard that eliminated manipulation, pulls no punches and offers no excuse. Constituents deserve to know who in Augusta fought to prioritize the needs of Mainers and who sold Maine families down the river.”
The Swamp Digest examines how each of Maine’s 186 legislators voted on the most important bills from the never-ending legislative session. But beyond that, they use behind the scenes information from the Coliseum on the Kennebec to add extra information about the roles many lawmakers played in advancing or killing critical pieces of legislation.
“For far too long, politicians in Maine have campaigned one way in their home districts and then behaved the opposite way in Augusta,” Gelpey said. “In order to get a positive score from Maine First Project, not only did a Representative or Senator need to vote correctly on the bills that matter most to Maine families, but they also had to lead the fight on at least one Maine-first policy.”
The Swamp Digest does not assign a percentage or even award a letter grade to politicians. In the Swamp Digest, a lawmaker is either “Trending Up,” “Neutral Trend,” or “Trending Down.”
“We wanted to avoid a trick many swamp critters use,” Gelpey told Maine First Media. “Often, a politician will score well one year on a given scorecard — and then for the rest of their career; they will cite that one good score, no matter how many more bad scores they get from the particular organization. By saying a legislator is, for example, trending down, means they can hopefully improve and do better for their constituents the following session.”
Not many legislators faired well in the Swamp Digest. Every Democrat in both the House and Senate was marked as “Trending Down.”
There were a handful of House Republicans who Maine First Project graded as “Trending Up,” but just as many were down or neutral.
In the Senate, only three Republicans avoided a downtrend, with only two, Sen. Eric Brakey of Auburn and Sen. Rod Whittemore of Somerset, receiving positive marks.
Maine First Project says they plan for the Swamp Digest to be an annual feature. They also say their trackcard was debuted later than they had wanted because of how long the 2018 legislative session ran. The vote on investigating Speaker of the Swamp Sara Gideon on her inept handling of the Dillon Bates scandal, and the battle to end Candidate Welfare crack were factored into their metric. Both of those matters weren’t decided until the final days of the session.