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Question 2 passes, banning foreign electioneering in Maine

A sampling of political mailers sent to Maine voters on Question 1.
Steve Mistler
Maine Public
A sampling of political mailers sent to Maine voters on Question 1.

A ban on election spending by foreign government-owned organizations was overwhelmingly approved by voters Tuesday night.

With the passage of Question 2, Maine closes a loophole in state law, preventing organizations owned by a foreign government from spending money on state referendum elections.

The Associated Press called the race before 10 p.m. Tuesday, as early results showed over 86% in support of the change.

Sen. Rick Bennett says the referendum is a key component in keeping Maine elections free and fair.

"Well, in the last few years we've actually seen $100 million spent by foreign governments in our elections, it's a clear and present danger — that hasn't been lost on Maine people," Bennett said.

The initiative was opposed by business and press organizations.

Maine State Chamber of Commerce President Patrick Woodcock said in a statement that the referendum could have broad impacts, and the organization is concerned it may "limit legitimate democratic participation of many existing and future investors in the state of Maine."

The referendum is the first step in campaign funding reform, Bennett says. The ballot initiative also requires Maine's federal delegation to sponsor an anti-corruption resolution in Congress.

"It is immensely gratifying," Bennett said. "This is a completely nonpartisan effort by hundreds and hundreds of volunteer Maine people who understand the problem with money in politics and know that this is a problem that we need to deal with."

Kaitlyn Budion is Maine Public’s Bangor correspondent, joining the reporting team after several years working in print journalism.

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