Lewiston, ME – Candidate for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, Jared Golden, delivered the following remarks at a press conference on May 7, 2018.
Jared Golden: There is a problem in this Democratic Primary.
And that problem is easy to define: Secretive donors are spending unlimited amounts of money to influence this election.
Last week, a mysterious Portland-based organization, the Maine Outdoor Alliance, spent more than $300,000 dollars to run television and digital ads. The source of their money is unknown, their donors are secret, but their intentions are clear. They want to buy this nomination for Lucas St. Clair. As we enter the final month of this election, I expect to see more of this type of money enter this race.
I have served on the committee that handles election laws in Maine. The most important steps that lawmakers can take right now, given the Supreme Court’s decision on Citizens United, are to increase transparency in campaign finance and demand greater accountability. There are far too many loopholes that allow individuals, corporations, and organizations to launder money, skirt campaign finance laws, and funnel unlimited, unaccountable dollars – what we call dark money – into elections.
The Maine Outdoor Alliance was clearly created to buy influence in this primary, and to do so without any accountability. But here’s the real problem. Lucas St. Clair’s campaign has said, and I quote: ‘We don’t know who’s doing this.’ That simple statement doesn’t pass the straight face test.
As you’ve seen and heard reported by the Bangor Daily News and Maine Public Broadcasting already, the Maine Outdoor Alliance is run by the best man from Lucas’s wedding. And the political consultant who helped procure these television ads has a history of working with Lucas St. Clair and his family. Clearly, their campaign knows who’s doing this.
The St. Clair campaign has said that part of the reason he is running for Congress is to address the problem of money in politics and to fight to reform our broken campaign finance system. But if Democrats don’t practice what we preach, then what credibility do we have to fight to get money out of politics? That’s the real impact of this situation. How can Democrats hold Bruce Poliquin accountable for taking part in a broken campaign finance system, if we aren’t first accountable ourselves?
I have publicly disclosed every penny that has been donated to me or spent on my campaign. Here are my FEC reports. You can see every donation, whether it comes from Fort Kent or Kittery, Freeport or Fryeburg, California or New York. I have received support from all over this country. Every one of those donations has been publicly disclosed, and there are no secret donors supporting my campaign.
So I have a number of solutions to offer to solve this problem:
- Maine Outdoor Alliance is run by the best man from Lucas’s wedding. Lucas should publicly call on him to disclose the donors that are paying for these ads in Maine.
- If the Maine Outdoor Alliance won’t reveal the source of its money, then Lucas should publicly call on their ads to be taken down immediately, and call on them to cease all spending in this election.
- In the coming weeks I will be working to develop a campaign finance reform agenda to address the problem of dark money and hidden donors in order to increase transparency for every political donation and all campaign related spending.
- Because of the immediacy of the problem that we are experiencing in this campaign, I have also signed this pledge to Maine voters. As a Democratic candidate for Congress – I will reject all independent expenditures made on my behalf that are paid for by secretive donors. If you aren’t willing to support me publicly by disclosing the source of your money in the light of day, then I don’t want your support. Voters deserve to know who is funding my campaign and who is spending money to influence their vote.
I am calling on all Democrats in Maine. Put your cards on the table, reveal all of your donors, and reject shady outside organizations like the Maine Outdoor Alliance who hide donors from the people of Maine. This is how Democrats bring about real change: by holding ourselves and our own campaign finance practices accountable to the higher standards that we are fighting for.
Because here’s the bottom line – and it’s an important lesson I learned in the Marines. As leaders, we must hold ourselves to a high standard. Just because we can do something, doesn’t mean we should. Just because we can do something, doesn’t make it right.