By Cindy Williams (NEWS CENTER Maine)
WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — Maine Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Golden is backing a bill that aims to get money out of politics and give power back to the people. The H.R.1 bill, or the “For the People Act of 2021,” is touted as being the most comprehensive democracy reform bill in a generation.
Golden said in a press conference Tuesday that he hears from constituents regularly about the lack of transparency in politics and election financing, and about the corruption that the current system promotes.
Golden said he hears that “That big money controls Washington, fat cats hold the purse strings to taxpayer dollars, politicians are beholden to big donors, and that special interest and dark money organizations buy our elections.”
The bill would take many of Maine’s voting policies including paper ballots, same-day voter registration, and clean campaign financing, and would implement them nationwide.
Opponents contend it is a one-size-fits-all approach that would take away local control of elections. But Golden says he really doesn’t understand what anyone would object to.
“Using paper ballots, to ensure we have a secure record of your vote? Being able to register on the same day as the election? Being able to vote absentee without restrictions… without having to have an excuse. It has caused no problems in Maine. It’s made our elections more accessible and more effective,” Golden said. “Greater access to voting is what constituents want. It’s at the core of our democracy and what the people want.”
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H.R.1 would also close the loopholes that allow some groups not to disclose their major donors.
Golden said, “The concerns about money in politics are not partisan shared by all types of Americans in every part of my district and in every part of the country. These problems will not take care of themselves. The corrupting force of money in politics and in government operations can only be clean-up with we have the political will to do it ourselves.”
This is the same bill that Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows testified about last week.
H.R.1 will be up for a vote in the House this week, and it includes two provisions Golden added:
Golden’s Block Foreign-Funded Political Ads Act would protect elections from foreign political interference and disinformation campaigns by pushing online ad sellers like Facebook to use credit card data to verify that political ads on their platforms are purchased from a U.S. address.
Golden’s Consistent Labeling for Political Ads Act would increase transparency in online political advertising by requiring social media companies to make ad labels ‘sticky,’ meaning ad labels would stick with paid posts even after the posts are shared by another user.
Golden’s push comes fresh off his vote against the $1.9 trillion stimulus package, which passed without his support. Golden said he voted against it because of the extra spending included. He said during a press conference over the weekend that his vote on that and his back of this bill are closely tied because both deal with big money in politics.
Golden was joined in Tuesday’s virtual news conference by Tiffany Muller, Executive Director of the End Citizens United Action Fund; Anna Kellar, Executive Director of Maine Citizens for Clean Elections; and Jill Ward, State President of the Maine League of Women Voters.