AUBURN — Councilors will not weigh in on a national campaign finance issue, they decided Monday.
Councilors agreed last month to consider a resolution or statement calling for a national review of how political action committees influence elections and the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision.
"I don't think that any city council in any city in this country should be making resolutions dissenting with the Supreme Court, anytime," Councilor Joshua Shea said. "It's opening a can of worms that we don't need to deal with. It's not our place, whether we support it or don't support it."
Councilors narrowly split in the issue, with Shea, David Young and Mary LaFontaine saying it wasn't a city issue.
Councilors Tizz Crowley, Belinda Gerry and Robert Hayes disagreed.
"I'd like to hear what the public has to say, but I don't want staff to spend any time on it," Hayes said. "If we have something before us, it will give people the opportunity to discuss it and the people to review it."
Lewiston's City Council adopted a resolution in September that targets the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United v. FEC decision that ruled that some campaign finance reporting rules violated the First Amendment.
It calls for a new constitutional amendment that would define election spending as different from protected first amendment speech, let state and federal government regulate election spending and clarify that human beings are endowed with constitutional rights. Corporations are not guaranteed constitutional protection, according to the resolution.
Portland, Bangor, Waterville and several other Maine communities have also adopted resolutions calling for new campaign finance definitions.
Councilor Crowley said it is a concern for the city.
"It is naive to think that unlimited donations will not affect the city of Auburn and its residents," Crowley said.
But City Manager Clinton Deschene said the issue was obviously politically partisan, and city staff tries to stay away from partisan discussions.
"As far as drafting a resolution, I'm not going to do it," Deschene said. "I'm not going to read the entire Supreme Court decision. It's huge."