I write to encourage support for Maine’s Clean Elections Initiative, which will be on the ballot in November.

While serving as a pastor I needed to be available to people, so I didn’t talk about issues in ways that could be perceived as strongly political. But the influence of major donors and the time candidates need to spend dialing for dollars have deeply wounded our democracy. Our government has strayed far from the “of, by and for the people” ideal that Abraham Lincoln immortalized in his Gettysburg Address. That is why I took my turn gathering petition signatures at a polling station last year, and that is why I am writing now.

In 1996, Maine passed a public campaign financing law that has enabled candidates to run for public office who otherwise could not afford to. Since then, the law has been weakened and neglected.

The Clean Elections Initiative will require political ads to disclose their top funders. It will make governors-elect reveal who has given how much to their inaugural and transition accounts. It will increase penalties for violators of campaign finance laws and restore the Clean Elections Law.

I thank those people who signed the petition at polling stations last June or November. They helped make it possible for this state to move toward a more transparent and accountable democracy.

Now, it is up to all voters to follow through and support the Clean Elections Initiative in November.

Brendon Bass, Bethel

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