An out-of-state group is running an ad falsely accusing Democratic Gov. Janet Mills of supporting an increase in the gas tax.

The ad by the Maine Families First political action committee seems to be referring to “An Act to Price Carbon Pollution in Maine,” a bill introduced by Democrats in 2019.

At the time, the bill was expected to add 40 cents per gallon on carbon-based fuels, such as home heating oil and gasoline. It was opposed by Republicans, and Democrats ultimately abandoned the bill in committee.

The ad opens with a split screen of President Biden and Mills, who is wearing sunglasses, and uses clips of concerned-looking couples and women in their homes, pumping gas and in the grocery store.

“Joe Biden and Janet Mills are crushing Maine families,” a female narrator says. “Mills’ agenda will raise energy costs, hike Maine’s gas tax and increase grocery bills.”

It’s a false attack because Mills does not appear to have issued any official statements or testimony about the gas tax bill. She told the Press Herald at the time that she hadn’t decided, but she seemed skeptical.


“I’ll listen to the testimony and look at the bill,” Mills said when asked about the carbon tax in March 2019. “No other state has done it.”

Barry Hobbins, the public advocate nominated by the governor, testified neither for nor against bill, while raising “questions and concerns” for the committee to address.

So, it’s a leap to say it is part of her agenda and even more of leap to say that “it will raise energy costs” given that it was never enacted.

The ad, which is part of a $1 million ad campaign by a group operated by the conservative American Principles Project, which has been leaning into culture war issues such as gender identity across the country, is an attempt to link Mills to Biden, who remains unpopular and is expected dampen his party’s electoral prospects this fall.

The Maine Republican Party has been hammering away on Democrats who initially supported the gas tax bill all summer in an effort to tie them to inflation, which along with overall economic concerns is top of mind for many Maine voters, especially heading into the winter heating season.

It was a key line of attack against bill co-sponsor Rep. Nicole Grohoski in a special election for the District 7 Senate seat – a race she ultimately won. Republicans also planted “Biden Mills gas hike” signs outside of the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor during the Democrats’ state convention.

Maine Families First also claims that Mills’ agenda will increase grocery bills. That’s an apparent reference to “An Act To Support and Improve Municipal Recycling Programs and Save Taxpayer Money,” a bill introduced by a bipartisan group of lawmakers last year that would shift some recycling costs to companies that produce packaging material and products.

Mills ultimately signed the bill, which passed mostly along party lines with only one Republican vote in the Senate and two in the House.

Maine Families First is a front group for the American Principles Project, which conducted deceptive polling over the summer by saying it was being conducted by Maine Today. Some who received the poll believed it was conducted by Maine Today Media, which owns the Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. The group was testing anti-LGBTQ and anti-immigrant messages before airing ads attacking Mills.

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