This morning, Rep. Jeff Pierce of Dresden sent a letter to Beth Ashcroft, the Director of the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability requesting an investigation into possible abuses of Maine’s citizens’ referendum process and whether or not it still meets its original intent.
The Maine Legislature continues to work on changes to the current referendum process and Rep Pierce’s request comes on the heels of the Government Oversight Committee giving unanimous approval to an investigation of the alleged nefarious behavior by those running the campaign to get a new casino in York County.
“Unfortunately, it appears to have become a regular occurrence for wealthy special interest groups, many from out of state, to swoop in and take advantage of Maine’s citizens’ referendum process, allowing them to get their issue on the ballot. These groups have been more than willing to do so by any means necessary,” Rep. Pierce writes in his letter to OPEGA Director Beth Ashcroft. “It seems the original intent of the citizens’ referendum…was to allow everyday citizens, not wealthy special interest groups, to have a voice in public policy independent of the legislature. But that notion seems to be quickly becoming a thing of the past and Maine policy making is now commonly thought of as ‘a cheap date’ for these special interest groups.”
The Legislature agreed to carry over a bill that would make marginal changes to the referendum process. The bill is still a work in progress and the hope is the information gathered by OPEGA during this investigation will help in the crafting the final bill.
Rep. Jeff Pierce is the ranking House Republican on the Government Oversight Committee.