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ALEC in the Kennebec Journal: How a Soros-backed Group Seeks to Cancel ALEC

The objective of Center for Media and Democracy is to eliminate voices from the public sphere, writes a former state legislator.

“The political left in this country is intent on silencing ALEC, canceling them from all public discourse for the simple reason that ALEC is effective.” – Richard H. Campbell, former state lawmaker, Maine

Maine Compass: Ethics commission moves forward with nuisance complaint against conservative group

Kennebec Journal

March 30, 2022

By Richard H. Campbell

As a lifelong Mainer and former state lawmaker, I have great respect for Maine’s unique politics. Mainers are some of the most level-headed, well-informed voters in the country. We tend to be centrists in our views, demanding above all else openness, transparency and accountability from our leaders. As a result, Mainers have more than 60 different government watchdog groups, everything from the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine to the Bicycle Coalition of Maine.

We take our watchdog role seriously in Maine.

That’s why I was surprised to learn that the Maine Commission on Government Ethics is moving forward with a nuisance complaint filed by an outside group, which claims watchdog status, against an organization I have known and worked with for years, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The objective of Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) is simple — perpetuate the current “cancel culture” environment by eliminating from the public square by any means necessary those voices and opinions with whom CMD and their far-left supporters disagree.

CMD, a Wisconsin-based group funded by far-left political agitators and activists such as George Soros, is seeking to cancel ALEC on a baseless allegation that ALEC, the nation’s largest nonpartisan membership organization of state legislators, is improperly awarding campaign donations to its members by providing lawmakers with access to a constituent service tool. CMD has filed a dozen similar ethics complaints across the country against ALEC, all of which have either been thrown out as baseless, or likely soon will be. Indeed, state ethics commissions in Ohio, Minnesota, and Wisconsin have already tossed out similar complaints.

The irony of the case is that neither of Maine’s lawmakers named by CMD actually used the constituent service tool that is at the heart of the case. As a result, the ethics commission voted unanimously to dismiss a complaint that two Republican state lawmakers violated state campaign finance laws.

CMD admitted that it did not know whether any lawmakers actually used the software, but that inconvenient truth didn’t stop CMD from filing an ethics complaint against ALEC, alleging the software nonetheless amounted to an illegal campaign donation. Maine’s professional staff on the ethics commission likewise recommended the suit be dismissed.

Ultimately, a divided commission ignored staff counsel’s recommendation and voted 3-2 to move forward with an investigation. The Ethics Commission, appointed by the governor, is comprised of two Democrats, two Republicans and one independent, Dennis Marble.

The political left in this country is intent on silencing ALEC, canceling them from all public discourse for the simple reason that ALEC is effective. ALEC is a successful incubator of free-market ideas, like creating American energy independence, balanced budgets and school choice. ALEC puts state legislators in touch with businesses, think tanks and others who want to discuss pro-growth policies, and it often adopts model legislation that legislators can adapt for their own respective state.

ALEC is an open, honest, and transparent organization. That’s more than I can say about the group that is attacking them, CMD who is pursuing what amounts to a witch-hunt.

My recommendation is that the commission should resist becoming a political tool of any party or organization if it wishes to maintain it’s place as a political watchdog and fair arbiter in Maine elections

Richard H. Campbell served in the Maine House of Representatives from 1992-2000 again from 2012-2020, and is a candidate for the House in 2022.