For Immediate Release: November 1, 2017
Contact: Garrett Murch, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Chair Demi Kouzounas files request that Attorney General Janet Mills immediately open investigation of group that flouted transparency law
during signature collection
- Maine People's Alliance only filed required documents months after
petitions were submitted to Secretary of State
- Chair Kouzounas says signatures collected were done so in violation of the spirit and letter of the law
AUGUSTA – The Maine Republican Party today issued a statement exposing that the Maine People's Alliance, an extreme liberal group with a history of questionable and unsavory actions, violated state election law in illegally gathering signatures for this year's Question 2 on Medicaid Expansion without required public disclosure through the Maine Secretary of State's Office.
“The Maine People's Alliance clearly chose to hide their activity from the public by refusing to submit their required Registration Application to the Secretary of State,” said Maine GOP Chair Dr. Demi Kouzounas. “In fact, it was not until an inquiry was made to the Maine Secretary of State's Office that they were forced to file.”
“Today we are filing a request asking Attorney General Janet Mills to investigate and prosecute this violation of state law under Section 903-C of Title 21-A, as is her obligation under 21-A MRS § 33,” continued Dr. Kouzounas.
“Because the Maine People's Alliance failed to submit their Registration Application to the Secretary of State until after all the petition signatures were submitted for certification, there could be many thousands of signatures that were collected illegally but used to qualify this question for the ballot,” said Dr. Kouzounas.
“Whether a voter agrees or disagrees with the merits of this ballot question, ignoring Maine transparency laws and illegally collecting signatures to qualify for the ballot is something we should not allow to stand,” concluded Dr. Kouzounas. “We must take action to protect the integrity of our elections. This is a clear violation of both the letter and the spirit of the law.”
To read Maine GOP Chair Kouzounas' letter to Attorney General Mills and share with those you know on social media, please click here.
Section 903-C of Title 21-A, which governs the process attendant to ballot questions, states that petition organizations “shall register with the Secretary of State” and provide certain information to the Secretary “prior to organizing, supervising or managing the circulation of petitions for a direct initiative of legislation.” Among other things, the petition organization “must” include the contact information for the organization as well as a list of all individuals hired to conduct or supervise the circulation of petitions. This information must be updated after the petitions are filed with the Secretary of State. The registration application “must be made available for public inspection and must be posted on the publicly accessible website of the Secretary of State.” A knowing violation of this statute is a Class E crime under 21-A MRS § 32(1)(A).
This Registration Application is provided by the Secretary of State in the Citizen Initiative Application Packet which is provided to every organization pursuing a Citizen's Initiative referendum and available on the Secretary of State's website.
Section 903-C serves the vital public purpose of transparency by providing Maine voters with information regarding the organizations that are flooding the state with direct initiatives. Sunlight is a powerful tool in the direct initiative process. The importance of this provision is underscored by the criminal penalties for knowing violations.
October 28, 2016: Secretary of State approves ballot initiative. Citizen Initiative Application Packet to be provided.
December 15, 2016: Maine Equal Justice Partners announces they have collected 65,000 signatures for Medicaid Expansion.
January 25, 2017: Maine Equal Justice Partners submits 65,000 signatures to the Maine Secretary of State.
August 29, 2017: More than seven months after signatures were submitted to Secretary of State, Maine People's Alliance submits required Registration Application to Secretary of State revealing involvement in signature gathering process.