Today the Center for Constitutional Government filed suit on behalf of four plaintiffs against the Maine Municipal Association over its improper interference with five citizens’ initiatives during the period 2003-2009. The MMA contributed nearly $2 million in cash and in-kind contributions to four political action committees dedicated to supporting or opposing LD1 (2004), the Palesky Initiative (2004), TABOR I (2006), TABOR II (2009) and the Car Tax Initiative (2009).
According to long-standing law, MMA’s contributions to and participation in the PACs and campaigns would be ruled improper governmental electioneering that violates voters’ civil rights. Under Maine law, MMA is a legal “instrumentality” of Maine’s municipalities and enjoys federal and state tax exemptions as a governmental entity. As a public entity, MMA is also subject to Maine’s Freedom of Access Act.
MMA can afford these remarkable expenditures because it is a wealthy organization, taking in millions of dollars each year in dues and administrative fees charged to its various insurance trusts. In 2008, for instance, MMA took in over $10 million dollars – of which over $8 million came from its insurance business. All such political expenditures were authorized by MMA’s Executive Committee, which is composed of municipal officers and officials.
MHPC’s complaint against the MMA is here. For further study, I’ve also linked below both to pertinent legal authority and to various MMA documents obtained through Freedom of Access Act requests. Most of the MMA documents are searchable.
Campaign for Sensible Transportation v. Maine Turnpike Authority (Maine Superior Court 1991)
MMA Financial Statements 2000-2009 (“bookmarked” by year for easy navigation)