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Effort to Push Ranked Choice Voting in Maine Comes From Big Out Of State Money

Do Mainers want to start using ranked choice voting, a system by which candidates who successfully identify as “centrist” are most likely to win office?  I don’t know; we’ll have to wait and see until Election Day, when Ballot Question 5 is either passed or quashed by voters.

Money from Out of State Floats into MaineBut this I do know: the two organizations pushing hardest to convince Mainers to support ranked choice voting are not of Maine.  They’re propped up by out of state mystery money.

Consider Organization 1, the official Ballot Question Committee called the Fair Vote Ballot Question Committee.  In 2016, this committee is 100% funded from a single out of state source: the national Fair Vote organization in Takoma Park, Maryland.  In turn, Fair Vote is sustained by donations from a number of foundations created by super-wealthy people: The Rockefeller Foundation. The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation.  The Ford Foundation.  The Laura and John Arnold Foundation.

Then there’s Organization 2, the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting.  In 2016, this largest contributors to this committee are: The Chamberlain Project (24.3% of all funding), John Palmer of San Francisco (8.4% of all funding), Mary Palmer of San Francisco (8.4% of all funding), and NYC private wealth investor Jonathan Soros (5.6% of all funding). That’s 46.7% of funding from just four sources. Or are those really four sources?  John Palmer and Mary Palmer live in the same zip code, and according to Ballotpedia they are married.  So if we conclude that Mary Palmer and John Palmer are working together, that’s 46.7% of funding for the committee from just three sources.

We know three of those four sources are out of state. What about The Chamberlain Project?  It’s Organization 3.  In 2014, it was started with sponsorship from Peter Ackerman, the DC/NYC hedge fund operator who tried to fund his own presidential candidate in 2012 through the hedge-fund community’s private political party called Americans Elect.  In 2016, the Chamberlain Project was supported from just two sources: Level the Playing Field, the front group for DC/NYC hedge fund tycoon Peter Ackerman, and the Action Now Initiative of Houston, Texas — an arm of the same Laura and John Arnold Foundation that has funded FairVote.  Laura and John Arnold became billionaires through a hedge fund operation.

I don’t know what Mainers are going to decide, but I do know who’s pushing them to vote “yes”: a small set of very, very rich people and hedge fund billionaires.

Data Source: Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics & Election Practices

One thought on “Effort to Push Ranked Choice Voting in Maine Comes From Big Out Of State Money”

  1. Drew says:

    There have been bills in the Maine legislature for RCV for a decade. This effort began as a working group, meeting in Augusta, organized by the Maine League of Women Voters. The campaign is led and staffed by Mainers who believe RCV is best for Maine. The political reality is that winning a ballot measure takes a lot more money than can be raised in state; look into any successful ballot measure, and you’ll find that they reached out to folks out of state for money. That doesn’t mean the effort isn’t a legitimately grassroots Maine effort.

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