The Chamberlain Project Key to Creating Appearance of Multiple Voices on Ranked Choice Voting in Maine
As I discussed in yesterday’s post at Irregular Times, the effort to convince Maine voters to embrace ranked choice voting is not primarily a home-funded affair. A search of Maine campaign finance records reveals that FairVote BQC, the official ballot question committee in support of ranked-choice voting, is 100% funded from out-of-state sources in 2016. This year, the PAC called the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting garnered 46.7% of its funding from just three sources, all out of state.
Standing behind the effort is a mysterious committee called The Chamberlain Project, a committee that was created when the campaign for ranked choice voting began in 2014 with a donation from one hedge fund billionaire. Since then, it has been sustained by donations from another hedge fund billionaire, the same billionaire who has funded FairVote. Those are the only two contributors to The Chamberlain Project.
In turn, The Chamberlain Project has funneled some of its funds to the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting. The other destinations for its funding in 2016 are:
- Drummond Woodsum (corporate lawyers)
- IVC Media (political media consultants)
- Peachtree Strategies (the one-man political fundraising shop run by Kyle Bailey)
- The Knight Canney Group (political media consultants)
- The New Media Firm (political media consultants)
The work of these groups funded by The Chamberlain Project has, in turn, been to turn out stories for Maine’s media markets that shower praise on the idea of ranked choice voting. These stories look independent, but they’re all tied to The Chamberlain Project through the application of money.
This application of money allows the Committee on Ranked Choice Voting to refer to a media interview with “Kyle Bailey” on Facebook, with no mention in its Facebook post of Bailey’s paid relationship to the campaign:
Knight Canney, in another example, has churned out multiple press releases referring to various campaign groups in support of ranked-choice voting, writing them as if they were unconnected to Knight Canney and its funder, The Chamberlain Project. This copy has then emerged as part of “independent” local news coverage.
A cynic might point out that money-shuffling to create deceptive media appearances is a common practice in politics. That may be true, but even if it is an open secret among political consultants, it is not common knowledge among the voters who are the credulous targets of this manipulation. Letting the voters know about the money shuffle is an important step in deflating the false appearance of a homespun grassroots network in favor of ranked choice voting.