Bill would compel group hoping to elect third party presidential candidate to reveal donors

AUGUSTA, Maine — Rep. Les Fossel, R-Alna, plans to submit a bill that would require Americans Elect, a nonprofit organization working to promote a third party presidential candidate, to disclose its donors.

“I value the addition of another choice on the ballot, and it is quite possible we will see more of such an occurrence,” Fossel said. “My concern is that there seems to be some secrecy regarding where its money is coming from. I believe our campaign finance laws are critical to upholding the integrity of Maine’s election process.

“Therefore, I think party formation committees like this one should be treated the same as ballot question committees when it comes to disclosing financial support.”

Americans Elect bills itself as a nonpartisan organization that is not affiliated with any political party or ideology. According to its website, “It was founded by pioneers in direct technology and citizens from across the political spectrum who are worried that political divisions are keeping our nation’s big problems from being solved.”

The organization plans to select a presidential candidate through a secure, online convention in June and hopes to have its candidate on the ballot in every state come November. Americans Elect was certified to be on the Maine ballot earlier this year.

“Americans Elect lists itself as a non-profit and, as such, it is exempt from financial disclosure laws,” Fossel said. “We need to take a close look at this in committee and make sure it is not just a political organization exploiting election law loopholes to shield its donors.”

The Maine chairman of Americans Elect is former gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler. He has said that once a candidate is chosen, that candidate would be subject to the same campaign finance disclosure requirements as anyone.