Local legislators were united in their support of the Maine Clean Election Act that provides public money for the campaigns of gubernatorial and legislative candidates.

The House voted 112-33 on June 14 to defeat a bill, LD 659, that would have repealed the Clean Election Act. The Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee had recommended defeat of the repeal effort.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Aaron Libby, R-Waterboro.

The Clean Election Act was approved by voters in a 1996 referendum. The bill provides money for candidates’ campaign if they do not accept private money.

All local legislators were opposed to the repeal bill.

“I am a strong supporter of the Clean Elections law, but even if I wasn’t, I would oppose this effort to repeal it because it was put in place by the voters in referendum,” Rep. Chuck Kruger, D-Thomaston, said. “I think it works very well especially at the Legislative level.”

Rep. Joan Welsh, R-Rockport, said Maine’s Clean Election Act is very important and enables people from all walks of life to run.

“Eliminating funds for governor could well restrict some qualified people from running,” Welsh said.

Rep. Andrew O’Brien, D-Lincolnville, said 390,000 people voted for clean elections by referendum.

“I don’t believe that the Legislature should vote against the will of the people. Forty thousand people check the box on their tax forms to support clean elections every year. Repealing clean elections would bring more money into local elections and restrict many new and qualified people from running,” O’Brien said.

Walter Kumiega III, D-Deer Isle, noted he ran with public financing and thought the system worked well and should continue.

The Senate has yet to vote on the measure.