I highlighted the prohibitive cost of running for office and having access to political power by setting up a sidewalk "bake sale" outside a Portland fundraiser for President Obama, where some donors were paying more than $30,000 for a dinner with the president.
It was an event designed to highlight the fact that ordinary Americans are priced out of our political system. And it shows. The mortgage crisis that nearly tanked our economy occurred at the behest of the biggest donors to political campaigns: Wall Street.
While the president and the political elite enjoyed their dinner in Portland, I stood with thousands of Maine families who are counting their dollars carefully trying to make ends meet. The proceeds of the event went to the Preble Street Resource Center's soup kitchen.
The message is simple: Government needs to work for ordinary middle-class people who play by the rules, not constantly spend its time currying favor with, and then crafting policies exclusively for, the wealthiest. Everyone should have access to their representatives.
A 2010 Supreme Court ruling known as Citizens United allows corporations and super-rich secret organizations to spend unlimited amounts of money on campaigns to elect or defeat federal candidates, adding to the enormous influence they already wielded within the political process.
The system needs reform, and when elected to be Maine's next U.S. senator, I will do everything in my power to make democracy accessible to the common man and woman.
I support two reform proposals currently circulating in Congress:
* The Fair Elections Now Act, which would establish a public funding system for federal elections and outline eligibility and contribution requirements, as well as prohibitions such as those on joint fundraising committees.
* The Disclose Act, which seeks to increase transparency of corporate and special-interest money in national political campaigns by requiring organizations involved in political campaigning to disclose the identity of the large donors, and to reveal their identities in any political ads they fund.