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State campaign reports show millions spent to get votes

STATEWIDE (WGME) - Now that the primary election is in the books, campaign eyes focus on November's general election.

CBS 13 is digging into campaign finance reports, revealing just how much money is being spent by the candidates to get your votes. The amount of money raised and spent on the primary election alone shows just how much candidates and their supporters are in it to win it.

For example, finance reports show the four candidates in the primary 2nd district congressional race spent a combined more than $1.7 million.

In the major races in Maine this year, the most recent filings with the Federal Election Commission show Senator Susan Collins has raised the most money so far with $3,680,386. Her opponent in the US Senate race Shenna Bellows has raised $1,022,637 according to FEC reports.

"As money floods our elections the voices of every day Americans are diminished in our democracy, and we want a government that's accountable to voters, not donors," Andrew Bossie with Maine Citizens for Clean Elections said.

The watchdog group also works to reduce the impact of big money on the election process. It advocates for full public funding of candidates under the Maine Clean Election Act, instead of private donations.

But a recent Supreme Court decision actually makes it easier for private donors to give more money. It lifts the cap on the total amount a donor can contribute to federal candidates like those running for US House or Senate. Lawyers for an Alabama businessman argued laws limiting overall contributions are a violation of free speech.

Maine still limits the amount individual donors can give to a single candidate for state races. For example, $1,500 dollars can be donated per election for candidates for governor. Those donations add up though. In this year's gubernatorial race, all three major candidates have already raised more than a million dollars with democrat Mike Michaud leading that pack with $1,677,250, according to numbers filed with the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices

Candidates can also accept donations from registered political action committees.

Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, those elections funded by taxpayers and not donors and committees, are circulating a petition to strengthen Maine's clean election laws. That could be on the ballot November 2015.