See who’s funding the fight over Maine’s vaccination requirements

Shawn Moody, Stephen King, and lots of chiropractors join the battle over religious exemptions

Correction and update: Contributions to the ballot question committee Maine Street Solutions – Protect Schools were not included in a prior version of this story due to a programming error. The Maine Ethics Commission website does not return records for those contributions in its transaction-level search, but the records are in the state’s raw data download of 2020 contributions. That includes $250,000 each from pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Merck, supporting the referendum.

Former Republican gubernatorial candidate Shawn Moody, chiropractors across Maine, and the Minnesota-based Organic Consumers Association are among the notable donors trying to repeal a new state law that removed non-medical exemptions from the requirement that children get vaccinated against common diseases.

Pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Merck together put $500,000 toward support of the new vaccination requirements, given to the ballot question committee Maine Street Solutions – Protect Schools.

Explore the contributions, updated nightly, in the graphic below.

Donations to both sides of the “people’s veto” referendum fight continue to pour in ahead of the vote on March 3. On Feb. 20, author Stephen King contributed $20,000 to the effort to defend the law, which Gov. Janet Mills signed last May. The Maine Hospital Association is the largest opponent of the push to reinstate religious and philosophical exemptions to vaccination requirements. The requirements apply to elementary and secondary school students, college students, and employees of nursery schools and health care facilities.

Other notable donors supporting the law’s repeal, thus reinstating the exemptions, include Auburn mayor Jason Levesque, leaders of Quirk Auto Group, and Bangor-based Cross Insurance, which owns naming rights to two of the largest indoor arenas in the state.

See the data behind this visualization in this Google Sheet or by downloading data from the Tableau graphic above.