LETTERS: AARP is politically nonpartisan

To the editor:

As we get closer to Election Day, the number and intensity of attack ads continues to grow. Unfortunately, I continue to see political ads that mention AARP and imply a candidate’s endorsement here in Maine. I want to be clear on this: AARP is entirely nonpartisan. We do NOT endorse or oppose candidates or political parties! We do not give money to candidates and we do not have a Political Action Committee to support any candidate or party. We focus on the issues important to older Americans and encourage all candidates to voice their positions on those issues, so that all voters know exactly what candidates will do if elected.

What issues are those? Social Security for one. It is our bread-and-butter issue, and for many of our members, it is literally their bread and butter. Social Security must be preserved, especially for the almost 25 percent of Maine beneficiaries 65-and-over who depend on Social Security for 90 percent of their income.

What else do we fight for? Protecting and strengthening Medicare, which provides affordable health care for almost 300,000 older Mainers. Hard-working Mainers pay into the program their entire working lives and are guaranteed coverage that help make health care accessible and affordable.

Along with Medicare, we are fighting to lower prescription drug prices. Too many Mainers struggle to afford their life-saving medications while the pharmaceutical companies line their pockets. While we have made progress in Augusta, we need Washington to do more to reduce out of control drug prices.

How do we win on those issues? Through the power of our members’ votes. Voting is what counts. We stand by our members and fight for issues important to those ages 50 and over, and their families.

We are not just bipartisan. We are nonpartisan. We fight for issues, not candidates. We make sure candidates know about the issues that our members passionately care about and we will work with any elected official who will fight for these issues, too.

And our members vote. In 2016, over 80 percent of Mainers 65+ voted compared to the national average of 71 percent. As you can see, our members are serious about making their voices heard. We’re a fierce defender of age 50+ voters in Maine.

We work hard at the Maine State House on other issues, too. We push for things such as long-term care services and supports so we can age in our own homes; increased affordable housing; fair utility rates; improving access to retirement options for those without any, to name just a few.

And did I mention fighting for improved high-speed internet affordability and access? As part of a broad coalition we, with the help of our close to 230,000 members, pushed for support of a broadband referendum during the July primary and 75 percent of Maine voters supported the measure. Because of the impact of our many members, we make a positive difference.

About the ads I mentioned above? We issued news releases and contacted the candidate’s campaigns’ to let everyone know that the ad was produced without the knowledge or consent of AARP.

If you see a political ad showing the AARP logo or implying our endorsement of a candidate, contact us a me@aarp.org. We need to know so we can preserve our independence as a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that fights for age 50+ Mainers.

Lori Parham
AARP Maine State Director, Portland


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