A few weeks ago, the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee held a public hearing on three bills to curb the influx of foreign campaign spending Maine has been subjected to recently, as the result of a loophole in Maine’s election law exposed by Hydro-Quebec. I participated in the hearings along with dozens of concerned Mainers who would like to see this dangerous loophole closed immediately.

Through 2020, Hydro-Quebec — a Crown Corporation owned 100% by a foreign government — spent a record-breaking $10 million to influence Maine voters, and this year, it has only ramped up the spending. Hydro-Quebec has managed to do this despite the fact that foreign interference is illegal in state and federal elections by flouting a weakness in Maine law, and now it’s urging Maine lawmakers to leave the floodgates open, even though this sort of spending is illegal in Quebec.

In addition to skirting our election laws, Hydro-Quebec in 2020 violated Maine campaign finance laws by  filing a late disclosure of $100,000 in spending to influence Maine voters. For this violation, it was assessed a $35,000 fine, which is the second-largest penalty the Maine Ethics Commission ever assessed.

Thankfully, recent polling data shows that Mainers haven’t been fooled by Hydro-Quebec’s (and Central Maine Power’s) expensive and pervasive ads. I ask people to urge lawmakers to pass LDs 194 and 479 to safeguard Maine referendums for Mainers and, if the Legislature fails to act on the petition signed by over 80,000 Mainers to stop the project — sending the question to referendum — we must vote yes this November to reject the CMP corridor.

Sandi Howard, director

Say NO to NECEC, Caratunk

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