By Ramona du Houx

March 10, 2021

On Monday, March 15, the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee will hold a public hearing at 9:00 AM on two bills to prohibit foreign contributions in Maine referendum elections.

Central Maine Power lobbied and advertised on behalf of Hydro Quebec to push through the electric corridor, which violates laws.

What: Public hearing for LD194: An Act To Prohibit Contributions, Expenditures and Participation by Foreign Government-owned Entities To Influence Referenda and LD 479: An Act To Ban Foreign Campaign Contributions and Expenditures in Maine Elections

  • Hydro Quebec (HQ) funneled an unprecedented $9.2 million into their PAC last year.
  • Federal law prohibits this sort of foreign interference in elections, but HQ has discovered a loophole in Maine, and they’re exploiting it to encourage Mainers on how to vote on the CMP “energy corridor.”
  • This sort of foreign interference is also illegal in Canada.
  • HQ is a Crown Corporation solely owned by the Province of Quebec. Each year, they share billions in dividends with the government as their sole shareholder. 
  • Last year, HQ was assessed a $35k fine last year by ethics after pleading guilty to spending $100k to influence Maine voters before registering as a PAC, a clear violation of Maine’s campaign law. This fine is the second-largest campaign violation fine in our state’s history.
  • After facing scrutiny, HQ changed their PAC address from Montreal to Hartford, CT in an attempt to seem less foreign. The treasurer and Principal Officer still remain in Montreal.
  • Last year, HQ misused images of Baxter State Park, a Maine treasure, in an ad that was strongly rebuked by Friends of Baxter State Park.
  • While spending tens of millions of dollars to influence Maine voters and lawmakers, HQ has never provided verifiable evidence about their environmental claims regarding NECEC.
  • HQ has exposed a weakness in Maine’s election law that needs to be fixed. Today, it’s the government of Quebec. But now that they’ve shown that this loophole exists and they’ve gotten away with exploiting it, they’ve set a dangerous precedent for referendums to come.

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