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Opponents Of Transmission Line Project Say CMP Group Hired A Private Investigator To Monitor Them

Maine Public File

Opponents of a controversial transmission line are condemning a Central Maine Power political action committee for hiring a private investigator to monitor their efforts to scuttle the project via ballot initiative.

Meanwhile, the director of the CMP PAC says the investigator's findings raise questions about whether opponents have violated state law in their attempt to qualify for the November ballot.

The controversy centers on corridor opponents' efforts to get enough signatures to make the November ballot.

Secretary of State Matt Dunlap announced Wednesday that the campaign reached the qualifying threshold, but also noted that CMP's PAC had submitted information suggesting that opponents may have violated a law that prohibits people involved with ballot campaigns from also notarizing ballot petitions. Dunlap said his office could not investigate the allegations and meet its deadline to certify the ballot petition.

Some of CMP's PAC findings were made public Thursday and included an affidavit by a private investigator who surveilled an anti-corridor campaign office in Portland and alleges that a woman involved in the campaign also notarized multiple petitions.

Jonathan Breed, director of CMP's Clean Energy Matters PAC, said Thursday that the findings signal broader problems with the anti-corridor campaign and an out-of-state firm that paid signature gatherers.

CMP's PAC could petition superior court to halt certification of the referendum, and it has 10 days from Thursday to do so.

Meanwhile, Sandra Howard of the lead anti-corridor group called the hiring of a private investigator "horrifying" and a "new low in Maine politics."

Howard also called on CMP executive Director David Flanagan to denounce its PACs tactics.

Originally published March 5, 2020 at 5:46 p.m. ET.