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Hydro-Quebec Ballot Question Committee Pays $35k Ethics Fine

Robert F. Bukaty
In this Tuesday, May 28, 2019 photo power lines span the Androscoggin River in Auburn, Maine.

A ballot question committee representing the Canadian energy company Hydro-Quebec has paid a nearly $35,000 fine for the late disclosure of campaign activity in Maine.

Hydro-Quebec's ballot question committee was formed last fall in an effort to save a $1 billion transmission project through western Maine.

The future of the project could be determined by Maine voters in November, and Hydro-Quebec, which would supply the power, has signaled that it will be involved in the campaign. But its ballot committee ran afoul of the Maine Ethics Commissionfor not disclosing $100,000 in campaign activity until several weeks after it was required to.

Hydro-Quebec had the option of seeking a waiver, but decided to pay the fine instead.

The company is facing additional scrutiny because its sole shareholder is the government of Quebec, raising questions about foreign influence in a Maine election. 

There is no state law prohibiting such activity, but independent state Rep. Kent Ackley is attempting to submit a bill that would close the loophole.

Originally published Jan. 29, 2019 at 3:19 p.m. ET.

Journalist Steve Mistler is Maine Public’s chief politics and government correspondent. He is based at the State House.