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Initiative Revives Effort To Curb Foreign Influence In Maine Ballot Campaigns

Fred Bever
Maine Public

A bipartisan group of state lawmakers is launching a ballot initiative that aims to curb foreign influence in Maine ballot campaigns.

The proposal is similar to the bill that the Legislature enacted this year, but was ultimately vetoedby Democratic Gov. Janet Mills.

That bill would have barred corporations owned by foreign governments from electioneering in ballot campaigns, effectively closing a loophole that allows foreign governments and companies to influence Maine voters through advertising, even though they are prohibited by state and federal law from spending on candidate elections.

The proposal had bipartisan support, in part because it could have affected this year’s referendum aimed at scuttling the highly controversial transmission project by Central Maine Power.

Had it become law, Hydro-Quebec, owned entirely by the Quebec government, would have had to stop its influence campaign, which is close to $10 million so far.

Republican Sen. Rick Bennett and Democratic Rep. Kyle Bailey are part of the bipartisan group that has until January to qualify for next year's ballot.

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