By: Connor Skelly
A fight over an electrical transmission line in the Great North Woods has ignited a firestorm around the ability of foreign government owned corporations to spend money on electioneering in the state of Maine, with implications that could stretch all the way back to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.
LD 194 was passed by the Maine Legislature in the wake of Hydro-Quebec, a company that is solely owned by Quebec’s provincial government, spending $10 million dollars on campaigning against a referendum that would have halted the constructed of a 145-mile transmission line that would bring the company’s electricity into Maine. While entities owned by foreign governments are already prohibited by both federal and Maine law from contributing money to candidates, a loophole still exists that allows them to contribute money in Maine’s popular referendums. LD 194 was meant to close this loophole. The bill prohibited companies with 10% or more ownership by foreign governments from contributing money in any Maine election, including referendums.