Your paper recently printed a column by my Republican colleague Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham endorsing a referendum effort called Protect Maine Elections. I would like to thank him for his support of this effort and express my support for this common-sense initiative as well.
Maine law contains a shocking loophole that allows foreign governments to influence Maine policy through expenditures on referendum questions. Federal law does not allow these governments to contribute funds to the elections of lawmakers, so it is astounding that we allow them to directly influence the making of laws through referendum electioneering.
The inconsistency in our law regarding foreign government expenditures was brought to light when Hydro-Quebec, a corporation that is 100 percent owned by the government of Quebec, started spending money to influence a citizen initiative long before it was certain to go to ballot. Hydro-Quebec was willing to spend tens of millions on our election in order to profit and to send those profits back to its taxpayers. There was so much advertisement noise funded by this government entity, it almost completely drowned out the voices of real Maine people on both sides. In order to have a strong society, we must be able to hear each other.
Regardless of how you voted on Question 1 last November, I hope that you will agree with Rep. Faulkingham and me that foreign government entities should not be permitted to electioneer in our state. We should count ourselves lucky that the only foreign government to have exploited this loophole so far has been Canadian. We cannot leave ourselves vulnerable to the risk that hostile governments will exploit it in the future.
The consequences of inaction on this issue of national security are dire to our democratic republic. Let’s become the 13th state to protect our elections from undue foreign influence. You can help us get this important issue on the ballot by signing a petition circulated by a Protect Maine Elections volunteer or join the hundreds of Mainers like me who are collecting signatures. To learn more about the effort and how to get involved, please visit protectmaineelections.com.
Rep. Nicole Grohoski