April 04, 2020
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Hydro-Quebec pays $35K ethics fine stemming from effort to save Maine corridor

Robert F. Bukaty | AP
Robert F. Bukaty | AP
This Tuesday, May 28, 2019 photo shows the view of Attean Pond from a roadside rest area in Jackman, Maine. Central Maine Power's controversial hydropower transmission corridor would in the vicinity of this view. It would extend 53 miles from the Canadian border into Maine's north woods. CMP would clear a 150-foot swath of land 7 to 12 miles from this viewpoint.

AUGUSTA, Maine — A political committee representing Hydro-Quebec in a campaign to rescue the proposed Central Maine Power corridor from a referendum challenge was fined nearly $35,000 after admitting a late financial disclosure.

The committee representing Hydro-Quebec was formed in November to oppose a potential referendum on a proposed hydropower corridor that would cut through western Maine. But financial disclosures showed that it spent nearly $100,000 prior to registering with the Maine Ethics Commission, a violation of state campaign finance laws.

The committee has paid the fine in full, the Maine Ethics Commission confirmed on Wednesday. The penalty was calculated under a formula set by state statute. It is the largest campaign finance fine since 2017, when backers of a failed casino referendum were initially fined $500,000 over late reports, though the penalty was later reduced to $100,000.

In a Wednesday statement, Hydro-Quebec said it was “unfamiliar with certain procedures” when it created the committee and would comply with reporting and disclosure rules in the future. The complaint against Hydro-Quebec was filed by Rep. Kent Ackley, I-Monmouth, on Jan. 10.

Hydro-Quebec is one of several committees formed to address a potential ballot question on the $1 billion corridor that would bring its power from Canada to the New England energy grid. Central Maine Power poured $2.3 million into its own committee opposing the referendum during the last quarter of 2019.

Supporters of a referendum have until Feb. 3 to collect enough signatures to get on the November ballot. One of the groups supporting the referendum, a nonprofit called Stop the Corridor, is facing its own campaign finance complaint after giving nearly $50,000 in in-kind contributions to another committee registered with the state.

 


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