Democratic Gov. Janet Mills on Wednesday vetoed a bill aimed at prohibiting foreign influence in Maine elections, but voters will get the final say if the veto is sustained by lawmakers next week.
Mills said in a statement that she had concerns about the constitutionality of the bill and feared the language was so broad it could silence ‘legitimate voices, including Maine-based businesses.’ Mills vetoed a similar foreign electioneering ban in 2021.
The current bill was introduced after Quebec-owned Hydro-Quebec spent millions fighting a referendum in which voters rebuked a $1 billion transmission line project aimed at bringing the Canadian company’s hydropower to the New England power grid.
State law bans foreign nationals and companies from donating to candidates, but there is a loophole when it comes to referendums.
In her veto letter, the governor said she supports taking a stand against ‘dark money’ that influences elections, but she said the bill creates ‘a bureaucratic morass that will entrap and silence otherwise legitimate voices and undermine the fundamental American cornerstones of free speech and free press.’