The provincial-owned utility is bringing on three veteran Maine operatives to expand its messaging operation around the Central Maine Power corridor. Hydro-Quebec has been employing Forbes Tate Partners, a Washington, D.C., lobbying shop, since last year to gauge support for the $1 billion corridor project that has been the subject of a long public-relations campaign. The firm expanded this month by signing on three Maine operatives among seven new hires on the effort, according to federal filings first reported by Foreign Lobby.
They include former George W. Bush administration official Kathie Summers-Grice of Cumberland, former Maine Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason and Crystal Canney, who was a spokesperson for Sen. Angus King and Gov. John Baldacci. Mason is the only one of those three who indicated he will be working full-time on the effort.
Much of Hydro-Quebec’s spending must be disclosed to state campaign finance regulators, but only that which explicitly deals with the campaign on an anti-corridor referendum question set for the 2021 ballot. Other activity in support of the project must be disclosed to the federal government since Hydro-Quebec is a foreign entity.
It also comes as Maine lawmakers consider three bills aimed at keeping foreign entities from spending money to influence elections. Sen. Rick Bennett, R-Oxford, a top corridor opponent who is sponsoring one of those proposals, said the hiring of new operatives made clear that the Legislature must close a “gaping loophole.”