Maine business should join effort to end foreign interference in our elections

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Warren Valdmanis is a partner at a Portland-based private equity business and a member of the Leadership Now Project. Fletcher Kittredge is founder and CEO of GWI, a Maine fiber infrastructure company.

Just two years ago, we in Maine celebrated two centuries of statehood — two centuries of Mainers making local decisions for ourselves. Maine has always had an independent streak, especially with regards to politics. While Maine enjoyed the third-highest voter turnout rate in the nation in 2020, it is also one of a shrinking number of purple states whose voters tend to chart an independent course. Sadly, that independence is increasingly endangered by an avalanche of outside influence and political spending.

Maine has a big problem with political spending. In Maine’s 2020 U.S. Senate election, outside groups and the campaigns spent nearly $200 million to influence the outcome, shattering Maine’s previous campaign spending records and diluting the voice of our voters. Perhaps more troubling still, Hydro-Quebec, a company solely owned by a foreign government, spent more than $22 million in support of the Central Maine Power corridor — you almost certainly saw the ads on television.