CMP’s political group says employees have been focused by impersonating calls
AUGUSTA, Maine — Notaries who labored for the political arm of Central Maine Energy Co. have been focused by Sunday calls from an individual who pretended to be a higher-up on its referendum marketing campaign, the group stated in a grievance to state officers.
The incident added intrigue to a uncooked battle over dueling questions that certified for the November poll final month. Opponents of CMP are attempting to get voters to authorize a quasi-state takeover of Maine’s main electrical utilities, whereas the CMP-backed query would pressure yet one more vote on borrowing the billions wanted to purchase out the infrastructure.
The calls allegedly got here at some point earlier than consumer-owned utility backers sued the state in an effort to take away the CMP-backed query from the poll. The caller appears to have been asking questions aimed toward invalidating sufficient signatures from registered voters to kill the referendum.
“This exercise is a harassment of Maine residents concerned in a constitutionally protected democratic course of,” Willy Ritch, a Democratic operative who runs two CMP-backed political teams, stated in a grievance to Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, a Democrat.
Andrew Blunt, the chief director of Our Energy, the political group advocating for the quasi-state utility takeover, stated he was not conscious of anybody on his facet making the calls, which he known as “very unusual.”
A spokesperson for Legal professional Basic Aaron Frey, a Democrat, stated the workplace doesn’t touch upon investigations however that it usually responds to a lot of these requests by in search of legal exercise that it will prosecute if the crime was election-related.
Notaries are employed by Maine referendum campaigns to assist certify the petitions that carry the signatures of Maine voters wanted to qualify for the poll. They generally work for various campaigns — even rival ones — over the course of an election cycle.
4 notaries who labored for the CMP-backed group pushing the poll query obtained calls on Sunday from a person describing himself as “Alan,” an worker of an organization engaged on the drive, Ritch’s grievance says. In every case, he allegedly requested if the notaries had been absolutely paid after which requested three of them if they’d carried out every other work for the marketing campaign.
If they’d stated sure, that data could possibly be essential. When Bellows certified the CMP-led query for the poll, she invalidated almost 2,900 signatures as a result of the notaries who helped certify them had carried out different providers for the marketing campaign, which is barred by state legislation.
It’s unclear who “Alan” was. His cellphone quantity shouldn’t be listed and results in a generic voicemail inbox. A message left by a reporter was not instantly returned on Wednesday.
One of many notaries, Lewiston-based Christopher Cousins, stated he instantly acknowledged the calls as a “rip-off,” since he had just one level of contact with the marketing campaign. He stated nothing like this had ever occurred to him throughout work round politics or anything.
“I’ve by no means been questioned relating to my notarial acts, ever,” he stated.
However Cousins discovered the decision particularly unusual as a result of the individual knew that Kim Letelier, one other notary who obtained a name, was his girlfriend and enterprise accomplice. They’ve labored for a number of different campaigns not too long ago, together with the Our Energy referendum drive. Blunt stated he has by no means interacted with the 2 notaries, who solely did a small variety of these petitions.
The marketing campaign is being largely fueled by cash from CMP’s mum or dad firm. The corporate has been accountable for nearly all the $12 million raised by means of December’s finish by No Clean Checks and Maine Inexpensive Power, two teams run by Ritch working to help the borrowing query and oppose the consumer-owned utility query, respectively.
Our Energy is fronting the marketing campaign on a trigger lengthy championed within the Legislature by former state Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, who now works for the group. It raised $550,000 by the top of 2022.