4/12/21 Press Release

ICYMI: No CMP Corridor PAC Testifies in Support of LD 1278, "An Act To End the Maine Information and Analysis Center Program"

ICYMI: Today, No CMP Corridor PAC Principal Officer and Say No to NECEC Non-profit Director Sandi Howard testified in support of LD 1278, An Act To End the Maine Information Analysis Center Program. Her testimony in written format is below.

Good morning Senator Deschambault, Representative Warren, and members of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, my name is Sandra Howard. I’m the Principal Officer of the No CMP Corridor PAC and the Director of Say No to NECEC, a 501 C3 that was formed by concerned citizens to oppose the destructive CMP Corridor project. I’m here today to testify in support of LD 1278, An Act To End the Maine Information Analysis Center Program.

In 2018, a group of grassroots activists affiliated with Say No to NECEC participated in a peaceful protest against the New England Clean Energy Connect project, otherwise known as the Corridor, in Augusta at the State House complex. We obtained the necessary permit for the event, followed all laws and rules for State House grounds, and then went on our way. We have since learned, through a whistleblower at the State Police, that the Maine Information Analysis Center (MIAC) monitored our protest, collected information on the attendees, and shared that file with Central Maine Power, the for-profit company behind the wildly unpopular project. Coincidentally, or not, a CMP representative serves on the advisory board for MIAC.

Dana Connors, president of the Maine Chamber of Commerce, an organization actively supporting the project, also receives information on law-abiding Mainers since he is included on MIAC’s email list which is used to share “situational awareness reports.” This close coordination between law enforcement and private interests is disturbing, to say the least.

Opponents of the CMP Corridor have become accustomed to Central Maine Power’s shady practices in the promotion of their for-profit project. In 2019 and 2020, during the first signature gathering effort, Central Maine Power’s PAC paid a private investigator at least $50,000 to spy on private citizens involved with signature collection. This effort included photos and detailed reports that were used by the company in an effort to discredit its opponents, and invalidate signatures gathered by Maine voters for the referendum. The subsequent report released by CMP included detailed accounts of the spy following a young woman who served as a notary. The report reveals that he watched her through windows, took photos of her, and even contacted her place of employment. He harassed this Maine resident, in a clear violation of her privacy, on behalf of Central Maine Power, for simply doing the job she was hired to do. Fortunately, the Secretary of State did not give credence to the bizarre report, finding that the notary did absolutely nothing wrong.

The company also, at the beginning of the pandemic during the lockdown order, paid to have illegitimate subpoenas issued in person to a handful of others who assisted with the referendum effort, primarily as volunteers, in an attempt to compel them to visit their attorney’s law office, potentially exposing themselves and their families to the virus, against the Governor’s executive order. And just a few months ago, I had to appear before the Maine Ethics Commission after CMP filed a bogus complaint against me, a volunteer, for not disclosing the compensation that I must have received to oppose their project. During the hearing, their attorney, Newell Auger, testified that in my case, the lack of evidence of wrongdoing was in fact evidence that I had done something wrong. Fortunately, the Commission swiftly dismissed the complaint, which was nothing more than a scare tactic by CMP, a foreign-owned corporation, against myself, a concerned raft guide trying to protect a special part of this state that I love.

The truly shocking part is that a division of the Maine State Police has provided this foreign-owned utility with video footage and information on law-abiding Maine citizens who have done absolutely nothing wrong. It is sad that a public utility company with monopoly status to serve Maine customers would engage in these practices to promote a project it stands to make billions on, but we’ve come to expect this sort of behavior from the lowest rated utility in the nation.

This information sharing extends well beyond the CMP Corridor project, and it is happening without the knowledge or consent of those being surveilled. No CMP Corridor and Say NO to NECEC fail to see how this practice is keeping Mainers safe, which is why we would urge the Committee to support this legislation.

Thank you.

Respectfully submitted,

Sandra Howard

Principal Officer, No CMP Corridor PAC (volunteer)

Director, Say No to NECEC (volunteer)