Government power supporters desperate to keep voters from having a say on cost of electric grid takeover
February 8, 2023
For immediate release
Contact: Willy Ritch 207-841-8400 | [email protected]
The campaign behind a plan to seize Maine’s electric grid and create a government-run power company filed a lawsuit against Maine’s Secretary of State this week in an attempt to keep Maine voters from having the final say on billions of dollars in new debt. Supporters of the Pine Tree Power campaign are trying to block a referendum that would require voter approval of any new government debt over $1 billion. Their proposal to seize the state’s electric utilities would generate an estimated $13.5 billion in debt.
The lawsuit, filed Monday in Superior Court in Augusta, seeks to overturn the Secretary of State’s decision to certify the No Blank Checks referendum proposal. Her decision to certify the signatures of tens of thousands of Mainers would put the referendum on the ballot this November. If it passes, any future government debt of over $1 billion would be subject to statewide voter approval.
Willy Ritch, executive director of the No Blank Checks campaign, said this isn’t the first time that Pine Tree Power supporters have tried to avoid voter approval for creating billions of dollars in new debt.
“It’s remarkable what lengths the Pine Tree Power crowd will go to in order to keep Mainers from voting on the $13 billion they want all of us to borrow,” Ritch said. “First they tried to rewrite their own plan to avoid voter approval of the debt they want to take on, then they begged voters to not sign the No Blank Checks petition. When that didn’t work, they then resorted to a frivolous lawsuit against state officials to try and block the referendum from even making it on the ballot where Maine voters would get to decide.”
The Secretary of State certified the No Blank Checks referendum petition late last month, then last weekend, Notary Publics who had notarized petitions began to get calls from someone impersonating No Blank Checks officials. The caller identified himself as “Alan” and said he was calling from the “No Blank Checks compliance department.” According to the Notaries who received a call, he appeared to be trying to dig up information that could be used against the Notaries or used in a lawsuit.
“It appears that Pine Tree Power supporters have resorted to prank calls to try and avoid having their proposed $13 billion debt subject to voter approval,” Ritch said. “These lawsuits and partisan political games are just a taste of what we would be in for if Pine Tree Power got control of our electric grid.”
Text of an email Ritch sent to Maine’s Secretary of State detailing the fake phone calls is below. The email was sent February 6.
Dear Secretary Bellows and Assistant Secretary Flynn:
We learned today that someone is calling Notary Publics and posing as either someone from Second Street Associates, the company we hired to help us collect signatures for the No Blank Checks referendum question, or as someone from the No Blank Checks campaign. The caller appears to be targeting Mainers who provided notarial services for the campaign and claims to be calling to make sure the notaries had been fully paid for their services. The calls are taking place today, Sunday, February 5, 2023. The caller identifies himself as Alan and the number he is calling from is 207-464-4579.
To our knowledge, the notaries contacted so far are:
The notaries reported the following to Second Street Associates:
Wallace was called by the same number multiple days. He answered on 2/5 and the person identified themselves as Alan from No Blank Checks. He said they were doing compliance and ensuring that Wallace was paid correctly. Said they thought people hadn’t been paid out to completion. He also identified himself as being with Second Street throughout the call. Bradley let him know he needed to call his boss to ensure the call was legitimate.
Cousins Received a call from “Alan” from No Blank Checks on 2/5. Alan said he was with compliance and they wanted to ensure he was paid to completion. Chris states he has been. He also asked if he had done any other work with us. Chris responded no, just notary work. He ended the call at that point.
Letellier received a call from “Alan” from No Blank Checks on 2/5. Alan said he was with compliance and they wanted to ensure he was paid to completion. Kim stated she has been. He also asked if she had done any other work with us. Kim responded no, just notary work. She ended the call at that point.
Bartley received a call from “Alan” from No Blank Checks on 2/5. He was also told he was from compliance and asking if he had been paid to completion because they thought people hadn’t been paid out in full. Neal let him know according to his books he was paid in full. The call was ended at that point.
I called the number being used for these calls in an attempt to get the caller to stop misrepresenting themselves but no one answered.
This activity is a harassment of Maine citizens involved in a constitutionally protected democratic process. These prank phone calls show how little respect the people behind it seem to have for the referendum process.
We hope that your office or the Attorney General would be able to take immediate and decisive action to determine the responsible parties and order that they immediately cease and desist from these fraudulent activities.
No Blank Check BQC