On Thursday, the federal district court in Maine granted a group of corporate plaintiffs’ motions to temporarily block a historic ballot measure prohibiting foreign government-influenced corporations from unlimited spending in Maine state and local elections. Thursday’s ruling, which is only temporary, will stop this important protection from going into effect while a full legal challenge is pending in court, but is not a final determination.

Free Speech For People will continue to support Maine as it defends the law so that the state can protect its elections and preserve its democratic self-government.

In November 2023, Maine voters passed by a resounding margin (86%) Question 2, a ballot measure prohibiting corporate political spending from foreign government-influenced corporations, defined as those with a foreign government investor owning 5% or more of corporate stock – a threshold at which a foreign government can influence corporate governance and decisions.  Federal law currently prohibits any spending by foreign governments, individuals, or entities on U.S. elections. The Supreme Court has upheld this law, but a loophole now allows a corporation registered in the United States with significant foreign ownership to spend money on federal, state, and local elections. Maine’s law, once it is allowed to go into effect, will close this gap for its own elections.

The law was slated to go into effect on January 5, 2024, but corporations and others sued to block it even before Maine had an opportunity to defend the law at trial. The parties agreed to push enforcement back to March 1, 2024, until the court had an opportunity to address the case. While it is disappointing that the court has granted the preliminary injunction, the law has not been struck down. The preliminary injunction simply preserves the status quo pending a full trial on the merits. After full merits proceedings, including testimony from experts on corporate governance, we expect the court to uphold the constitutionality of the provision.

Free Speech For People, joined by Peter J. Brann of the Maine law firm Brann & Isaacson, filed an amicus brief in support of the Maine law. 


Read the ruling here.