Monday, June 6, 2016

LePage versus the Natural Resources Council of Maine

     Paul LePage, Republican governor of the state of Maine, bragged on the campaign trail that he would bring business solutions to the state's problems. He had been the chief executive of Marden's, a salvage outlet store known for the deals on cheap merchandise it offered its customers. Maine, of course, is known for its merchandise outlet stores. The competition is cutthroat. No doubt LePage viewed governing the state in the same way he governed his business. Certainly, his tactics show what happens when the people elect a businessman to high public office. A little more than a year ago he came under fire for threatening the Board of Trustees of the Goodwill-Hinckley School that he would withhold special state funding for the school if they chose Mark Eves as their next head, as they had announced they would do. LePage's motive? Eves was the Speaker of the House in the Maine State Legislature, a Democrat. Goodwill-Hinckley caved, and Eves sued the Governor--and lost. LePage claimed Executive Privilege and the courts bought it.

   LePage's latest tactic against his opponents was to send a letter to the top 200 donors to the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM), an environmental group. LePage had previously gotten up a "Wanted" poster (right) depicting a NRCM staffer above the words "Job Killers." LePage's letter attacked the NRCM and intended to intimidate the donors, but of course it had the opposite effect. The NRCM publicized LePage's gaffe, noted that the letter was financed illegally by taxpayers' money, and last week announced that because the flap over the letter was resulting in more donations, not fewer, the NRCM was going to copy LePage's letter and send it out to all 20,000 of its donors.

     Thankfully, the Governor will be termed out in a couple of years, but for now the state of Maine is stuck with LePage, who has shown its citizens what it's like to be governed by a businessman, not a public servant.

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