Thursday, July 21, 2011

The LePage Files, Volume I

Maine Governor Paul LePage's regulatory reform agenda was created by lifting entire passages from memos received by favored lobbyists and industry groups, confidential administration dossiers reveal, suggesting he and his staff made little attempt to shape policies themselves.

The dossiers, obtained via a Freedom of Access Act request, also indicate some of the governor's priorities going forward, including measures targeting striking workers and Maine's participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Who wanted to weaken air quality standards? Who inserted language to reduce all environmental laws to the weaker federal standards? Who wants the same done with civil rights and restaurant tip sharing laws? These answers and many more are in my cover story in this week's Portland Phoenix.

I requested the documents back in March, after the governor's then-communications director, Dan Demeritt, refused to answer questions about the origins of controversial elements of the governor's infamous "Phase I" regulatory reform agenda, much of which was subsequently rejected by the Republican-controlled legislature. They provide a detailed look into how LePage formulates policy and whom he sees himself as representing, issues I've written about in two previous Phoenix stories, "LePage's Secret Bankers" and "LePage's Secret Puppeteers."

Also today, take note of the blistering accusations leveled against LePage by his commissioner for marine resources, who resigned after allegedly being ordered to please discrete interests in the industry. Among the serious charges is that LePage refused to help groundfishermen because they are concentrated in Portland, a city that is "against me," and proposed creating another port somewhere else in the state. (Maine media watchers will not be surprised to learn the Sun Journal's Steve Mistler broke this story as well.)
[Update, 7/21/2011, 1358: Maine's Majority -- seeing a thematic link between these two stories -- has put out this press release charging "LePage must answer" for his cozy relationships at his Dover-Foxcroft "capital for a day" event.]

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