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“Just Ask Me To Leave, You Don’t Have To Impeach Me”: LePage Receives Plenty Of Letters Asking For His Resignation

Last summer, with the possibility of impeachment hanging over his head, Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) appeared on a radio show and said he’s prepared to give up his office – under the right conditions.

“If the people of Maine want me, I’ll do the job,” the Republican governor said. “If they don’t want me, just ask me to leave, you don’t have to impeach me.” LePage added that in his state of 1.3 million people, a grand total of four Mainers wrote to him, urging him to resign.

And that gave those of us here at The Rachel Maddow Show an idea. In fact, we filed a Freedom of Information Act request, asking the governor’s office how many other letters he may have received. Rachel explained on the show what happened next:

“We finally got the letters and a couple people did write to him. So, now, we know why it took so long. And this is just the letters, it turns out, that came in, in the first month, after Paul LePage asked for letters from the people from the state of Maine to tell him if they wanted him to resign.

“By our count, more than 1,800 people in Maine, just in that first month, did actually take the time to write to him and ask him to resign. Just in the first month after he asked. We don’t even have the letters that came in after the first month. This is just what came in, in that first month.

“And it’s interesting. Going through them, they are heartfelt letters, polite letters. There are a few rude letters. There’s a lot of hand-written letters. Most of them, though, are very short and polite and to the point.”

If you watch the segment, note the very large piles of paper – all of which show the letters LePage received in the first month after issuing the challenge.

All of which raises the question of what, exactly, the threshold might be for the governor. He told his constituents, “[J]ust ask me to leave.” Quite a few of them did.

How many letters would it take for LePage to follow through? We’re not sure, but if we find out, I’ll let you know.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, July 1, 2016

July 2, 2016 Posted by | Impeachment, Maine, Paul LePage | , , , , | Leave a comment

“Anecdotes With Made-Up Details”: Maine’s LePage Fails To Defend The Indefensible

It was the sort of story that made Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) look so awful, he managed to even surprise his critics. In mid-April, the far-right governor vetoed a bipartisan bill that would have allowed pharmacists to dispense an effective anti-overdose drug without a prescription. But it was LePage’s explanation that added insult to injury.

“Naloxone does not truly save lives; it merely extends them until the next overdose,” LePage said in a written statement. As we discussed at the time, the governor, in a rather literal sense, made the case that those struggling with opioid addiction don’t have lives worth saving.

Maine’s legislature soon after overrode LePage’s veto, but the governor recently hosted a town-hall meeting at which he defended his position. The Bangor Daily News reported:

“A junior at Deering High School had three Narcan shots in one week. And after the third one, he got up and went to class. He didn’t go to the hospital. He didn’t get checked out. He was so used to it. He just came out of it and went to class,” LePage said.

That’s quite an anecdote, which the Republican governor appears to have completely made up.

The Huffington Post reported yesterday that the principal at Deering High School described LePage’s story as “absolutely not true,” adding that the anecdote doesn’t even make sense – because Narcan isn’t available at the school.

On Monday, the governor again insisted the story was accurate, and pointed to Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck as someone who could verify the incident.

Soon after, Sauschuck also said every relevant detail of LePage’s story is wrong.

Circling back to our previous coverage, Naloxone – sometimes known by its brand name, Narcan – is a safe and effective life-saving treatment that counteracts overdoses. The point is not to cure someone of an addiction, but rather, to prevent them from dying.

The treatment is inexpensive; it’s easy to administer; and it’s harmless to others. Common sense suggests it should be readily available, especially in areas where the addiction crisis is especially acute.

LePage, however, said he’s principally concerned with not “perpetuating the cycle of addiction.” If that means more of his constituents will overdose and die, so be it.

And if defending this posture lead Maine’s Tea Party governor to share anecdotes with made-up details, apparently that’s all right, too.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 25, 2016

May 26, 2016 Posted by | Drug Addiction, Maine, Paul LePage | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Maine’s LePage Ready To Try Federal Policymaking”: Watching A Hindenberg-Level Disaster

By most measures, Maine Gov. Paul LePage’s (R) tenure hasn’t gone especially well. The Tea Party Republican, elected twice after an independent candidate split the center-left in both races, has generally earned a reputation as an offensive buffoon, whose antics often border on repulsive.

But as WMTW in Portland reported yesterday, the Maine governor is nevertheless ready for some kind of promotion.

Gov. Paul LePage hopes Donald Trump picks him to be part of his administration if he is elected to office.

If not, he’ll run against Angus King for U.S. Senate in 2018. That’s what the governor said at his town hall meeting in Lewiston on Wednesday night.

“I said earlier that if I’m not into the Trump Administration, I will be running against Angus King,” LePage reportedly said. “Now, don’t tell my wife. She hasn’t said yes yet.”

In other words, the Maine governor is so confident in his successes as a state policymaker, he’s ready to parlay his unique talents into shaping federal policy, too.

The Republican didn’t specify exactly which job he’d like to have in a Trump administration – LePage has no real areas of expertise – and the presumptive Republican nominee, who picked up the Maine governor’s endorsement in February, hasn’t publicly suggested he expects LePage to be part of his team.

And yet, the governor, perhaps tired of his current job and the frequency with which his many vetoes are overturned, is nevertheless daring to dream.

Of course, if Trump loses in November – or, as hard as this may seem to imagine, if a President Trump declines to offer LePage a powerful federal job in Washington – the Maine Republican will apparently turn his attention to Sen. Angus King’s (I) re-election bid in 2018.

As the Bangor Daily News reported this week, some progressive activists in Maine believe that would be a terrific idea.

“Your opponents deserve the delicious schadenfreude of watching the Hindenberg-level disaster that a LePage Senate campaign will deliver,” reads a new MoveOn.org petition.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Madddow Blog, May 6, 2016

May 7, 2016 Posted by | Angus King, Donald Trump, Maine, Paul LePage | , , , | 5 Comments

“Addicts Lives Don’t Matter”: LePage’s Callousness Takes An Ugly Turn, Even By LePage Standards

Maine Gov. Paul LePage’s (R) ridiculous antics have made him something of a national laughingstock in recent years, with many observers inclined to laugh at his clownish behavior. But occasionally, the far-right governor’s actions are more repulsive than funny.

The Portland Press Herald reported yesterday, for example, on a LePage position that’s likely to literally cost lives.

Gov. Paul LePage vetoed a bill Wednesday that would allow pharmacists to dispense an anti-overdose drug without a prescription, saying that allowing addicts to keep naloxone on hand “serves only to perpetuate the cycle of addiction.”

The Legislature passed the bill “under the hammer” – or unanimously without a roll call – this month as part of lawmakers’ attempts to address Maine’s growing opioid addiction epidemic.

In a statement explaining his rationale, the Republican governor argued, “Naloxone does not truly save lives; it merely extends them until the next overdose.”

Note, this was a written statement, not an off-the-cuff comment made during a press conference or an interview. LePage actually thought about his specific position, and argued that a life-saving drug treatment that prevents overdoes “merely extends” the lives of addicts – and he’s against that.

Maine’s governor, in a rather literal sense, made the case in writing that those struggling with opioid addiction don’t have lives worth saving. If LePage is convinced these people’s lives shouldn’t be extended, practically by definition, he’s making the case that their lives should be curtailed.

As long-time readers may recall, Naloxone – sometimes known by its brand name, Narcan – is a safe and effective life-saving treatment that prevents overdoses. It’s inexpensive; it’s easy to administer; and it’s harmless to others. Common sense suggests it should be readily available, especially in areas where the addiction crisis is especially acute.

And yet, Paul LePage is principally concerned with not “perpetuating the cycle of addiction.” If that means more of his constituents will overdose and die, so be it.

The Portland Press Herald’s article noted that the state legislation was actually recommended by CVS, which received a letter from Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), himself a former governor, “asking the chain to expand the availability of the antidote. The bill got support from both law enforcement and health organizations during the legislative hearing.”

It’s probably why the bill passed the legislature without objection. One would have to be callous to a frightening degree to object to such a proposal.

As for the next step, Maine’s legislature – the state House is led by Democrats, the state Senate is led by Republicans – will meet next week to consider overriding some of the bills vetoed by the governor. Don’t be surprised if this bill is among those that become law whether LePage likes it or not.
* Correction:  I’d originally identified Sen. Angus King as a Republican. This was a typo. The senator is, of course, an independent who caucuses with Senate Democrats.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 22, 2016

April 23, 2016 Posted by | Drug Addiction, Paul LePage, Public Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Just A Clownish Governor”: Paul LePage’s Latest Tantrum Is A Doozy, Even For Him

Susan Deschambault, a Maine Democrat, recently won a state Senate special election, and as part of the process, she was invited to Gov. Paul LePage’s (R) office for an official swearing-in ceremony. So, Deschambault and her family drove 72 miles, arriving at the governor’s office bright and early on Friday morning for her 9 a.m. appointment.

What she did not know, however, is that LePage preferred to throw a tantrum, refusing to swear Deschambault in because the far-right governor is mad at Democratic legislators. The Portland Press Herald reported:

Gov. Paul LePage abruptly canceled a swearing-in ceremony Friday morning for a newly elected senator in response to Democratic lawmakers’ votes against one of his nominees.

Senator-elect Susan Deschambault, a Democrat who won a special election Tuesday for the Senate District 32 seat representing the Biddeford area, showed up with her family at LePage’s office for her scheduled swearing-in at 8:50 a.m. only to be told the event had been canceled.

According to LePage’s spokesperson, the governor – a grown adult – was looking for payback. Apparently, the Republican nominated a conservative talk radio figure to serve on the Maine Unemployment Insurance Commission, but Democrats defeated the nomination last week.

The unhappy governor, in an “I’ll show you…” frame of mind, took out his frustrations on Deschambault, turning her and her family away when they showed up for the ceremonial event.

The newly elected Democrat reportedly thought this was some kind of April Fool’s joke, before realizing that LePage wasn’t kidding. He simply wouldn’t swear her in.

The Bangor Daily News ran a piece over the weekend, wondering what in the world LePage hoped to gain from this: “What was gained by refusing to swear in Susan Deschambault? Nothing. Literally nothing…. Now the story is about how a woman who won an election had her family travel to the capital to celebrate her accomplishment, only to have made the trip for nothing because of a partisan disagreement. How is this a win?”

The NBC affiliate in Portland reported yesterday that the governor’s office announced that the newly elected lawmaker will eventually be sworn in – when LePage feels like it.

Two days after the ceremony was postponed, Gov. LePage attended the opening of a store in Swanville. When asked whether or not the oath would happen, he answered, “Yeah, she’s going to be sworn in. But it’s not on her schedule. My schedule is a little busier than hers.”

When pressed further if he would be the person to administer the oath, he said, “Of course I am. You know, they kick you and beat you and slap you over the head. And then the very next morning at 8 o’clock, they’re there before you put your briefcase down, your cup of coffee on the desk, they want to be sworn in. She will be sworn in according to the laws of the Constitution of the State of Maine.”

In case you were wondering, Deschambault’s special-election victory did nothing to change the makeup of the chamber – the 35-member Maine Senate will still have a Republican majority, 20 to 15, even after she’s sworn in. In other words, there’s no legislative or policy reason to delay the process.

Rather, this is just a clownish governor throwing the latest in a series of tantrums, simply because he can.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 4, 2016

April 5, 2016 Posted by | Maine, Maine Legislature, Paul LePage | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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