Independent Rep. Jeffrey Evangelos is not too happy about the Maine attorney general’s decision not to look into the meetings Gov. Paul LePage had with the Constitutional Coalition last year.
The much-discussed meetings ended abruptly after LePage determined that he and the group did not “see eye to eye,” according to the governor’s staff. But the odd (to say the least) views of the group — as well as several extremist statements they’ve made in writing and over the airwaves — have become a flash point for controversy.
One member of the group told listeners of the Aroostook Watchmen radio show that LePage and the group discussed hanging House Speaker Mark Eves and Senate President Justin Alfond, both Democrats, for treason. LePage and several other members of the group say that never happened.
Still, the comment about hanging got traction last week, and Evangelos asked the attorney general’s office to investigate what happened during the more than 10 hours of meetings LePage held with the group. On Friday, the AG said she would not investigate because LePage’s Executive Protection Unit — sworn law enforcement officers charged with protecting the governor — was present for the meetings and did not see fit to follow-up on anything discussed at the time.
In an email to Attorney General Janet Mills on Friday, Evangelos said that wasn’t good enough.
“Have these officers been questioned?” Evangelos wrote. “Are you taking [LePage press secretary Adrienne Bennett’s] or Governor LePage’s word for this? Did anyone identify the officers in question? Do these officers owe their loyalty and job security to LePage? How can you possibly reach such a narrow conclusion based on such a flimsy investigative effort?”
Still, it doesn’t appear likely that Mills, a Democrat, will investigate. Here’s her response to Evangelos:
“Jeff, our information is not from political sources but from law enforcement. I really can’t say any more, as it is simply not our custom to comment publicly on requests for investigations or on investigations themselves.”
Eliot Cutler’s ‘Property Tax Roadshow’
Independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler is putting a lot at stake with his property tax reduction plan. The plan would increase the state’s homestead exemption from $10,000 to $50,000, up to 50 percent of the assessed value of any Maine home. The proposal would lower property taxes between 20 and 40 percent for the average Maine homeowner, he says.
“More than any other tax, property taxes increasingly place a disproportionate and regressive burden on particularly vulnerable groups of Mainers,” Cutler said in a prepared statement. “Seniors on fixed incomes, students in underfunded schools, farmers who are pushed off their land and fishermen who are driven from the shore are all among the casualties of Maine’s growing dependence on property taxes.”
Cutler would pay for the homestead exemption increase with a seasonal increase on the sales tax, which he said will largely affect people from out-of-state during Maine’s busy tourist season, or a smaller year-round increase.
Now, Cutler is taking his property tax plan on tour, with 16 stops scheduled already from York to Bangor. His campaign is also accepting request for additional stops.
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Shenna Bellows has won the endorsement of two major women’s groups, Feminist Majority and the National Organization for Women PAC. The NOW PAC boasts a membership of roughly a half-million supporters across the country, while Feminist Majority helped pass the Violence Against Women Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act and other laws.
Maine Conservation Voters has released an early list of endorsed candidates for the Maine Legislature. Included are 15 candidates for Senate, all Democrats, and 59 candidates for House — 53 Democrats, four unenrolleds and two Republicans. Click here for the full list.
7 stories you need to read
It was the week leading into a holiday, so you’d be forgiven for not catching all the biggest news last week. Here’s a handy list to get you caught up.
- Charlie: Why the killing of young, gay man in Bangor 30 years ago still matters (BDN) — Today is the 30-year anniversary of the killing of Charlie Howard, who was 23 when he was thrown off a bridge by three teenagers in the Queen City. The BDN takes a look at Charlie, his death, and his legacy. A must-read.
- Expert says radical Maine group that met with LePage ‘not terrorists,’ but still worrisome (BDN) — You would have had to have been cut off from #mepolitics news entirely to miss the revelation last week by liberal activist Mike Tipping that Gov. Paul LePage held several meetings with anti-government extremists in 2013. Here, an expert weighs in on the group.
- Maine Municipal Association to sue state over General Assistance controversy (BDN) — LePage’s administration has decided to unilaterally change policy on General Assistance, barring towns and cities from giving aid to undocumented immigrants as well as applicants for asylum or refugee status. Citing questions about the lack of process in changing the rules and Constitutional concerns, MMA is asking the Superior Court to weigh in.
- Bellows calls for the wealthy to pay more into Social Security to help neediest recipients (BDN) — The headline says it all.
- Maine to begin implementing EBT photo requirement statewide (BDN) — Despite federal regulators urging caution and warning of potentially costly repercussions, DHHS has begun requiring photo identification on the more than 220,000 EBT cards throughout the state.
- Ethics panel to investigate claims by Democratic Maine Senate primary loser Steve Woods that party leaders ‘conspired’ against him (The Forecaster) — The saga of Steve Woods — once a gubernatorial candidate, then a Maine Senate contender — continues.
- Does Mary Mayhew want to be Governor of Maine? (Press Herald) — Steve Mistler reports on whispers that the embattled commissioner of DHHS has her eyes on the Blaine House in 2018.