Gov. Paul LePage is not shy about telling people what he thinks of them and nearly midway through his second term, he’s establishing a legacy as a governor whose pen can be as sharp as his tongue.
On Friday, LePage wrote a letter to the Humane Society of the United States, taking the organization to task for its release of a video showing allegedly squalid conditions at a Maine egg farm.
“Your tactics to try to uncover wrongdoing are deplorable in this case,” wrote LePage.
Those are stern words from a sitting governor but under LePage’s pen, that tone is the norm. Here is a brief history of some of the results of LePage putting words on paper.
- Earlier this month, LePage sent a letter to about 200 supporters of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, urging them to stop supporting what he called the “job-crushing, anti-business” organization.
- In March of this year, after Madison Paper Industries announced its impending closure, LePage wrote a letter to Senate President Mike Thibodeau and House Speaker Mark Eves about energy costs, taxes and regulations that he says are driving away Maine businesses. “When is the Legislature going to wake up?” he wrote.
- In February of this year, frustrated with the Legislature, LePage skipped the traditional annual delivery of the State of the State Address and instead wrote a letter. “The Legislature has already wasted so much time over the past year and with Mainers dying every day from the drug crisis, now is not the time to let pageantry distract you from your important work,” wrote the governor, attempting to justify his decision to skip delivery of the speech.
- In October of last year, LePage wrote to Republican Sen. Roger Katz amid an investigation of LePage by the Government Oversight Committee, which Katz chairs but which unanimously authorized the investigation. “You are so invested in a negative outcome that you all too eagerly traded away your neutrality and objectivity long ago,” wrote LePage.
- “Sadly deficient” skills in “conflict resolution, leadership, negotiation and reconciliation.” That’s how LePage referred to Eves in a scathing June 2015 letter opposing Eves’ hiring by Good Will-Hinckley. “He has not been an honest broker with me on issues that are of great importance to the people of Maine,” wrote LePage.
- There was an even more infamous letter by LePage in the Eves/Good Will-Hinckley controversy, though it no longer exists. In a handwritten letter to Hinckley Board Chairman Jack Moore, which Moore says he discarded, LePage called Eves a “hack.”
- On Earth Day in April 2015, LePage wrote a letter to President Barack Obama, opposing the concept of a new national park in Maine. “While I remain governor, a national park is not welcome in this state,” he wrote.
- “I have lost faith in his ability to lead Maine’s soldiers and airmen who serve so proudly in the National Guard. Effective immediately, I have relieved him of his command.” That’s LePage explaining in writing to Maine National Guard members why he opted to fire Adjutant General James Campbell abruptly in March 2015.
- LePage has raised eyebrows and outright offended some in hundreds of veto letters since he took office. One that he wrote in April of this year in opposition to a bill that has increased access to the overdose-reversing drug known as Naloxone made national headlines. “Naloxone does not truly save lives; it merely extends them until the next overdose,” wrote LePage.
- In July 2015, LePage penned one of his more memorable quotes in response to a woman who asked him to resign. “I bet you would like to see me resign,” wrote LePage to the woman, a Cape Elizabeth librarian, in a handwritten note. “You live in the south, who exploit those who are not so fortunate, or understand the level of corruption that southern Mainers ignore and welcome!”
- In August 2015, LePage wrote a flurry of letters to town officials in Cumberland in defense of Republican Rep. Mike Timmons and his votes against a bill that would have limited the governor’s authority in selling — or holding back — voter-approved bonds. “I object to wealthy special interest groups who would rather take more land off the tax rolls than help the neediest Mainers stay warm in the winter,” wrote LePage to the Maine Coast Heritage Trust.
- LePage has at times written letters to apologize for things he said. In July 2015 he wrote a letter to a Bangor teenager Nick Danby after saying in a speech, with Danby present, that he’d like to shoot Danby’s father, BDN cartoonist George Danby.
- LePage has used letters to make major announcements. In December 2015, he told lawmakers in a letter that he’d changed his mind about issuing $5 million in conservation bonds he’d been blocking on and off for years.
LePage, who distrusts the media, hasn’t held a question-and-answer press conference in months and in public appearances has told reporters that questions would have to go through his communications staff. He has resorted to holding a series of town hall events across Maine — and weekly radio appearances — to deliver his opinions. Those tactics, along with his letter-writing, allow him to say what he wants to say without having to respond to questions.
That’s why we can expect the letters to continue flying during his final years in office.