LePage named fifth-most disliked governor in national poll

Good morning from Augusta, where the country’s fifth-most disliked governor resides, according to the latest poll from Morning Consult.

Gov. Paul LePage registered at 58 percent disapproval among Mainers in the latest survey conducted between May and September, which barely moved from the group’s past two surveys released in May 2016 and November 2015.

Only four governors — Republicans Sam Brownback of Kansas, Chris Christie of New Jersey and Rick Snyder of Michigan and Democrat Dan Malloy of Connecticut — had higher disapproval ratings than LePage.

Most of this survey was done before the governor’s latest controversy over remarks about black and Hispanic drug dealers and his profane voicemail to a Democratic legislator who criticized him, but LePage’s approval numbers have been pretty consistent over the years.

In biannual surveys from Critical Insights going back to 2011, he has ranged between 31 percent and 47 percent approval, most often falling within three points of 40 percent.

But he won re-election in 2014 with 47 percent of votes. Going into his last two years in office, it seems Mainers have gone to their corners on the governor’s performance, with more against him than with him. — Michael Shepherd

Maine ethics officials: Ban PACs from paying legislators who run them

Staff at the Maine Ethics Commission has floated changes to state law that would prohibit state legislators from paying themselves out of the coffers of political action committees that they run.

Now, PACs must be formed to spend certain sums to influence Maine elections. But once a committee is formed, there are no restrictions on where that money is spent.

Often, legislators run “leadership PACs,” which are aimed at helping party legislative campaigns or bolstering chances for leadership positions. Two legislators have gained attention over the last two years for paying themselves or family from the PACs that they run.

In 2014, Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting found that former Sen. John Tuttle, D-Sanford, paid himself and family $17,000 from his PAC, which was more than half the money it spent in the past six years.

This year, the group reported that Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland, paid herself more than $7,700 from her PAC, which also supported travel and food.

All of this was legal, but it could have hurt both at the ballot box: Tuttle was ousted by Republican David Woodsome of North Waterboro in 2014 and Russell lost a June primary for a Maine Senate seat to Rep. Ben Chipman, D-Portland.

The change, which would ban PAC payments to legislators or their family if the legislator is an officer or treasurer of that PAC, is part of a package of proposed laws that commission staff are presenting to commissioners at a Sept. 28 meeting.

If approved there, the Maine Legislature will likely consider them in the session starting in January. — Michael Shepherd

Quick hits

Reading list

Best of Maine’s Craigslist

  • Worst of Maine’s Craigslist: Craigslist can be helpful! It’s also a bad place with horrible people like this Down East man asking, “Hey ladies…..wondering how to pay to heat your home this winter?” The answer? “Adult companionship.”
  • This man, however, just wants to write letters: The title from this Massachusetts man is helpful: “I’m not looking for a threesome, just a correspondence.” This “enthusiastic urban walker” has “never been in a fistfight” and is “often praised for my sense of humor.” Here’s your soundtrack. — Michael Shepherd
Michael Shepherd

About Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after covering state, federal and local issues for the Kennebec Journal for three years. He's a Hallowell native who now lives in Gardiner. He graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and is a graduate student at the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service.