LePage rips Janet Mills a day after she confirms she hopes to succeed him

Gov. Paul LePage’s verbal assault on Attorney General Janet Mills continued Tuesday on the heels of Mills announcing that she seek the Democratic nomination to replace LePage as Maine’s next governor.

LePage’s comments Tuesday morning during a radio interview on WVOM were nothing new but illustrated, again, how he has been loaded up against Mills for years and what the campaign against her over the next 15 months will look like.

“She is a Democrat before she’s an attorney,” said LePage, who has long complained that he has no authority over the attorney general nor any role in nominating or appointing candidates for the position. Maine is unique among U.S. states because members of the Legislature vote and elect the attorney general, treasurer, secretary of state and state auditor.

“The whole way the constitutional officers are put in place in this state is outrageous,” said LePage. “The governor, who is the only elected official in the whole state, has no say in placing constitutional officers.”

Mills had long been expected to declare her gubernatorial candidacy but sent ripples through Maine’s political channels on Monday with her announcement. Out of the gate, she is framing herself as a problem solver with a history of working with people from any political party. While that may be true, Mills’ long career as a prosecutor, lawmaker and attorney general has produced numerous examples of her Democratic activism.

LePage’s comments were in reference to his attempt to intervene, again, in the plight of a husky named Dakota, who he is trying to spare from being euthanized after it attacked two other dogs, killing one of them. Dakota’s case is up for a hearing Monday in Augusta District Court and LePage wants to file an amicus brief, which means he would offer his opinions in the case but not be an official witness. LePage has asked Mills to allow him to file the brief with the help of outside counsel.

The battle between Mills and LePage, which already has been epic throughout the last several years, won’t fizzle anytime soon. Mills told the BDN on Monday that she will not give up her position as attorney general to campaign because of the influence she has to work on behalf of Maine people.

Strap in folks, we’re in for quite a ride. Here’s your soundtrack.Christopher Cousins

Quick hits

  • The casino referendum backer who is under investigation says she hasn’t seen the subpoenas against her and wants an extension. Lisa Scott of Miami, who leads the push for a citizen-initiated November referendum to allow a casino in York County, is at the center of a Maine Ethics Commission investigation into who spent $4.2 million on last year’s petition campaign and how they stand to benefit. In June, the commission approved an investigation and ordered Scott and others to turn over relevant financial records and communications, but Scott’s attorney walked out of the meeting without accepting the subpoenas. Commission Executive Director Jonathan Wayne wrote in a summary of the case that the subpoenas were mailed to multiple addresses but Scott says she has not been served with them. On Friday, the commission will consider Scott’s request for a 60-day extension to comply for herself and another witness, Cheryl Timberlake, as well as an extension of the deadline to further dispute the subpoenas themselves. Scott has missed the commission’s original July 5 deadline to produce the materials. — Christopher Cousins
  • We know you want more Legislature. Legislative leaders have decided to convene the House and Senate on July 20 to conduct some of the last bits of business for the session, including the fates of 137 bills that passed this year but are all but dead because they need funding. Here’s their soundtrack. Also on the docket are negotiations over a bond package to send to voters and probably dozens of legislative sentiments for high school sports teams, enduring marriages and retirees. Here’s their soundtrack. There will likely be one last legislative day a couple weeks after July 20 to consider any vetoes from the governor. — Christopher Cousins
  • LePage will speak tonight at a conservative group’s Bangor forum on opioid addiction. The governor is the keynote speaker at the Substance Abuse Leadership Forum, which begins at 6 p.m. at the Crosspoint Church at 1476 Broadway in Bangor. It’s being put on by the Family Prosperity Initiative, a project of the American Conservative Union that is run by husband-and-wife team J. Scott Moody and Wendy Warcholik. Moody is the former executive director of the conservative Maine Heritage Policy Center. — Christopher Cousins and Michael Shepherd
  • Bruce Poliquin has co-sponsored a bill to improve the Veteran’s Administration’s hiring. The VA Acquisition Workforce Improvement and Streamlining Act would implement career certification programs already used by the Department of Defense for construction and logistics hirees in the VA. The bill, which according to a press release could be done within existing resources, would also expand the VA’s intern programs to attract more college graduates and recent veterans. Poliquin, a Republican from Maine’s 2nd District, introduced the bill Monday with Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Michigan, who is chairman of the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, and ranking member Rep. Annie Kuster, D-New Hampshire. — Christopher Cousins
  • A new Maine law aiming to get 14- and 15-year-olds to fill hospitality jobs in a tight market went into effect on Sunday. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Brian Langley, R-Ellsworth, was partially aimed at loosening Maine’s tight hospitality job market in a tourist season where the state is seeing record low unemployment levels. It allows 14- and 15-year olds to apply to the Maine Department of Labor to work in jobs formerly limited to 16-year-olds in bowling alleys, movie theaters and amusement parks. It also lets them work in certain areas in hotels and bakeries that aren’t deemed dangerous. For example, they can work in a bakery as a cashier or cake decorator, but only if baking goes on in a separate room. In hotels, they can work in lobbies, but they can’t clean rooms. It became law on Sunday without LePage’s signature. CORRECTION: An earlier version of this stated that 14- and 15-year-olds could mow lawns while employed by hotels. Federal law prevents them from doing so if the mower has a motor. — Michael Shepherd
  • Chellie Pingree won an environmental award from Environment Maine. The Democrat from Maine’s 1st District received a 100 percent score on the organization’s Environmental Champion scorecard for supporting measures associated with clean air, clean water and open spaces. — Christopher Cousins

Today in A-town

The State Liquor and Lottery Commission meets today to consider whether to stop selling nip-sized liquor bottles in Maine. LePage vowed to end the sale of nips after the Legislature added them to Maine’s bottle redemption program despite his veto.

BABLO director Gregory Mineo will present the governor’s recommendation at today’s meeting. We’ll let you know if a recommendation materializes out of the 10 a.m. meeting at the Augusta State Armory.

Also meeting this morning is the Legislature’s Transportation Committee, which will consider the fate of a number of bills on the so-called Highway Table, which you can see by clicking here. — Christopher Cousins

Reading list

How much are Lena Dunham’s tears worth to you?

Lena Dunham, the creator of the television show “Girls,” is selling the dress she cried in when Donald Trump won the presidency.

Yeah, you read that right.

The dress, a Kenzo with ruffle accents(!), is on sale at RealReal for $125 to benefit Planned Parenthood. Why such a low price for high fashion? There were supposedly no tear stains, so maybe it was this New York Times quote from Dunham about the dress:

“I realized I had been carrying around a lot of crap, both internally and externally.”

Not sure if any got on the dress. It’s not my size anyway. Here’s my soundtrack. — Christopher Cousins

With tips, pitches, questions or feedback, email us at politics@bangordailynews.com. If you’re reading The Daily Brief on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, click here to get Maine’s only newsletter on state politics and policy delivered via email every weekday morning.

Christopher Cousins

About Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.