|74th Governor of Maine|
January 5, 2011
|Preceded by||John Baldacci|
|50th Mayor of Waterville|
|Preceded by||Nelson Madore|
|Succeeded by||Dana Sennett|
|Born||Paul Richard LePage
October 9, 1948
Lewiston, Maine, U.S.
|Alma mater||Husson College
University of Maine, Orono
LePage grew up on the streets of Lewiston after leaving a poor home environment at the age of 11. He served as general manager of the 14-store discount chain Marden's Surplus and Salvage from 1996 through 2011. He served as a city councilor in Waterville, Maine for two terms before serving as Mayor of Waterville (2003-11). LePage was elected governor of Maine with a plurality in a five-candidate race in 2010 and was re-elected with a stronger plurality in a three-candidate election in 2014. LePage has made eliminating Maine's income tax, fighting illegal drugs, and education reforms such as charter schools high priorities for his administration, even to the point where he has vetoed bills regardless of their merits to pressure the Maine Legislature to implement his proposals. He has also drawn attention for controversial statements he has made about various subjects, his dislike of Maine newspapers, and administrative actions he has done.
In 2015, an investigation was launched to determine if he improperly used his office to force a non-profit group that operates a charter school to reverse their hiring of Mark Eves, the Democratic Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives as its president. Some Maine legislators threatened impeachment over the matter.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Business career
- 3 Local politics
- 4 Governor of Maine
- 4.1 2010 election
- 4.2 2014 election
- 4.3 Tenure
- 4.3.1 Overview
- 4.3.2 Hiring of family members
- 4.3.3 2011 MLK Day activities
- 4.3.4 "Little Beards"
- 4.3.5 Renaming conference rooms and removing murals
- 4.3.6 Criticism of state employees
- 4.3.7 Education reform efforts
- 4.3.8 "The new Gestapo" remark
- 4.3.9 Jobless benefits work
- 4.3.10 Alleged censorship and office move
- 4.3.11 Vaseline comment
- 4.3.12 Views on newspapers
- 4.3.13 President Obama
- 4.3.14 Federal government shutdown response
- 4.3.15 Meetings with a group alleged to be connected with the "Sovereign Citizen movement"
- 4.3.16 Good Will-Hinckley funding threat
- 5 2018 U.S. Senate election
- 6 Political positions
- 7 Awards and honors
- 8 Personal life
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Early life and education
LePage was born in Lewiston, Maine. The eldest son of eighteen children of Theresa (née Gagnon) and Gerard LePage, both of French Canadian descent, he grew up speaking French in an impoverished home with an abusive father who was a mill worker. His father drank heavily and terrorized the children, and his mother was too intimidated to stop him. At age eleven, after his father beat him and broke his nose, he ran away from home and lived on the streets of Lewiston, where he at times stayed in horse stables and at a "strip joint". After spending roughly two years homeless, he began to earn a living shining shoes, washing dishes at a café, and hauling boxes for a truck driver. He later worked at a rubber company and a meat-packing plant and was a short order cook and bartender.
LePage applied to Husson College in Bangor, but he was rejected due to a poor verbal score on the SAT because English was his second language. He has said that State Representative Peter Snowe—the first husband of former U.S. senator Olympia Snowe—persuaded Husson to give LePage a written exam in French, which allowed LePage to show his reading comprehension skills and gain admission. At Husson, LePage improved his English-language skills and became editor of the college newspaper. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in business administration in finance and accounting and later earned a Master of Business Administration from the University of Maine.
LePage worked for a lumber company in New Brunswick, Canada that was owned by his first wife's family from 1972 to 1979, and later for Scott Paper in Winslow, Maine. He later founded the business consulting firm LePage & Kasevich Inc., which specialized in aiding floundering companies. In 1996, LePage became general manager of Marden's Surplus and Salvage, a Maine-based discount store chain.
LePage served two terms as a Waterville city councilor before becoming mayor in 2003, retaining that post until resigning in January 2011. During his time as mayor, LePage reorganized city hall, lowered taxes, and increased the city's rainy day fund balance from $1 million to $10 million.
Governor of Maine
On September 22, 2009, LePage announced that he would be seeking the 2010 Republican nomination for governor of Maine. He won 38% of the vote in a seven-way primary election, despite being outspent ten-to-one by his closest challenger. John Morris, LePage's campaign chief-of-staff, credited LePage's win with a campaign strategy (devised by chief strategist Brent Littlefield) that he referred to as the "three onlys" theme before the June primary election. This theme focused on particular aspects of LePage's biography that supposedly set him apart from the other candidates. These were, according to Morris, LePage "was the only candidate who had a compelling life story, ...the only candidate who had a successful experience as a chief executive officer of a government entity, ...the only candidate who was the executive of a prosperous Maine business.”
In the general election, LePage was backed by local Tea Party activists and faced Democratic state senator Libby Mitchell, and three independents – Eliot Cutler, Shawn Moody, and Kevin Scott. During the campaign, he told an audience that when he became governor, they could expect to see newspaper headlines stating, "LePage Tells Obama To Go to Hell". He was subsequently criticized by Libby Mitchell's campaign as being disrespectful towards the office of the president.
With 94% of precincts reporting on the day after the election, the Bangor Daily News declared LePage the winner, carrying 38.1% of the votes. independent Cutler was in second place with 36.7% of the votes (fewer than 7,500 votes behind LePage), while Democrat Mitchell was a distant third with 19%. Moody and Scott had 5% and 1%, respectively. LePage is the first popularly elected, Franco-American governor of Maine and the first Republican since John R. McKernan, Jr.'s re-election in 1990. In his victory speech, LePage promised he would shrink government, lower taxes, decrease business regulation, and put "Maine people ahead of politics."
On May 7, 2013, LePage stated that it was likely that he would seek re-election in 2014. He had already filed paperwork to form a campaign committee in August 2011 to be able to hold fundraisers to raise campaign funds.
On June 21, 2013, when asked if he was concerned about hurting his re-election campaign, he replied, "Who said I'm running?", and, that "everything was on the table"—including entering the race for Maine's Second Congressional District; retiring; or "going back to Marden's to stock shelves". He later backed-off the reference to entering a congressional run, but stated that he would have a family meeting to discuss the possibility of him not seeking re-election (citing the passage of a 2013–2014 budget by the legislature—in override of his veto of it—as the type of devastating mistake that Maine could not recover from.) At a fundraiser with former Florida governor Jeb Bush on July 2, he told supporters that he was indeed running for re-election.
LePage has vetoed 182 bills as Governor, which broke the record of 118 set by Governor James B. Longley. Most of LePage's vetoes have come since 2013, when Democrats regained control of the Legislature from the Republicans. Democrats overrode 20 of LePage's vetoes. Five of them, including an override of the 2013–2014 state budget, came in the 2013 session of the Legislature, while 15 came in the 2014 session. In the 2015 session of the Legislature, LePage had 14 more vetoes overridden as of June 11. That number is expected to climb as LePage has promised to veto every bill sponsored by a Democrat, regardless of its merits, in retaliation for the rejection of his proposal for a constitutional amendment referendum to eliminate Maine's income tax. If he does so, LePage would be on pace to break Gov. James B. Longley's record of having 64 vetoes overridden in a single term. LePage later expanded his veto threat to all bills sponsored by all legislators in order to force needing a 2/3 vote on them for passage. He stated that he feels it is the only way he can "get the most representation that I can for the people of the state of Maine" and that Democrats had convinced Republicans to sponsor bills to get around his initial veto threat.
Hiring of family members
As one of his first actions as governor, LePage appointed his then-22-year-old daughter, Lauren, as assistant to his chief of staff—an entry-level position, despite its roughly $41,000 annual salary (plus employee benefits estimated to be worth an additional $15,000 per year). Despite residing in The Blaine House with her father, Lauren also received a housing stipend worth an estimated $10,000 per year. (Maine's rules against nepotism did not apply to this and other political positions.) Critics noted that Lauren LePage had a limited work history. Lauren performed her job's duties until it was revealed on October 15, 2013 that she would be resigning in order to work on her father's re-election campaign.
LePage later hired his brother-in-law, Jody Ledoux, as Director of Administrative Services for Maine's State Planning Office, at an annual salary of $68,577. Ledoux, who is married to a sister of LePage's wife Ann, began his work on February 13, 2012.
2011 MLK Day activities
At the beginning of his term as governor, he was criticized for refusing either to attend Martin Luther King, Jr. Day events in Portland or Orono or to meet with Maine representatives of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He also declined a request by the NAACP to meet with Black inmates at the Maine State Prison, stating he would only meet with all inmates regardless of race if he visited the prison. When questioned, LePage said he would not be "held hostage" by special interest groups including the NAACP, and laughingly told a local news reporter, "Tell them they can kiss my butt." The remarks were reported in national media, with The Portland Press Herald saying that the comments "sparked outrage... among civil rights group leaders who called his remarks 'astonishing and troubling'". A LePage spokesperson responded, "He's got a directness about him that a lot of people find appealing". LePage's office later indicated that he would meet with NAACP representatives but only to discuss matters of concern to "all Maine's people". LePage did attend, unannounced beforehand, a Martin Luther King Jr. Day breakfast in Waterville, as he had done as Mayor.
In February 2011, LePage again gained national attention when he spoke on a local TV news program saying he hoped to repeal the Maine ban of Bisphenol A, voted for unanimously by the Maine Board of Environmental Protection, because "There hasn't been any science that identifies that there is a problem" and added: "The only thing that I've heard is if you take a plastic bottle and put it in the microwave and you heat it up, it gives off a chemical similar to estrogen. So the worst case is some women may have little beards... and we don't want that." On March 28, it was reported that the LePage administration had dropped its opposition to the new BPA regulations. After a unanimous vote in the Senate and only three opposing votes in the House of Representatives, on April 22, the Maine legislature passed a bill to ban the use of BPA in baby bottles, sippy cups and other reusable food and beverage containers, effective January 1, 2012. Governor LePage refused to sign the bill but it became law without his signature.
Renaming conference rooms and removing murals
On March 23, 2011, Governor LePage sparked protests when he announced that he planned to remove a large mural depicting the history of the state's labor movement from the lobby of the Maine Department of Labor offices. LePage said that he had received a written complaint signed by a "secret admirer", and "some complaints" from business owners. The mural includes depictions of Rosie the Riveter at Bath Iron Works, a 1937 shoe worker's strike, and a 1986 paper mill strike. The artist, Judy Taylor, stated, "There was never any intention to be pro-labor or anti-labor, it was a pure depiction of the facts." LePage also announced that he plans to rename conference rooms that have carried the names of historic leaders of American labor, as well as former Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins, the first woman cabinet member in American history and whose parents were natives of Maine. The governor's spokesman explained that the mural and the conference-room names were "not in keeping with the department's pro-business goals". Despite protests, on March 28 it was disclosed that the murals had been removed over the weekend. In a statement, LePage's press secretary said, "The mural has been removed and is in storage awaiting relocation to a more appropriate venue." On March 30 the Portland Museum of Art issued a statement that said LePage's decision has tarnished the state's reputation as a haven for artists: "The historical role of Maine as muse and refuge for generations of Americans is called into question by this single action." The Maine Curators' Forum, a consortium of curators and directors from museums, colleges and universities, art centers and galleries throughout the state, also issued a statement that called LePage's action a "direct affront to our values as arts professionals."
On April 1, 2011 it was disclosed that a federal lawsuit had been filed in U.S. District Court seeking "to confirm the mural's current location, ensure that the artwork is adequately preserved, and ultimately to restore it to the Department of Labor's lobby in Augusta". On March 23, 2012, U.S. District Judge John A. Woodcock ruled that the removal of the mural was a protected form of government speech and that LePage removing it would be no different from his refusing to read aloud a history of labor in Maine. A month later, supporters of the mural filed a notice of appeal in the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. The Court rejected the appeal on November 28, 2012. On January 13, 2013, it was announced that the mural had been placed in the Maine State Museum's atrium per an agreement between the Museum and the Department of Labor, and that it would be available for public viewing the next day.
Criticism of state employees
On April 27, 2012 LePage, while at a town hall meeting in Newport, responded to a question about excessive government fees by saying "The problem is the middle management of the state is about as corrupt as you can be. Believe me, we're trying every day to get them to go to work, but it's hard." Maine State Employees Association President Ginette Rivard responded to the criticism of state workers by stating: "For Gov. LePage to call them 'corrupt' is baseless and insulting to every public worker who has dedicated their lives to making Maine a great place to live, work and raise a family." Minority Democrats in the Legislature denounced the comment as "unacceptable and unprofessional", and one Republican legislator called on LePage to apologize. LePage's spokesperson Adrienne Bennett later said that the Governor was not referring to bribery or criminal activity, but to "a lack of integrity" by state employees who want to uphold the status quo and delay progress. He released a letter to all state employees explaining his statement by praising those who "work hard for the people of Maine" and criticizing employees who have been "corrupted by the bureaucracy". LePage's comment was additionally criticized by two other Republican legislators, Sen. Roger Katz of Augusta and Rep. Patrick Flood of Winthrop, both of whom have significant numbers of state employees as constituents. Sen. Katz stated, "For our governor to question their integrity, to essentially call them morally depraved—look it up—is demeaning and inexcusable", going on to say that the comment was "not worthy of the chief executive."
Education reform efforts
In his second year in office, LePage made several proposals to change Maine's education system, which he said were "all about students". A proposal to allow public funds to go to religious schools was defeated in the Legislature, in part due to concerns that such a law would be found unconstitutional by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.
The Legislature delayed action on a proposal by LePage to allow students to attend any public school they wished, even outside their home districts. LePage supported the creation of charter schools in Maine during his 2010 campaign, and signed a bill sponsored by Senator Garrett Mason making Maine the 41st state to have them on June 29, 2011. On June 11, 2012, LePage criticized members of the newly created State Charter School Commission for tabling applications to create virtual charter schools for a year, urging any Commission members who were not up to meeting the State's expectations to resign.
On July 25, 2012, LePage and his Commissioner of Education, Stephen Bowen, unveiled a second round of reform proposals, which he called the "ABC plan". "ABC" stands for accountability, best practices, and choice. His series of proposals includes requiring high schools to pay for any remedial classes their graduates require in college, allowing the State to take over failing schools, increased use of distance learning with good teachers, and a renewed push for the school choice bill that was deferred earlier in the year. LePage said that "If you come from Maine you're looked down upon" by other states due to the current education system. He said that the College of William and Mary in Virginia requires students from Maine to take an additional exam before being admitted to the school. A representative of the College denied this. His proposals were criticized by the Maine Education Association, Maine Democrats, and many college students attending school out of state who stated they did not experience the poor treatment LePage purported.
LePage, at a rare press conference, again asked the members of the Charter School Commission to resign after they rejected four out of five applications for new charter schools on January 8, 2013. He said that the board needed "people with backbones" to stand up to what he views as intimidation by the Maine School Boards Association. Commission members stated that they were simply following the law as written and that LePage was in error about any alleged intimidation. LePage also stated he intended, even before the recent rejections, to introduce legislation to reform the Charter School Commission.
"The new Gestapo" remark
In his weekly radio address on July 8, 2012, LePage said, while discussing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was "the new Gestapo" due to their role in enforcing the law. Some democrats, Jewish groups, and unions levied heavy criticism towards LePage over his statement, and demanded an apology. Prominent members of LePage's own party were generally less critical. Maine Republican Party chairman Charlie Webster felt that "most regular people knew what he meant." Maine House Speaker Robert Nutting stated that, while he would have used a different word, he felt that Maine Democrats were "desperately seeking a way to become relevant" through their "manufactured outrage".
On July 9, LePage issued a written statement stating that his intent was not to "insult anyone, especially the Jewish community, or to minimize the fact that millions of people were murdered", and that his message had been "clouded" by his use of the word Gestapo. In response, both Maine Senator Roger Katz, who is Jewish, and U.S. Senator Susan Collins stated they were pleased LePage had backed away from his comments.
On July 12, while at a fundraiser for Vermont gubernatorial candidate Randy Brock, LePage was questioned about his comment. When asked by a reporter if he knew what the Gestapo did, LePage said that he knew they "killed a lot of people" and that he thought the IRS, while not there yet, was headed towards killing many people as well. LePage clarified that he did not think the IRS would intentionally kill anyone, but that he meant the IRS would eventually ration the medical care of Americans, which would result in deaths. Maine Democratic Party chairman Grant said that LePage had now "crossed a threshold" with his "unhinged conspiracy theories", and that LePage's fitness to hold his office should be questioned. LePage used his next weekly radio address on July 13 to publicly apologize for his remark, after having privately met with and apologized to representatives of the Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine that same day.
Jobless benefits work
On March 21, 2013, LePage summoned a dozen state employees of the Bureau of Unemployment to the Blaine House for a luncheon to discuss the state's unemployment compensation hearing and appeals process. LePage described the meeting as "cordial" and was intended to discuss ways that the appeals process for unemployment claims could be made easier and have less ambiguity for the system, as well as LePage learning about the system. He further said that he stated that workers should treat everyone equally and follow the law. LePage launched a Blue Ribbon Commission to investigate the system, and found no bias involved but it did find other issues, such as poor communication and understaffing.
Some workers who attended the Blaine House meeting, which was required and had attendance taken, said that LePage used the meeting to pressure and intimidate them to give more rulings on unemployment claim appeals in favor of businesses, as well as to state that they were doing their jobs poorly. The workers did not give their names for fear of retribution. LePage called the accusation "outrageous" and said that David Webber, the president of the Maine Employment Lawyers Association who made the allegation, was making it up.
A federal investigation of the alleged intimidation was launched that April, though LePage initially characterized it as a routine audit and denied an investigation was taking place. The report on the investigation was released on February 27, 2014 and stated that LePage's administration improperly acted with “what could be perceived as a bias toward employers" and that employees were urged to be more sympathetic to employers. LePage dismissed the report as politically motivated coming from the Obama administration and Democrats. Legislative Republicans agreed and further stated that the luncheon was simply representative of a hands-on effort by LePage to improve the system. Legislative Democrats immediately criticized LePage over the allegations and called for further Legislative committee work, while Senate Majority Leader Troy Dale Jackson called for LePage to be impeached.
Alleged censorship and office move
On May 23, 2013, LePage announced that he would move his office out of the Maine State Capitol and work from The Blaine House due to what he called efforts by majority Democrats in the Legislature to censor his speech. This included the refusal of the Appropriations Committee to allow him to address them on May 19, and later being asked to obtain permission from the Legislative Council to have a TV outside of his office displaying the number of days since his budget was proposed. Senate President Justin Alfond criticized LePage's announcement by saying such behavior was "embarrassing and not helpful to getting things done for the people of Maine."
State law requires the Governor to have his office within the Capitol building but his staff may remain there and work in his absence. LePage said this would happen "until partisan leaders of the Legislature choose to evict them." LePage's spokesperson said that he began working from The Blaine House on May 21. He returned to his office by May 29, while still criticizing what he called censorship.
On June 20, 2013, after speaking at a rally opposed to the bipartisan biennial budget proposal voted out of the Legislature, LePage responded to criticism from Democratic Assistant Majority Leader Senator Troy Dale Jackson that LePage was "delusional" to say Democratic leaders were unwilling to negotiate with him. LePage stated that Senator Jackson "claims to be for the people but he’s the first one to give it to the people without providing Vaseline". He further stated people like Jackson, a logger by trade, "ought to go back into the woods and cut trees and let someone with a brain come down here and do some good work", along with other negative personal remarks.
The remark about Vaseline was heavily criticized by public figures on all sides, including Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves, who called the comment "obscene" and criticized its being on the evening news when children could hear it. Republican House Minority Leader Kenneth Fredette and former Senator Olympia Snowe also publicly criticized the remarks. Religious organizations including the Christian Civic League and the Cornerstone Baptist Academy of Scarborough condemned the remarks, and the Maine Women's Lobby said the Vaseline remark feeds society's rape culture.
Anti-gay marriage activist Michael Heath defended LePage's remarks, saying, "It’s so refreshing in this age of insanity when it comes to sexuality to hear someone in public life use sodomy, gay, homosexual—pick your word—in the proper context. It’s negative." Gov. LePage's press secretary responded to Heath's statements by stating "This group does not reflect the views of the governor."
LePage later apologized to anyone that was offended by his remark and loggers in general, but not Senator Jackson. On June 26, independent State Representative Joseph Brooks said he would introduce a resolution to censure LePage over the Vaseline remark, though such a move found little support among legislative leadership.
On April 2, 2015, former Democratic Biddeford Mayor and State Representative Joanne Twomey was escorted from a LePage town hall meeting after throwing a jar of vaseline on stage during what was described as a confrontation between the two. The event was abruptly ended and LePage was taken from the event's venue in Saco by his security detail. Twomey, who was not arrested, stated she chose vaseline to throw to reference LePage's remark. Both the Democratic and Republican parties condemned the incident. LePage said the following day that he blamed the Maine People's Alliance, a liberal group, for the incident and that Twomey was "not a big problem".
Views on newspapers
LePage is known for his dislike of Maine newspapers, once telling students at a school that "Reading newspapers in the state of Maine is like paying somebody to tell you lies." While telling the editorial board of The Portsmouth Herald he did not want their endorsement for reelection, he said that newspapers were against him and "It’s futile. There’s a bias in the press I can’t change."
After a three-part report published by the Portland Press Herald, Kennebec Journal, and Morning Sentinel which alleged his Department of Environmental Protection commissioner was favoring former clients, he ordered his administration to not grant interviews to reporters of those newspapers or cooperate with their information requests. The order did not seem to extend to all state agencies, as the Department of Public Safety's spokesman said he had been given no such instructions. Aside from the initial issuance of the order, it has not been enforced.
On August 9, 2013, while using an F-35 Lightning II simulator at the Pratt & Whitney aircraft engine plant in North Berwick, LePage was asked what he wanted to do in the simulator; he stated "I want to find the Portland Press Herald building and blow it up." He later sent a tweet stating that it was a joke, though the remark was still criticized by the Portland Press Herald. On June 25, 2015, he told a group of high school students a joke about wanting to shoot George Danby, the Bangor Daily News's political cartoonist. The joke was in response to a question by Danby's son who had asked what LePage thought of his father's cartoons. The Bangor Daily News' news director stated that he felt the joke in poor taste in light of the Charlie Hebdo shootings. LePage, when asked for an apology, said he would take care of it personally, according to a spokesman.
On August 19, 2013, two Republican state legislators alleged, to a Portland Press Herald reporter, that at a fundraiser in Belgrade LePage said President Barack Obama "hates white people". The two legislators requested anonymity in fear of political retribution. Others present at the fundraiser, including new state Party Chairman Rick Bennett and House Minority Leader Kenneth Fredette, stated that they did not hear LePage state that. The Bangor Daily News later reported that other attendees said the comment was "doesn't like white people", not "hates". LePage told the Washington Post that his comments were misinterpreted by the media and that he only said the President "doesn't like him".
The following day, both LePage and his communications director denied the remark had been made and criticized the media for seeking gossip and being biased. The director further alleged that the two making the accusation were plants intended to benefit the opposition candidates for Governor U.S. Representatives Mike Michaud and Eliot Cutler. The Legislators who reported the comment stood by their statement after LePage's denial, and other unnamed attendees also stated the remark had been made.
Criticism of the remark largely came from Democrats such as Senate President Alfond, Party Chairman Ben Grant, and the Democratic Governors Association. Representatives of State House and Senate Republican caucuses stated they would not comment on the alleged remark, as the event at which it was allegedly made was in a private home. Former GOP candidate for Maine's 1st Congressional District Dean Scontras sent a tweet calling for LePage to resign.
On August 23, LePage wrote a statement to members of the Republican Party to apologize "for any difficulty that remarks recently reported in the press may have caused you." He went on to state that he believes President Obama does not dislike any racial group, and blamed "politically motivated and powerful elitists" at newspapers for the controversy. He also cited the fact that French was his first language as a reason for his controversial statements.
Federal government shutdown response
Nine days after the U.S. federal government shutdown on October 1, 2013, LePage declared a civil emergency in Maine. That allowed him to ignore state laws or rules if they delayed effective management of the emergency. LePage said that the declaration was necessary in order to cope with the loss of federally funded positions during the shutdown, such as by transferring state-funded personnel to functions originally carried out by the federally funded personnel to minimize layoffs. The head of the Maine State Employees Union Ginette Rivard criticized the move as an unnecessary "overreach of power". Democrats in the Legislature were concerned about the lack of transparency about what Governor LePage was going to do as a result of the emergency and sought more information.
One further aspect of the shutdown LePage became concerned with was the closure of Cobscook Bay State Park, a park operated on land leased from the then closed Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge. Aside from the state park itself, the area also contained a boat launch ramp used by many local fishermen. LePage traveled to Cobscook Bay on October 17 to criticize the federal government for interfering with the operation of a state park and closing the boat ramp. He further stated that in the event of another shutdown, he would order Sheriff Donnie Smith of Washington County, where the park is located, to keep it open if necessary.
LePage ended the civil emergency order on October 18.
Meetings with a group alleged to be connected with the "Sovereign Citizen movement"
On June 30, 2014, the website Talking Points Memo reported that LePage had met eight times with members of the sovereign citizen movement between January and September 2013. According to participants, the sovereign citizens group used these meetings, some of which lasted nearly three hours, to inform LePage of their beliefs, which include assertions that the US Dollar and Maine state courts are illegal, that Maine Senate President Justin Alfond and Maine House Speaker Mark Eves are guilty of treason and should be executed, and that the US government and the United Nations are planning for a war against Americans.
The governor's office issued a statement saying LePage has met with “hundreds of Mainers hearing thousands of ideas, concerns and suggestions” and that “hearing those ideas during constituent meetings does not translate to the Governor endorsing the ideas of others.” In a phone call to the Bangor Daily News, LePage said that he stopped meeting with the movement members because "they got mad and called me all sorts of names" and had stopped listening to him. He said that he agreed with some of their views but that other views they held were "off the wall". He also said that those he had met with had called his office on June 30, the day the story broke, to request a meeting, but he declined to do so.
Two of the men who had met with LePage rejected the claims of ties to the "sovereign citizen movement" and denied any discussions of executions took place. Along with LePage, they threatened to sue Mike Tipping, the liberal activist making the claims.
Good Will-Hinckley funding threat
In June of 2015, Good Will-Hinckley, a charitable organization for at-risk youths that runs two charter schools, hired Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves to be their next president. LePage, however, threatened $500,000 of state funding for the school if they hired Eves, due to his voting record against charter schools in Maine. Given that the school could lose matching funds from the private sector, which would force it to close, they fired Eves. Eves called LePage's actions "blackmail" as well as political interference with his ability to provide for his family, and said he will take legal action against him. Some Maine legislators have asked the Legislature's Government Oversight Committee to investigate the situation and determine if any laws or ethical guidelines were broken, and some have said they will work to initiate impeachment proceedings.
LePage defended his actions by stating that while he did threaten the school's funding, the money was not actually in the budget having already been cut by Democratic legislators, and that the Democrats were "just trying to protect their speaker for doing a hackarama on the people of the State of Maine." LePage further said he was cleaning up cronyism in state government, calling Eves a "crony" and a "hack" who was taking a "soft landing" at Good Will-Hinckley. Eves called LePage's statement about the budget false and said "If the governor can get away with blackmail, he can get away with anything".
The Government Oversight Committee unanimously voted on July 1 to authorize the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability (OPEGA) to investigate the matter. LePage's legal counsel, in a letter to OPEGA, stated that they believe the Office does not have the authority to investigate the Governor. OPEGA's director disagreed, stating that they do have the authority to investigate the flow of taxpayer dollars to a nonprofit.
Eves filed a civil lawsuit against LePage in U.S. District Court in Portland on July 30, 2015, alleging illegal retaliation, blackmail, and violations of Eves' Constitutional rights. LePage's spokeswoman called the lawsuit "political" and without legal merit, and referred to the effort as "Democrats’ concerted attempt to accomplish what they couldn’t at the ballot box inside a courtroom.”
2018 U.S. Senate election
LePage has stated he is "very strongly" considering entering the 2018 U.S. Senate race against incumbent independent Senator Angus King, citing King's caucusing with Senate Democrats. He was also critical of King for switching his 2014 gubernatorial election endorsement from independent candidate Eliot Cutler to Democratic nominee Mike Michaud.
LePage is opposed to the Maine Clean Elections Act, which provides for publicly financed campaigns in Maine. He proposed eliminating all funding for the Act in his 2014–2015 biennial budget and stated his opposition to a proposal to reform the Act by increasing the amount of money that would be distributed. He calls such aid "welfare for politicians".
LePage supports the idea of the State removing the children of welfare recipients from their homes if the recipients are found to be using illegal drugs and refuse to enter rehab. Current law only allows the removal of children due to neglect and abuse, which can result from drug use, but is not drug use itself.
He has expressed opposition to the legalization of marijuana, seeing it as a gateway to more powerful drugs like heroin, but has said that if legalization was approved by referendum, he would honor it.
LePage has called for additional Maine DEA agents, judges, and prosecutors to fight drugs. The Maine Legislature approved six additional agents, two prosecutors, and two judges in the 2015-16 state budget, but LePage criticized that as "chump change" and has asked for more. He has criticized legislative Democrats skeptical of his proposals, stating "If I didn’t know better, I was a real cynic, I’d think that the Democrats like drug dealers." He has stated he would use the Maine National Guard for drug enforcement if necessary, and has actually done so. He further called for drug traffickers to be put in "super-max" facilities.
LePage has said that the permitting process to start a business in Maine is too cumbersome and expensive and he will look for ways to make it cheaper and easier. He opposes raising any taxes during his term as governor and supports the creation of a 5% flat tax on all households earning more than $30,000. During the gubernatorial campaign, he also wanted to reduce the auto registration tax by 20% and use the actual sale price rather than MSRP as the tax basis.
LePage has criticized Maine's child labor laws, stating that the minimum work age of 16 without a work permit in Maine "is doing damage to the economy" and that "there is nothing wrong with being a paperboy at 12 years old, or at a store sorting bottles at 12 years old." He has stated that he has no problem with children being prohibited from working 40 hours a week, but citing his own experiences working at that age, said that a 12-year-old working 8–10 hours a week or a 14-year-old working 12–15 hours a week should be permitted as it would instill a healthy work ethic in children. LePage has proposed allowing businesses to pay child workers a training wage of $5.25 an hour, loosening time-based requirements for children working during the school year, and streamlining the process for children to obtain a work permit by removing school superintendents from the process in the summer, all of which did not pass the Legislature.
LePage opposes the expansion of casino gambling in Maine, believing that any economic benefit to additional casinos would come at the expense of Maine's existing casinos.
LePage signed a bill to bring Maine in alignment with the Common Core State Standards Initiative on April 1, 2011, making the State the 42nd to do so. By 2013, however, LePage expressed opposition to the standards, citing fears of a federal takeover of education and student privacy concerns. On September 4, he issued an executive order prohibiting the Maine Department of Education from implementing any federal education standards, applying for grants where implementing such standards is a condition of the grant, and sharing personal student information with the federal government.
On November 18, 2013, LePage pledged $10,000 from his official contingency account to a program run by Portland-based LearningWorks for helping new immigrants learn the English language. LePage met with Somali immigrants in Lewiston to make the announcement, and discussed other difficulties immigrants had in obtaining education and employment, which LePage related to given his life with French as his first language.
LePage has criticized wind power and in particular the large-scale expansion of installed capacity mandated by Maine's 2008 Wind Energy Act and wind energy's large role in the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard. LePage argues that the policies are a major cause of the relatively high cost per kW of electricity in Maine—34% above the national average.
He has said he would support shallow-water offshore drilling in Maine waters, but not deep-water drilling, which he considers more hazardous. He believes that government policies should consider the effect of greenhouse gases, but opposes regulation, saying he is not convinced that greenhouse gases from human activities are a significant contributor to climate change. He has stated that some requirements for environmental impact studies should be reduced or weakened because they frequently impose undue burden on economic activity.
In June 2012, LePage criticized the removal of the Great Works dam on the Penobscot River in Old Town to enhance the migration of fish in the river, despite the project leading to no loss of electricity generation, calling the removal of hydroelectric dams in general "irresponsible". In August 2012, he was reported saying that he supported efforts to invest in renewable energy, though only ones he thought were both economically feasible and effective: "There are renewables that work," he said. "Like hydro, hydro and more hydro."
In the same report, he said that wind could not support the baseload energy needs of the state, calling it a "boutique energy source."
In February 2011, LePage was criticized by environmentalists when he proposed zoning 10 million acres (40,000 km2) of northern Maine for development, repealing laws that require manufacturers to take back recyclable goods for disposal, and other sweeping changes to environmental laws. In a statement LePage said, "Job creation and investment opportunities are being lost because we do not have a fair balance between our economic interests and the need to protect the environment." Lisa Pohlmann, executive director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine—one of the state's largest and oldest environmental advocacy groups—replied to his proposed changes saying, "We are shocked and stunned." Maureen Drouin, executive director of the Maine Conservation Voters Education Fund, said, "A dirty environment is no way to bring new jobs to Maine."
LePage has stated that the size of state government is likely too large and that he would probably seek to reduce the number of state employees.
LePage has called for the abolition of term limits for Maine Legislators, who are limited to four consecutive two-year terms, saying that they have resulted in a Legislature full of young people with "firm agendas" who pass bills that hurt Maine in the long term. He cited former longtime Democratic House Speaker John Martin as an example of how an experienced legislator would be beneficial for Maine.
He has called for repeal of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, saying he believes it is unconstitutional, and had encouraged Maine's attorney general William Schneider to join the federal lawsuit by other state attorneys general challenging the bill. Upon the United States Supreme Court's ruling upholding the majority of the act, LePage stated that the law was an "enormous tax" and that "Washington, D.C., now has the power to dictate how we, as Americans, live our lives." He later referred to the Internal Revenue Service, who is charged with enforcing the insurance mandate, as "the new Gestapo" and that the "decision has made America less free". He has also compared the ACA with Canada's health care system, stating that Canada rations care and that many Canadians come to the U.S. to get treatment because of it, and that similar rationing here would result in deaths.
He has said that coverage mandates for Maine insurance policies should be pared back because they make insurance policies too expensive. He believes that MaineCare, the state Medicaid program, has too many enrollees and is too easy to qualify for. He vetoed a bill to expand MaineCare under the Affordable Care Act on June 17, 2013 and has criticized efforts by the Legislature to write an expansion bill that will obtain enough votes to override a veto, stating that the Legislature has "no compassion".
On July 3, 2013, LePage pledged $50,000 of his emergency fund to a drug treatment center in Ellsworth. The Open Door Recovery Center provides treatment for clients regardless of their ability to pay.
LePage has stated that he feels there are too many hospitals in Maine, noting that New Hampshire's 1.3 million people have 26 hospitals, while Maine's 1.2 million have 39.
In March 2014, LePage drew national attention related to his opposition to a bill that would allow caregivers, health care professionals, and more emergency responders to administer naloxone, a drug which has been long-used as an antidote for drug overdoses, saying it could raise Medicaid costs and encourage drug addiction. Recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), naloxone was formulated to be used for opioid drug overdoses, and for people who have life-threatening drug interactions. Speaking in a statement at the announcement of the approval, the FDA Commissioner said that drug overdose deaths are the leading cause of injury death in the United States, largely due to prescription drug overdoses. LePage vetoed a similar bill in 2013. In an interview LePage stated, "I think we need to treat, Let's deal with the treatment, the proper treatment and not say, Go overdose, and oh, by the way, if you do I'll be there to save you. I think we need to deal with the bigger, basic problem of drug addiction, drug trafficking and drug abuse in the state. That's all I'm interested in."
In 2009, LePage opposed allowing same-sex couples to marry. He does support the state recognizing only civil unions of all couples, believing it would give everyone the same legal standing. During his gubernatorial campaign, he iterated his opposition to same-sex marriage and expressed support for unspecified legal measures to protect committed same-sex couples. In October 2010 he stated that gay marriage should be left to the voters and that he had no personal views on the matter, though he would have vetoed a same-sex marriage bill if it reached his desk.
LePage was critical of the Maine Education Associations' support of the 2012 same-sex marriage initiative, believing the union's taking of political positions hurts the education of Maine students. When asked about LePage's own position on the initiative, his spokeswoman declined to comment.
On the topic of transgender students in grades K-12, he said he did not understand "how people, at least sane people, would want to allow transgender in our primary schools and our high schools." LePage then pledged to oppose legislation for transgender students, saying, "I think it's gone too far and we have to push back. As governor, I would never allow that to be signed into law."
LePage advocates eliminating Maine's income tax, believing it to be an impediment to economic growth for the state. He has stated that his goal is to do so before the end of his second term and he has proposed a constitutional amendment to do so, though he expects the Legislature to reject it. He opposed one bipartisan plan to replace the current progressive income tax rates, which have a top rate of 7.95%, with a 4% flat income tax rate and a broader, higher sales tax because he believes it is not revenue-neutral. After his re-election he expressed support for the general idea of increasing or broadening the sales tax to reduce or eliminate the income tax which he later proposed in his 2015-2016 budget. He has said he will "spend the rest of my days" fighting opponents of his tax proposals, especially in the Legislative election year of 2016.
Welfare reform was a centerpiece of LePage's gubernatorial campaign. In December 2011, citing a budget shortfall, LePage proposed sweeping changes to MaineCare (Maine's Medicaid program). Those changes include dropping 5,000 to 6,000 low-income senior citizens with disabilities from the Drugs for the Elderly program (which provides low-cost prescription drugs to low-income elderly patients), and ending Medicaid coverage for up to 65,000 recipients, including many who are disabled or elderly. Reimbursement to hospitals and other medical providers would be reduced by up to 10 percent, which could trigger the elimination of up to 4,400 health care jobs. The changes could also result in higher premiums and higher co-pays for people with private health insurance.
LePage expressed an intent to reform welfare eligibility requirements, though he did not specify how he would do so. He also supports lifetime limits on welfare support, requiring recipients to perform work in the community, and a tiered payment system that gradually removes benefits as recipients earn more money working, rather than cutting them off entirely at a certain income level.
Speaking before a conservative women's group in Falmouth, Maine on October 14, 2013, LePage said that "About 47 percent of able-bodied people in the state of Maine don’t work ... It's really bad." It is uncertain where LePage obtained his figures since Maine's unemployment rate is actually below the national average. According to an analysis posted on Politifact, only about ten percent of "able-bodied people" age 18 to 64 in Maine were not working and if unemployed Maine residents who were looking for work were excluded from the count, the number not working drops to 3.6 percent. Pointing to a report issued by a conservative think tank, the Maine Heritage Policy Center, LePage’s spokeswoman, Adrienne Bennett, said, “Liberal activists are determined to increase the number of residents who take tax dollars by expanding the size of government and the benefits government workers get and increasing the welfare rolls.”
LePage supports reforms in how EBT cards are used. Proposals he favors include putting photos of cardholders on the card to prevent their sale by the holder, an idea that he proposed after hearing of several incidents where EBT cards turned up in drug busts. He also wants to better prohibit their use to purchase alcohol or cigarettes. He has stated that such fraud is a large problem and he will devote resources to investigating it and generating further proposals to combat it. He has also suggested that he would be willing to shut down the entire EBT program if the federal government will not allow Maine to take measures to combat fraud.
LePage is opposed to the distribution of General Assistance welfare funds to illegal immigrants by municipalities. He has threatened to cut off all state reimbursement of such funds unless municipalities stop doing so, citing federal laws which don't allow welfare funds to go to illegal immigrants unless a state passes a law to specifically allow it. Maine Attorney General Janet T. Mills has stated that the Governor implementing such a policy without using the established rulemaking process or Legislative action is likely against the Maine Constitution. LePage responded to that criticism by stating he found it "inexcusable" that the state's top law enforcement official would advocate violating federal law, and adding that he believes Congress passing the federal laws in question meets the requirement for legislative involvement.
Awards and honors
On September 10, 2013, LePage received an award from the Maine Suicide Prevention Program to recognize his efforts to prevent and raise awareness about suicide.
LePage has four children—two from his first marriage, who live in Canada—and two with his second wife, Ann. Since 2002, his household has also included a young man from Jamaica, Devon Raymond, Jr. (born 1985). LePage calls Raymond his adopted son, although adoption paperwork was not filed. LePage met Raymond in Jamaica through Raymond's father, who caddied for LePage during a vacation there.
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- Paul LePage, March 30, 2013
- Higgins, A.J. (May 4, 2010) "Paul Lepage Profile – Your Vote 2010".[dead link]MPBN. Accessed October 28, 2010
- Houx, Ramona Du (April 25, 2011). "Gov. LePage criticizes appeals of development projects by, as he said, 'some dingbat'". Maineinsights.com. Archived from the original on March 12, 2012. Retrieved August 15, 2011.
- "Crews begin removing Great Works dam; $3.5M in federal funds pledged". Bangor Daily News. June 11, 2012. Retrieved June 11, 2012.
- Moretto, Mario (August 3, 2012). "Maine Gov. LePage: Wind power a 'boutique energy source'". Bangor Daily News.
- "LePage proposes changes to environmental laws | The Morning Sentinel, Waterville, ME". Onlinesentinel.com. Retrieved August 15, 2011.
- "Phase 1 of Governor's Regulatory Reform Proposals" (PDF). State of Maine. Retrieved July 19, 2013.
- Kaufman, Leslie (April 15, 2011). "At State Level, G.O.P. Seeks Big Environmental Cutbacks". The New York Times.
- National Tribal Air Association (February 9, 2011). "Maine Governor Proposes 63 Clean Energy and Environment Reversals". Ntaatribalair.org. Retrieved August 15, 2011.
- [dead link]
- "Endorsements- Save Maine's Bear Hunt". September 24, 2013. Retrieved September 24, 2013.
- "LePage calls for ending term limits for Maine legislators". Kennebec Journal. March 20, 2014. Retrieved March 20, 2014.
- "LePage says legislative term limits should be ‘thrown out the window’". Bangor Daily News. March 20, 2014. Retrieved March 21, 2014.
- "Maine Democrats cheer Supreme Court decision; Republicans attack health care law as tax hike". Bangor Daily News. June 28, 2012. Retrieved July 2, 2012.
- "LePage calls Obamacare an expensive stripping away of freedom, says IRS is 'new Gestapo'". Bangor Daily News. July 7, 2012. Retrieved July 7, 2012.
- "LePage vetoes Medicaid expansion, says ‘Maine can do better’". Bangor Daily News. June 17, 2013. Retrieved January 17, 2014.
- "LePage blasts Legislature’s tilt toward Medicaid expansion". Kennebec Journal. January 17, 2014. Retrieved January 17, 2014.
- "LePage makes $50K donation to treatment center". Boston Herald. July 3, 2013. Retrieved July 19, 2013.
- "Maine’s got too many hospitals, LePage says". Bangor Daily News online. August 14, 2013. Retrieved August 14, 2013.
- ABC News. "Health News & Articles - Healthy Living - ABC News". ABC News. Retrieved June 30, 2015.
- "FDA approves user-friendly device to reverse opioid drug overdoses". BostonGlobe.com. Retrieved June 30, 2015.
- "Heroin overdose antidote: Who gets to carry it? – The Washington Post".[dead link]
- Maine Lawmakers Consider Heroin Overdose Drug
- Gagnon, Matthew (October 13, 2009). "Interview With Paul LePage". Pine Tree Politics. Retrieved January 15, 2011.
- "Most Maine top elected officials steer clear of gay-marriage issue". Kennebec Journal. November 5, 2012. Retrieved November 21, 2012.
- "LePage blasts teachers union for endorsing same-sex marriage question". Bangor Daily News. May 25, 2012. Retrieved July 20, 2012.
- Higgins, A.J. (October 8, 2010). "LePage Backs Away from Human Rights Act Remarks". Maine Public Broadcasting Network. Retrieved January 15, 2011.
- Eric Russell (March 4, 2015). "LePage vows to spend ‘rest of my days’ fighting opponents of income tax cuts". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
- "LePage: Let's eliminate Maine income tax". Kennebec Journal. May 20, 2013. Retrieved May 21, 2013.
- Eric Russell (November 8, 2014). "Republicans elect new Maine legislative leaders". Kennebec Journal. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
- Cover, Susan (December 9, 2011). "LePage's cuts would hit seniors hardest, advocates say". Portland Press Herald. Retrieved December 10, 2011.
- Richardson, John (December 10, 2011). "Shifting the burden of health-care costs". Portland Press Herald. Retrieved December 10, 2011.
- Audio recording posted on YouTube, retrieved October 27, 2013
- "Maine governor claims ’47 percent of able-bodied’ Mainers don’t work". The Washington Post.
- "Maine Gov. Paul LePage says 47 percent of able-bodied Maine residents aren't working", PolitiFact, Tampa Bay News, October 23, 2013, retrieved October 27, 2013
- "Opponents attack LePage on ‘47 percent’ comment, governor says it’s all about welfare excess". The Bangor Daily News. Retrieved June 30, 2015.
- Moretto, Mario (December 20, 2013). "LePage says EBT card fraud ‘far bigger’ problem than he imagined, plans deeper investigation". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved December 20, 2013.
- "COMMENTARY: LePage’s naughty and nice list". Central Maine. Retrieved June 30, 2015.
- "LePage threatens to cut assistance funding to cities that continue to aid undocumented immigrants". Bangor Daily News. June 24, 2014.
- "LePage urges Thomas College graduates to seize their own destinies". Bangor Daily News. May 12, 2012. Retrieved July 9, 2012.
- "LePage signs executive order on suicide prevention". Kennebec Journal. Retrieved September 10, 2013.
- Staff reporters (January 16, 2011). "Jamaican joined LePage household as teen". Portland Press Herald. Retrieved January 16, 2011.
- David Taintor (January 20, 2011). "LePage Spox Defends Governor's Referencing Of Black 'Son'". talkingpointsmemo.com.
- Mario Moretto (August 14, 2014). "LePage buys $215,000 home in Boothbay, his first Maine property in four years". Retrieved August 14, 2014.
- Governor Paul LePage official government site
- Paul LePage for Governor
- Paul LePage at DMOZ
- Appearances on C-SPAN
|Governor of Maine
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