In recent months, I have written about a number of politicians either currently or formerly in office, who defy the norms of dignity, fairness, impartiality and legality (Louis Gohmert, Sarah Palin, Dennis Hastert, to name just a few). I once wondered what I would write about after the 2016 election ended, but I now see that the insanity extends far beyond just Trump, and it appears that I shall never run out of ‘blog fodder’. Today’s subject is none other than the Governor of Maine, one Paul LePage.
Donors to the National Resources Council of Maine (NRCM), a highly regarded environmental group, received the following letter from their governor this week:
I’m writing to make donors to Natural Resources Council of Maine aware of this organizations
true intent. While everyone supports a healthy environment, NRCM is doing it at the expense of
good-paying jobs for rural Mainers who are desperate for employment.
It is easy for out-of-state visitors, residents of wealthy coastal towns and those living in Southern
Maine to support the perceived policies of the Natural Resources Council of Maine. Since this
group of donors enjoy low rates of unemployment, nice homes and neighborhoods and thriving
and successful businesses, they may be unfamiliar with the harsh crisis facing rural Maine,
especially in Northern and Downeast [sic] Maine.
The job-crushing, anti-business policies of NRCM are preventing rural Mainers from getting the
kind of jobs they need to raise themselves out of poverty.
NRCM is the chief supporter of the preservationist movement that is holding Maine back. The
organization has blocked reasonable mining regulations that would provide high-paying jobs to
rural families in Northern Maine; promoted unilateral executive action to establish a national
monument — even though several local communities have voted strongly against it — that would eliminate hunting and timber harvesting from thousands of acres; and has proudly blocked any significant hydroelectricity development over the last 40 years. These policy decisions have
contributed to the decline of the manufacturing base that has been an anchor for rural Maine and has employed generations of. sportsmen and women.
Maine has traditionally balanced the stewardship of our environment, while also ensuring that
our population has economic opportunity. This balance is vital to providing opportunities for
prosperity to rural Mainers. If we support economic development at the expense of the
environment, we will have a natural disaster. If we support the environment over economic
development, we will continue to have severe poverty.
NRCM is not interested in a balance. It is an activist group that says “no” to every opportunity to
allow Mainers to prosper, and it is working to make rural Maine a national park virtually devoid
of human activity or meaningful employment. I would request that you carefully review
policy positions before donating to them in the future.
You may not realize that your financial support of NRCM pays for a lavish office building that is
just a block from the State House — a short walk for its highly paid lobbyists to push their anti-
business agenda on legislators — while residents in places like Calais or Millinocket or Mars Hill
cannot afford even modest, middle-income homes. NRCM recently spent your money to rent
buses and transport activists from Southern Maine to a meeting in Orono to push for a national
monument in the Katahdin region, something the Legislature and town after town in rural Maine
have voted to oppose.
Folks in rural Maine have neither the time nor the resources to attend these meetings or travel to
the State House and lobby for the good jobs they need. NRCM should not be leading the charge
to deny life-changing economic opportunity to poverty-stricken people in rural Maine.
I understand and appreciate your desire to support Maine’s environment and precious natural
resources. However, please understand that your financial support of NRCM is costing rural
Mainers good jobs and keeping them mired in poverty. I urge you to ask NRCM to take a
balanced approach that both protects our environment and provides prosperity for the people
who live in it. I firmly believe human life is the greatest asset on this planet.
Paul R. LePage
There are at least three things very wrong with this letter. The first is that the names and addresses of donors should never have been used in this way, in fact, should never have been obtained by the governor’s office, let alone used in this way. The governor’s office claims they obtained the names and addresses from the organization’s public documents, but the public reports actually contain only names, not addresses. The second thing wrong is that throughout the letter, LePage bemoans the unemployment rate in Maine, but on researching this, I find that the rate of unemployment in Maine is 4.7%, precisely the same as the national average. Third, Maine has a significant tourism economy that is largely driven by its natural beauty, clean air, fresh water, and uninhabited spaces. As such, it is imperative that Maine preserve its environment, which is precisely what NRCM is doing.
My research shows that NRCM, established in 1959, has been recognized and awarded dozens of times for its work on behalf of a wide variety of environmental issues. They have a staff of only 24, with 16,000 plus supporters and volunteers. Among their awards are the EPA’s Climate Award and the United States Department of the Interior’s Cooperative Conservation Award. Does this sound like the evil organization portrayed by Governor LePage?
This is not the first time LePage has been at the heart of controversy:
- In 2011, he was criticized for refusing to attend Martin Luther King, Jr. Day events or to even meet with leaders of the NAACP. In response to the criticism, he replied, on camera, that they could “kiss my butt”. Perhaps not criminal, but surely not smart, either.
- One of his first moves as governor in 2011 was to ‘roll back’ certain existing environmental laws, claiming that there “hasn’t been any science that identifies that there is a problem”. He defended the restoration of BPA in bottles by saying, with a smirk, that the worst that could happen was that “some women may have little beards.”
- For months he refused to allow his commissioners to testify before legislative committees and ordered state employees not to speak to the state’s largest newspaper chain.
- His advice to students in the State of Maine? “If you want a good education, go to private schools. If you can’t afford it, tough luck. You can go to the public school.”
- He has likened the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to the Gestapo and, when criticized for the remark, claimed the agency’s enforcement of Obamacare would cause a slaughter comparable to the Holocaust.
- He told schoolchildren that Maine’s newspapers are full of lies and joked about bombing the largest of them, the Portland Press Herald.
- LePage said he would like to lower the legal working age from 16 to 12
And the list goes on, but you get the idea. I wonder if he was, perhaps, a graduate of “Trump University”? Recently he made the comment that “guys by the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty bring heroin to Maine and half the time they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave.” Does this remind you of a certain someone and his comments about immigrants from Mexico?
The good news is that this letter and his rant against NRCM has renewed support for the environmental group and many have said they plan to send additional donations. LePage’s current term will end in 2019, and he has expressed an interest in running for a senate seat in 2018. Given his latest antics, it seems unlikely that he could win a race for senate or even for re-election as governor. But then, who knows? The voters sometimes seem to forget quickly. Not surprisingly, by the way, he endorsed Donnie Trump in February. Two peas in a pod?