The year’s frenetic events in Maine’s statehouse mark a turn towards increasingly incendiary, winner-take-all politics. But the histrionics also underscore a more insidious problem: Maine’s weak accountability and transparency laws aren’t keeping up with the new pace of politics here, and lawmakers are doing little to change course.
This dynamic has earned Maine an F and a numerical score of 59, placing it tied for 42nd among the states in the 2015 State Integrity Investigation, an assessment of state government accountability and transparency conducted by the Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity. Continue Reading →
Gov. Paul LePage is considering legislation to amend the state constitution, but history shows that is an uphill battle. Of the approximately 1,200 amendments proposed, only 172 have been approved by the legislature and voters and been enshrined in the constitution, according to records at the Maine State Law and Legislative Reference Library. Continue Reading →
Gov. Paul LePage inserted himself into a state law enforcement proceeding about a religious discrimination case and threatened to go to court if the legal process was not postponed, according to an internal memo.
The governor, however, said he was not interfering, but only trying to make sure there was no “ethical breach” in the case involving an audio recording he had been told was edited. Continue Reading →
The number of fundraising events appears to have slowed during this last month as campaigns have accelerated their efforts to raise money from everyday citizens, not just high-dollar donors, through phone calls and emails. Continue Reading →
New England’s leading media association has awarded two of its top journalism awards
to The Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting. The New England Newspaper and Press Association on Thursday recognized the Center with two Publick Occurrences Awards for its expose called, “Rx for Theft,” and its profile of governor Paul LePage. The press association presented 12 Publick Occurrences Awards this year for “the very best work that New England newspapers produce … whether it’s individual or team stories, series, spot news coverage, columns or photojournalism …”
Newspapers of all sizes, from large dailies to weeklies to small online media such as the Center, competed for the awards. The Center was the only news organization to win two of the awards this year. In awarding the prize to Center senior reporters Naomi Schalit and John Christie for their series on pharmacists who steal drugs, the judges said, “The report showed that the Maine pharmacy board was too lax in reissuing licenses. Continue Reading →
A conflict over ethics between Gov. Paul LePage and a member of the state’s Public Utilities Commission has been settled in the short term, but threatens to produce more controversy over the long term. Continue Reading →
Gov. Paul LePage has rejected Public Utilities Commissioner David Littell’s decision to recuse himself from voting on a case involving bottled water giant Nestle Waters and the Fryeberg Water Co. Littell claims he has a conflict of interest because he previously worked at a Portland law firm that represented Nestle and the water company. Lepage says that isn’t enough to disqualify him for voting on the case. Continue Reading →
Nearly 30 years ago, Harper’s Magazine created its Harper’s Index, ©, a one-page listing of “ironic statistics arranged for thoughtful effect.” The Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting herein launches our annual Maine version of the index, derived from stories we’ve reported over the years. Continue Reading →
This week, the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting published Senior Reporter John Christie’s in-depth profile of Maine Gov. Paul LePage, “The Book on Paul LePage: The ‘biggest, baddest person around’ crashes Augusta’s ‘nicey-nicey’ club.”
But after six months of reporting, not everything Christie knows about LePage made it into the story. Watch a two-part interview with Christie, where he talks about LePage’s golf swing,
about what the story headline really means and why he chose to tackle the subject in the first place. Christie interview, Part 1 and Part 2
MPBN’s Irwin Gratz also interview Christie, and here’s that audio interview, in two parts:
MPBN interview, Part I
MPBN interview, Part II
If you want to know how to set up an interview with a governor who is famously averse to the press, you can also read Christie’s Reporter’s Notebook, “How we got the LePage story,” right here.
And last month, the Center published a two-part series, “RX for Theft, on pharmacists who abuse and steal drugs. The professional group for investigative journalists, called “Investigative Reporters and Editors,” interviewed senior reporter Naomi Schalit about how she got that story — she calls it “recreational data cruising” — and you can read that account at “Behind the Story: Maine pharmacists get licenses despite history of drug abuse.”
Continue Reading →
On July 16, Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting publisher and senior editor John Christie interviewed Gov. Paul LePage in the Blaine House dining room. LePage’s wife Ann was present for part of the interview as was press aide Peter Steele. What follows are verbatim outtakes from that 90-minute interview. Continue Reading →