Maine Governor Blacklists Newspapers After They Expose Administration’s Anti-Environment Commissioner

(Credit: AP)

Following a critical series of articles in three Maine newspapers this week, Maine Gov. Paul LePage’s (R) office has cut off those papers’ access to administration officials.

The same week the Portland Press Herald, the Kennebec Journal, and the Morning Sentinel published an in-depth analysis of the administration’s work to undermine environmental protections, a spokeswoman told them they would no longer respond to requests, even for public documents, because the newspaper’s parent company “made it clear that it opposed this administration.”

The papers conducted an extensive investigation into a former corporate lobbyist appointed by LePage to be commissioner of Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). What they found was that Patricia Aho has fought environmental laws and enforcement since her appointment in 2011. The positions she has taken include blocking implementation of a 2008 law to protect youth from dangerous chemicals, reducing enforcement on land developers, rolling back recycling programs, and purging information from the Department’s website. Each of these efforts benefit her former clients in the chemical, drug, oil, and real estate industries.

In one article, the Press Herald describes a DEP with significant limitations placed on staff. Colin Woodard quotes a former director saying, “There was an immediate gag order put on staff and on staff’s ability to freely interact with the public and talk about environmental concerns or to make requirements of people.” The DEP has eliminated tens of thousands of pages from its website, including the official state climate change report.

Certain tactics carry over into other areas of LePage’s administration, considering its new policy to limit staff interaction with journalists doing their jobs. LePage himself has fought against increased wind energy targets, while touting conspiracies like the wind industry faking it with electric motors to pretend “wind power works.”

LePage has also threatened to veto an energy bill that increases energy efficiency and renewable energy targets.

24 Responses to Maine Governor Blacklists Newspapers After They Expose Administration’s Anti-Environment Commissioner

  1. Mike Roddy says:

    This is scary. You expect loony tune governors in Texas and Georgia, but sober, honest Maine?

    LePage is a Chris Christie clone, just another greedy, loudmouthed bully. What is wrong with us that causes us to elect these guys?

  2. Timothy Hughbanks says:

    Paul LePage’s (R) office has cut off those papers’ access to administration officials.

    Gee, what a shame. The Maine papers will no longer have access to the governor’s propaganda ministers.

  3. catman306 says:

    Time to investigate LePage’s campaign contributions. I’ll just guess that some of them were used in some way that’s not in keeping with campaign finance laws.

    Greed Rules.

  4. It is too bad the Eliot Cutler did not win. He was a founder of a major environmental law practice. Things would have been so different. From Wikipedia, Cutler “served as Associate Director for Natural Resources, Energy and Science in the Office of Management and Budget in the Carter administration”

    Cutler is running again in 2014 as an Independent.

  5. This is why “journalists” are so obsequious to pols. I like Jay Rosen’s take on the problem.

  6. Voyager says:

    It’s called FREEDOM of the press. But I guess he doesn’t like that idea. Only when it glorifies him. Creep.

  7. zoom314 says:

    Le Page needs to be torn out of Maine Government, like maybe impeachment? If that is possible in Maine.

  8. Ryne Zuzinec says:

    can you say lawsuit and direct violation of the first amendment rights of the press? he is only mad because they are digging into his administration. people of maine have a right to know what is going on. heres to the next SCOTUS case!

  9. Brianna Amore says:

    The planet can’t wait until these fat, old, white anti-environmental douchebags die off.

  10. darren says:

    The sad thing is, is that over 60% of us in maine voted against him. Problem was those votes were split among an independent and the democrat. Most of us knew this guy was a sleaze before he even took office.

  11. Ric Haustein says:

    How can LePage cut off access to public documents? Doesn’t the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) apply in Maine?

  12. Joan Savage says:

    Governor LePage’s refusal to share public documents with the press may violate the Maine Freedom of Access Act.

  13. Joan Savage says:

    FOIA applies only to federal documents, not state.

    But our minds were headed in the same direction, as Maine has its FOAA.

  14. AB says:

    What is “wrong” is that the state’s vote was extremely split between an independent candidate and the democratic candidate. So despite 61.7% of the state voting for anyone but LePage, his 38.3% ended up being the most support for a single candidate.

    So believe me when I say, the vast majority of Maine voters did not want this guy in office.

  15. Gus diZerega says:

    It was because he and the Democrats had bigger egos than brains that led to LePage winning a three way split. If progressives in Maine, especially cutler, really cared about the state they would push for majority vote elections with instant run offs rather than giving LePage a chance at a second term./

  16. Joan Savage says:

    I hope the 38.3% that voted for him are reconsidering their choice, as well.

  17. Joe D says:

    This guy was suppose to be the Kinder gentler type. Is there Recall provisions in Maine ?
    LePage it is called freedom of the Press you closet dwelling NAZI

  18. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    Fist past the post entrenches the two big parties. They will never go for run offs or preferential voting.

    Have a look at Tasmania’s voting system.

  19. hardtohandle says:

    Keep splitting the Democratic ticket by voting for independents. That’ll get Republicans in office every time, and THIS is what you get. Enjoy!

  20. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    As Walter Karp pointed out in ‘Indispensible Enemies’, if there is a strong, insurgent, candidate, either and Independent or a renegade from the duopoly, the big parties will co-operate to crush it, and ensure that a mainstream candidate always wins. It’s unsurprising to see that the tradition lives on.

  21. Gus diZerega says:

    Especially when progressives never talk about it. Many states have initiatives.

  22. Gus diZerega says:

    Especially when progressives are too dim to use initiatives in states that have them to get versions of majority vote installed.

  23. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Plenty more young ones coming along-often much, much, worse.

  24. kermit says:

    I now very much regret voting for Mr. Obama the second time. If we never vote for independents, then the Democratic Party never has to do anything real, simply be less awful than the Republican candidate, and speak in complete sentences. I’m sorry, that’s not good enough.