With the strong backing of the tea party movement, Maine Gov.-elect Paul LePage (R) rode a wave of discontent over bull semen taxes to a surprising victory last month, telling President Obama to “go to to hell” and warning a reporter that he would punch him in the face. On the campaign trail, LePage raged against a what he considered a corrupt state government and “pledged to surround himself with ‘the best and the brightest’ and to avoid political cronyism.” But on Thursday, LePage announced that he had hired his own 22-year-old daughter for a position in the “upper echelon of his administration,” with a salary of $41,000, the Bangor Daily News reports:
Lauren LePage, 22, will serve as assistant to the governor’s chief of staff, John McGough — a position that administration officials describe as entry-level and is commensurate with her experience, work history and education.
LePage, a recent college graduate, will be a salaried political appointee earning approximately $41,000 a year, according to Dan Demeritt, incoming director of communications in the LePage administration. [...]
Maine governors have wide discretion in creating staff positions within their offices, filling those positions and setting salaries. Because such appointments are political positions — known as “special assistants to the governor” — there are no rules barring Maine’s chief executive from hiring family members.
“According to the current administration, the average entry level salary is $30,000.” Indeed, the minimum starting salary for a certified teachers in Maine is only $30,000, and that requires extra study. Meanwhile, the entry-level salary for a Maine State Police officer is just $36,000 after graduation from the police academy.
And as Maine progressive blog Dirigo Blue points out, LePage’s daughter will also be moving into the governor’s mansion with her father. With taxpayers footing the bill for her rent, utilities, food, and other expenses, “Not only will Lauren be earning $41,000 in direct income, but she’ll be making another $12,000 or more indirectly.”
Maine Democrats Executive Director Mary Erin Casale called the hiring a “brazen display of political nepotism,” but LePage aides said the position is “entry-level and is commensurate with her experience, work history and education.” It’s worth noting that Lauren LePage received her education in Florida, where she paid in-state tuition — not studying politics — because LePage’s wife violated tax laws by claiming residency in both Maine and Florida. (She was eventually ordered to pay back taxes).