It appears LePage is now taking issue with a portion of the mural expenditure that was paid for with federal Reed Act unemployment insurance funds. However, in April of this year an official with the U.S. Department of Labor informed the Maine Department of Labor that the the mural expenditure was justified:The Reed Act permits a participating state to use its Reed Act funds, under an appropriation by the state legislature, for the administration of its [Unemployment Compensation] law and public employment offices. The state properly complied with this requirement in paying, under an appropriation, 63.39 percent of the commission from the Reed Act funds in its [Unemployment Trust Fund] account, since the display of this art work in your headquarters served these administrative purposes.
That’s news to us, and apparently we’re not the only one to miss it: Attorney General William Schneider has filed a content-based defense of LePage’s actions on free speech grounds, arguing that the mural depicted the views of the Baldacci administration and LePage was entitled to express his own by taking it down.The governor should get his story straight. If he has no objection to the mural’s content, he should explain why the state’s lawyers are in court claiming that he does