Archive for December, 2014

MPW’s Top 14 of 2014

Posted on December 31, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Well, it’s that time again- the annual review! MPW had 9000 page views in 2014, with almost 3000 in July alone and 2100 visitors that month. January was the quietest month with 480 visitors clicking 760 times. Easily the most popular video was this one dubbed “The Speech” of now former Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson (D-Allagash) at the Maine Democratic Convention, which has had almost 20k views:

“I’m running because of income inequality, poverty, unfairness, corporate greed and political cowardice. I’ve known these things my entire life. And I have watched them wreck communities and tear people’s lives and their families apart. And during those cold nights in that small shack along the river, I never would’ve thought that one day I’d have the opportunity to do something about it. And if I am lucky enough to pull this off, I damn sure intend to.”

And now “The List”:

1. JUNE: (UPDATED) Breaking: LePage Met “Multiple Times” with FBI Known Domestic Terrorist Group, Discussed Executing Democratic Leaders 

paul janetBefore even hitting “send” on this draft write-up, there have been new developments of note (“LePage denies he discussed ‘executing’ Maine Democratic leaders”), as LePage has this evening called the managing editor of the Bangor Daily News- twice– and has either claimed:

  • That this all didn’t happen/ portions of it happened.
  • There was no five page memo/ well, maybe there was/ well, okay, there WAS a five page memo regarding the legality of arresting and executing members of Democratic leadership.
  • He was going to sue both the BDN and Mike Tipping for the story.

2. (MAY) Paul LePage and Gary Alexander: A Timeline

 A bit of quick bGary Alexander and associate Erik Randolph exit Maine HHS Committee hearing, 1/14/14.ackground on this post. While Mainers knew that Tea Party Maine Governor Paul LePage, who won election in 2010 with 38% of the vote, was virulently anti-ACA and fought hard against multiple attempts to expand Medicaid in our state (to date, five bills have been vetoed and then sustained by the GOP in the Legislature), many did not know to what extent the LePage Administration worked or what steps lead to where we found ourselves last week as news of the #LePlagiarism scandal first broke. Thus it became necessary to piece together all of the to the administration (LePage in 2011 first offered him the DHHS posit various known elements and create this timeline, illustrating who Gary Alexander is and how he became knownion that eventually went to Mary Mayhew), as well as the various actions taken by the Governor and his staff.

A year ago, most in Maine had no idea never heard of Gary Alexander. That is no longer the case, as now federal authorities are now looking into the matter.

3. AUGUST: (UPDATED) Maine Sovereign Citizens, er, “Constitutional Coalition” Send “Courtesy Notice” to ALL Maine Lobbyists

Oh my- looks like Paul LePage’s buddies have “GONE ROGUE”.

Check it out all you lobbying kiddos; you have ALL. BEEN SERVED.

First the blast email (thankfully their CAPLOCK ISSUE APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN SOMEWHAT FIXED) that Aroostook Watchmen radio host Jack McCarthy [or whomever posted, using the name “Jack McCarthy”] mailed out, late this afternoon- to every single registered Maine lobbyist.

Protip: Someone wanna tell Ole Jack [or whomever posted, using the name “Jack McCarthy”] what a “bcc” is? Thanks awfully!

100_0295

    Attention Kind Maine Lobbyists:

Be it known by these presents, the attached pdf file, titled “COURTESY NOTICE”, which details are self explanatory but specifically …

Government Charters Cancelled: (Refer: DECLARATION OF FACTS: UCC Doc # 2012127914 Nov 28 2012)

“…That any and all CHARTERS, inclusive of The United States Federal Government, UNITED STATES, “STATE of …”,

Inclusive of any and all abbreviations, idem sonans, or other legal, financial or managerial forms, any and all international equivalents, inclusive of any and all OFFICES, inclusive of any and all OFFICERS, PUBLIC SERVANTS, EXECUTIVE ORDERS, TREATIES, CONSTITUTIONS, MEMBERSHIP, ACTS, and any and all other contracts and agreements made thereunder and thereby, are now, void, worthless, or otherwise cancelled, unrebutted; …”

You have been served,

All Persons Foreign and Domestic

4. JULY: (UPDATED) “Arrest for Treason/ Execution” Docs Released, Proving LePage Lied to BDN, Re: Sovereign Citizens Talks

A review of last night’s two phone calls by Maine Republican Governor Paul LePage to the managing editor of the Bangor Daily News (“LePage denies he discussed ‘executing’ Maine Democratic leaders”).

The first call:

lepage sots angry self

“I was never in the room where ‘execute’ was used,” the governor said in a phone call to the BDN managing editor.

“It never happened,” he said later in the call. “We did not discuss execution, arrest or hanging.”

When told that the audio of the show was included on Tipping’s blog, LePage said he wanted to see the tapes.

“None of this stuff ever happened,” he said again. He said he talked with the group about the U.S. and Maine constitutions. Further, he said, he disagreed with much of what the men said.

“I listened and listened and listened,” LePage said. “Some points they were making were reasonable and some were off-the-wall.”

The second call by LePage:

In a second phone call to the BDN, LePage said he didn’t know about a Freedom of Access Act request that Tipping had filed to secure details of his meetings because “no one told me about it.”

He said he didn’t stop meeting with the Sovereign Citizens after the FOAA request was filed, as Tipping contends, but stopped meeting with them “because they were not listening.”

“They got mad and called me all kinds of names,” he said.

LePage said the group called again Monday to meet with him after Tipping’s blog post, but he said “no way.”

5. (AUGUST): Governor LePage, er, “Lewiston Mayor Bob MacDonald” on “Elusive Central American Children” Goes Off On Both Dems & The Rails

OccGovernor Paul LePage sits at Governor James G. Blaine's Congressional desk (10/12/13).asionally it is always nice to read some of the smaller and more locally focused publications around the state, such as the Auburn based Twin City Times, to see what folks are supposedly saying.

“Twin City Times” just happens to be edited and published by Maine Governor Paul LePage’s communications director Peter Steele. Make note of that fact, because it’s kinda important.

One can get a real feel for the sentiments locally of what is happening in Augusta by checking these papers out, especially if that region’s elected officials take to their keyboards and submit opinion pieces of note for their constituents’ consideration.

But when the governor’s own head press guy is editing, then publishing the articles himself, there is the nagging feeling that possibly Paul LePage said it himself.

This rings especially true in light of recent revelations that according to Mike Tipping’s “As Maine Went”, LePage in January 2010 created the pseudonym “ForThePeople” as to be able to post anonymously and write a series of posts to sway voters and help himself in that year’s Republican primary.

So there is a very VERY strong perception here that “Lewiston Mayor Bob Macdonald” is in reality a really badly hidden sockpuppet version of Maine Governor Paul LePage. While it makes sense, it is also a rather strange twist, considering in the past it was LePage who was reported to be the “puppet”.

6. JUNE: UPDATED: #MEGOV LePage Skips NE Governors’ Regional Opioid Abuse Summit; Dismisses as “Chit Chat”

Earlier this month, Governor LePage issued a statement on the then newly released 2013 drug-induced Governor Paul LePage takes a question from NBC national correspondent Kate Snow during "war on drugs" press conference.death statistics in Maine, which read in part:

“Our Administration is focusing on the fact that Maine is subject to ever-increasing numbers of out-of-state drug trafficking organizations establishing drug markets in the state. This disturbing trend tears at the very fabric of our communities and puts our children at risk.

As I have said in the past, we must be proactive in combating drug dealers and target our limited resources to better protect our communities.

I think we all agree we also need to find more effective and efficient ways to treat addicts and provide them options that lead to successful long-term outcomes. In fact, the State has increased substance abuse funding in recent years from $7 million to more than $9 million. However, until we are able to curb the amount of drugs coming into our state, we will likely see the number of drug-induced deaths continue to rise.”

So with that in mind, it was quite startling to learn that LePage intended to skip a private meeting of all New England governors held at Waltham MA’s Brandeis University today with the goal of regionally addressing opiate abuse, sharing information and developing strategies.

7. (FEBRUARY): BREAKING: Feds Find LePage, MDOL Officials Intervened in Unemployment Hearings (UPDATED X 9, W/ Timeline)

Reaction from Maine AFL-CIO President Don Berry:

“The federal government has confirmed what we knew to be true, that the Governor was wrong to interfere in the unemployment insurance process by asking hearing officers to rule more often in favor of employers. This is another message from Governor LePage to struggling Maine workers that he is not on their side. When you lose your job, times are very tough. Workers need to know they have a fair process to seek the support that they deserve. Instead of kicking them when they are down, we need a Governor who will support laid-off workers getting back on their feet.”

Legislative Democrats and their allies were quick to condemn the LePage administration, with Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash, a longtime LePage rival and Democratic candidate for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District seat, calling for his impeachment.

Sen. John Patrick, D-Rumford, who chairs the Legislature’s Labor Committee, said the Department of Labor’s findings came as little surprise.

“This is a good thing because everyone in Maine knows the governor uses the bully pulpit to express his feelings about his political views and politics,” said Patrick. “After this, I wonder how you can trust the governor to move forward fairly and in an unbiased way. The citizens of Maine expect that whether it’s a Democrat, a Republican or a Green, that we are fair to our businesses and employees.”

Jackson was less guarded in his response.

“I think he should be impeached,” said Jackson of LePage. “The governor thinks he should be the next [Wisconsin Gov.] Scott Walker, but he should be thinking about being the next [impeached and jailed Illinois Gov.] Rod Blagojevich.”

 

8. FEBRUARY: BREAKING: Governor LePage Reneges on $100M Jobs Bonds; Bounces $59M State of Maine Check

bounced check

In an email to State Treasurer Neria Douglass, Governor Paul LePage reneged and cancelled his authorization of nearly $100 million in bond monies for projects across Maine.

Douglass shared the message with the state’s budget writing committee on Thursday afternoon during a previously scheduled briefing on the state’s debt service or interest for the bonds.

“Governor LePage has broken a $59 million contract with businesses and workers across Maine. The line has been crossed when the governor’s emotional volatility starts hurting Maine’s economy and Maine’s workers,” said Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash. “I am concerned for the businesses and projects that have started their work and now hear that the governor has changed his mind.”

According to Douglass, per the directive from Governor LePage, she has already issued $59 million in funding from the state’s cash pool to help fund key projects in the administration’s work plan. These projects were approved and signed off on by Governor LePage and his department officials on July 31, 2013.

“The Treasurer raised serious concerns about the message the Governor is sending to credit agencies and businesses. He’s broken his word,” said Assistant House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe from Skowhegan. “Worse, he’s playing games with critical investments in construction projects like roads and bridges that will help Maine’s economy.”

9. MARCH: ME Sen. Rodney Whittemore (R-Somerset) on LD 1487: Expansion a “Malignant Cancer of Dependency”

Senator Rodney Whittemore (R-Somerset) on LD 1487, “An Act To Implement Managed Care in the MaineCare Program”, gave a rather provocative floor speech yesterday, in which he compared the proposed bill sponsored by fellow GOP Senators Assistant Majority leader Roger Katz (R-Kennebec) and Tom Saviello (R-Franklin) to a “road of hopelessness” and a “malignant cancer of dependency”.

10. (APRIL) 2nd CD Democratic Candidates Troy Jackson, Emily Cain Answer Questions at Lewiston Forum (VIDEOS)

Androscoggin County Democrats hosted a candidate forum at the L/A USM campus for the open Second Congressional District seat, vacated by Rep. Mike Michaud who is now running for Governor.Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson answers questions of USM L/A student Jihan Omar on the needs of immigrants.

Conducted by former Rep. Elaine Makas, the two primary challengers Troy Jackson and Emily Cain were asked questions on a number of topics. While the pair were on similar pages on many of the topics, their styles in approaching their answers appeared to contrast this race most for the large audience in attendance.

“Troy reminds me a little more of myself,” said Jimmy McHugh, a retired boilermaker from Mexico. “I love to hear someone like him talk about the struggles I’ve had to go through. He’s a regular guy, like me.”

11. FEBRUARY: UPDATED: Eliot Cutler Confuses “Independent” With “Passive Aggressive” In Attacks Against Non-Supporters

And then we have this one- an Independent (a REAL one, not the old “just like Maine!” tired old chestnut from 2010 or member of the Tea Party, but a real honest-to-gosh, old-fashioned Maine Independent like we USED to know) who-

Wait for it-

Issued an endorsement of Mike (Nov 6).

And then had the sheer audacity, as a currently serving member of the 126th Maine Legislature, to have the samepublished as an op-ed in the Bangor Daily News!

Some excerpts of Rep. Jeffrey Evangelos‘ share:

evangelos“As the only independent in the Maine House of Representatives who does not caucus with either party, I am pleased to announce that I am supporting U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud for governor. I plan on campaigning for Michaud during the 2014 election season.

Mike Michaud will make a terrific governor of our state. He has the two characteristics that are sorely lacking in the current administration in Augusta: humility and common sense. He’s a good listener, thoughtful and respectful. It will be such a breath of fresh air when Michaud is elected as our next governor.

Why am I throwing my support to Michaud rather than fellow independent Eliot Cutler? Cutler’s successes have come on the wrong side of the economy at the expense of common people. His relationship as a director of a bankrupt mortgage company, Thornburg Mortgage, whose former top executives are facing allegations of fraud, and his employment and association with the Dallas-based international consultancy Akin Gump, where outsourcing jobs to China is part of the mission, disqualifies Cutler as a person who can lead Maine out of this serious recession Maine people are experiencing.

Contrast this with Michaud, a paper mill worker who understands what it means to keep and develop good paying jobs in Maine.”

Cutler 2010 campaign garbage, image courtesy of perrenial dumpster divers "As Maine Goes".

Well! As one can imagine, that last must have caused Cutler to practically fly to his desk, shove everything to the ground and fire off his own crushing rebuttal (“Eliot Cutler: Focus on real issues, not recycled 2010 garbage”), also published in the BDN.

12. JULY: (UPDATED) Paul LePage and Sovereign Citizens “Maine Constitutional Coalition”: A Timeline

13. FEBRUARY: UPDATED x2: Maine House Votes Down Controversial Religious Discrimination Bill LD 1428, 89-52

Rep. Andrew McLean (D-Gorham) addresses colleagues during LD 1428 debate.

12:45pm UPDATE: House just voted 89-52 to accept the Judicial Committee “ONTP” (Ought Not to Pass) recommendation moments ago, 89-52.

This was the final vote on LD 1428; it is now dead.

Roll call vote shows 5 GOP members broke with their party to join Democrats: Reps. Beaulieu of Auburn, Campbell of Orrington, Libby of Waterboro, MacDonald of Old Orchard Beach and Maker of Calais. 2 House Democrats voted for the bill: Rep. Stan Short (D-Pittsfield) and Steve Stanley (D-Medway).

Over 2 dozen rose to speak on the measure in a lengthy floor debate. Some quotes:

Rep. Matt Moonen (D-Portland):“Please vote to end the war on gay people in our state.”

Rep. Justin Chenette (D-Saco): “Religious freedom is important, but this bill makes me feel like a second-class citizen… Name me an issue in Maine — I still haven’t heard one. There isn’t an issue. This is a bill searching for a problem, rather than solving one. This wastes taxpayer money… It’s fiscally responsible to oppose it.”

UPDATE #2 (1:45pm): Maine House Democrats issued a press release with more quotes from legislators:

“This is not a bill about religious freedom; it will only create religious discrimination,”said Rep. Charles Priest of Brunswick, who chairs the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee. “Maine’s law and constitution has strong protections for religious freedom. This bill is not necessary.”

“This fight will continue across the country. Many states still do not have a human rights law that covers sexual orientation. But in Maine our voters have settled this, ” said Rep. Matt Moonen of Portland, during the floor debate.

14. ICYMI/UPDATED: Is LePage’s “Outrage” A Politicized Continuation of Ongoing General Assistance/ Immigrant Battle?

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Cathy Breen of Falmouth (Finally) Wins Long-Contested Senate District 25 Race

Posted on December 18, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Was the dispute less about the Senate and more about back room shenanigans?

Chair Senator Roger Katz (R-Kennebec) asks Deputy Secretary of State Julie Flynn a question during Tuesday's hearing. Also pictured (L-R) Senators Stan Gerzofsky, Garrett Mason, Bill Diamond, Dawn Hill, Andre Cushing and Tom Saviello.

Chair Senator Roger Katz (R-Kennebec) asks Deputy Secretary of State Julie Flynn a question during Tuesday’s hearing. Also pictured (L-R) Senators Stan Gerzofsky, Garrett Mason, Bill Diamond, Dawn Hill, Andre Cushing and Tom Saviello.

Maine got a preview of what to expect in 2015 thanks to the now-resolved “Who won Senate District 25?” question last week. For a month, Mainers had speculated as to what occurred. It seemed impossible that 12% more ballots than actual participating voters materialized out of thin air; something funky had to have happened. But what? No one knew for sure, but everyone had an opinion.

A petition calling for officials to “investigate potential voter fraud” garnered 3200 signatures. Representative Janice Cooper (D-Yarmouth) took a sterner approach:

    “One of two things has to happen to put this matter to rest: the state attorney general or the U.S. Attorney should immediately conduct a thorough, independent criminal investigation of the circumstances of this discrepancy, one that involves questioning all relevant witnesses under oath and forensic experts.”

Senate President Mike Thibodeau went against Secretary of State Matt Dunlap’s recommendations by provisionally seating Manchester:

    “The fact of the matter is that we have had a recount and the results of that recount left Cathy Manchester as the apparent winner. Because some folks are not happy with that outcome, they’re throwing around some pretty wild accusations.”

Why the rush? Simply put, Republicans needed her vote later that same day on the Constitutional officers, as they were within one vote of replacing Attorney General Janet T. Mills. Seating Manchester gave one more vote to their surprise candidate, Bill Logan, the GOP recount attorney.

Got that? Manchester was quickly shoved into office so she could vote for her own lawyer. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Thibodeau eventually named a seven member Investigative Committee. Spoiler alert: Democrat Cathy Breen’s originally reported 32 vote lead held.

Tuesday’s public hearing was held in the packed Legislative Council chamber with only live audio feed available for those not in the room.

Deputy Secretary of State Julie Flynn was the first witness. Sworn in before a room full of media, lawyers, candidates and election officials, armed with a 4″ binder full of documentation and 25 years of recount experience, she confidently gave detailed testimony for hours. Frankly, it was pretty dry stuff and with 30 people scheduled to speak after her, a quick resolution seemed unlikely.

To break it down, imagine the 171 ballots as a deck of cards, but divided into 3 piles of 50 with a leftover stack of 21. Take each stack individually and divide into 3 smaller groups: Breen, Manchester and Other (No Votes). Write down the results from that first group, rinse and repeat for the rest of the stacks, then add them up. Long Island officials tallied 95 Breen, 65 Manchester and 11 Other equaling 171 votes cast, but the Augusta recount team came up with 21 more for Manchester, totaling 192. The ballots had been bundled with tally sheets designated as “A1, A2, A3 and A4″.

One 50 ballot lot had a total of 21 votes for Manchester, catching the eye of former Secretary of State Senator Bill Diamond (D-Windham). He remarked to Flynn, “On A3… it just jumped out at me, because Manchester had 21 votes … is there any way… that number could be, could have been… is there anything unusual about that number?”

Flynn had no answer and appeared momentarily flustered. She did not answer and continued to discuss the next lot.

The committee decided next to examine the ballots and it was quickly surmised that Diamond’s instincts had been spot-on, as the first lot had only 29 ballots instead of 50. A second recount immediately confirmed the 21 A3 ballots had been added in twice.

Manchester addressed the senators to announce her intention to offer a formal letter of resignation to President Thibodeau and congratulated Senator-elect Breen on her win.

The governor issued a statement, “I thank Senate President Thibodeau for his integrity throughout this process, in which liberals falsely accused Republicans of trying to manipulate the election with so-called ‘phantom ballots’. President Thibodeau followed the proper procedure to ensure the electoral process was upheld while awaiting the final decision from the Senate committee. It is unfortunate that Cathy Manchester had to endure a situation that was created entirely by the Secretary of State’s office during the recount.”

As for Thibodeau, his only response was, “You can’t read my word balloon, man.”

The Senate will meet in January and will have to vote to seat Breen.

—–

(Published in the 12/18/14 edition of DigPortland)

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UPDATED: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Recount*

Posted on December 1, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

UPDATE: Despite the fact that the panel of seven senators that will be tasked with resolving the SD 25 election has not even yet been selected and named, let alone met to take up the messy problem, the Maine State Senate webpage has been amended to give the win to the Republican candidate, Cathy Manchester:

    About the 127th Maine State Senate

    All members of the 127th Maine Senate have been elected to serve a two-year term. Of the 35 members, there are 21 Republicans and 14 Democrats. Eight are women (4 Republicans and 4 Democrats) and 27 are men (17 Republicans and 10 Democrats).

The link to NEW Contact Information for Members of the 127th Maine Senate (excel spreadsheet) continues to have Democrat Cathy Breen as the winner.

A pair of press conferences were held on Monday with each side repeating their stance as to whether what occurred was a mistake or something more deliberate:

    “It appears that there was just a clerical error that 21 ballots didn’t get counted. And we’re glad they’ve been counted. But we want to find out for sure,” said Senator Roger Katz, R-Augusta.

    “We expect Republicans to share this concern of potential ballot tampering because, again, this is not about a political party, it is about the integrity and confidence we can all have when we cast our ballot,” said outgoing Senate President Justin Alfond D-Portland.

———-

Senator Elect Nate Libby of Lewiston is congratulated by Secretary of State Matt Dunlap.

Senator District 21 Elect Nate Libby of Lewiston is congratulated by Secretary of State Matt Dunlap.


Before Thanksgiving, the Secretary of State’s office was tasked with settling a handful of disputed elections, as happens periodically. At one point, WCSH and MPBN reported there would be recounts in Senate District 2 (Aroostook County) and 13 (Lincoln County). But later it was confirmed that the requests for both had been withdrawn.

That left three races for resolution in Senate Districts 11, 21 and 25. These recounts were a result of either being automatically generated due to the closeness of the initial tallies or per request of a candidate. Preliminary totals via BDN:


    Senate District 11 (Waldo County), Democrat Jonathan Fulford versus Mike Thibodeau. According to unofficial election results compiled by the Bangor Daily News (the Secretary of State’s office has not yet posted its results), the incumbent Thibodeau won the seat 9,064 votes to 8,949, a 115-vote margin. Thibodeau, the former Senate minority leader, was nominated by his Republican peers Friday to be president of the Senate for the 127th Legislature, though that is subject to approval by the full Senate when it convenes in December.

    Senate District 21 (Lewiston), Democrat Nathan Libby versus Republican Patricia Gagne. According to the BDN’s unofficial results, Libby was victorious by a vote of 6,636 to 6,572, a 64-vote margin. This seat was formerly held by Democrat Margaret Craven, who opted not to seek re-election.

    Senate District 25 (part of Cumberland County), Democrat Catherine Breen versus Republican Cathleen Manchester. According to the BDN’s unofficial results, Breen took the seat by a vote of 10,897 to 10,890, a seven-vote margin. This seat was previously held by independent Richard Woodbury, who opted not to seek re-election.

The manual examinations included recounting all ballots separately for each municipality within the district, searching for any potentially overlooked ballots accidentally tucked into stacks of absentee envelopes, ensuring that the overseas ballots from other areas of the state were either not accidentally included or that overseas ballots were not accidentally omitted and investigation of all rejected ballots.

The process of recounting the ballots is methodical, meticulous, slow and tedious work, carried out by Deputy Secretary of State Julie Flynn and her staff in the Florian Room of the Maine Public Safety Building in Augusta. The entire proceedings, open to the public, included teams made of an official from the Secretary of State’s office working with both a registered Democratic and Republican volunteer. There were attorneys for both parties available throughout the recounts to weigh in on disputed ballots, irregularities and the like, as well as other support staff tabulating the final tallies before the final certification for each race.

Results were made public by Secretary of State Matt Dunlap in press releases and on Facebook.

Senate District 25 recount began at 9am.

Senate District 25 recount began at 9am on November 18.

    (Friday, Nov. 14) Senate District 11: “In the State Senate District 11 recount, results show that Republican Michael Thibodeau is the winner. Jonathan Fulford (D) received 8,974 votes, while Thibodeau received 9,109 in the recount.”

    (Monday, Nov. 17) Senate District 21: “The State Senate District 21 (City of Lewiston) recount is now complete. Results show that Democrat Nathan Libby remains the winner, with 6,646 votes to Republican Patricia Gagne’s 6,563.”

    (Tuesday, Nov. 18) Senate District 25:

And here’s where “a funny thing happened”.

By 5 pm on the 18th, not only was there no clear winner after all of the present ballots were re-examined, but it was told to this reporter that a box of ballots had been discovered to still be in Westbrook and being brought to Augusta by Maine State Police- an unusual turn of events that meant a further delay of SD 25’s final results.

Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap

Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap

Even funnier- later on that evening, Secretary of State’s office issued the following statement:

    The State Senate District 25 final results will be decided by the Senate. The recount showed a reversal in the apparent winner, with Catherine Breen (D) getting 10,916 votes and Cathleen Manchester (R) getting 10,927, but the results were not accepted by both candidates.

    When the Legislature convenes in January, its standing Senatorial Vote Committee will review the situation and make a recommendation to the full Senate on which candidate should be seated for the full term. (The committee is made up of four majority and three minority members.) The Senate will then make the final determination of which candidate to seat, typically no later than January.”

Soon it was learned that at the center of the dispute were not ballots from Westbrook, but rather almost 2 dozen new GOP ballots from Long Island. Immediately calls for a full investigation into potential voter fraud began:

    Unanswered questions remain about 21 ballots from the town of Long Island that can’t seem to be attributed to any voter. The ballots were discovered on Nov. 18, the night of the recount, and all of them contained a vote for Republican Cathleen Manchester of Gray, who had requested the recount.

    During an election, wardens at each polling place keep track of which registered voters have cast ballots. This ensures that no one gets to vote twice. The incoming voter list, or “voter manifest,” in Long Island indicated that 171 residents cast ballots either in person or absentee in this year’s election.

    Attorneys Katherine Knox (D) and Bill Logan (R) examine a disputed ballot.

    Attorneys Katherine Knox (D) and Bill Logan (R) examine a disputed ballot.

    That’s the same number of votes presented by warden and Town Clerk Brenda Singo in unofficial results relayed on election night to the Bangor Daily News and the Associated Press. Long Island, a town of about 230 residents, has only one polling place, and Singo was the only warden.

    However, when the locked box of ballots was opened during the recount, 192 ballots were found. Put simply, there are 21 more ballots from Long Island than there are documented voters.

Incoming Senate President elect Mike Thibodeau, who himself had been subject to a recount, had this to say:

    “I think the committee could convene and go over the results on swearing-in day. We’ve got to figure out if Cathy Manchester has the most votes. It’s unfortunate to throw around terms like that without some sort of substantial evidence. The fact of the matter is that we have had a recount and the results of that recount left Cathy Manchester as the apparent winner. Because some folks are not happy with that outcome, they’re throwing around some pretty wild accusations.”

Rep. Janice Cooper (D-Yarmouth) represents House District 47, which consists of Yarmouth, Long Island and Chebeague Island, has called for Attorney General Janet Mills to look into the matter.

    “One of two things has to happen to put this matter to rest: the state attorney general or the U.S. Attorney should immediately conduct a thorough, independent criminal investigation of the circumstances of this discrepancy, one that involves questioning all relevant witnesses under oath and forensic experts.

    Senate Asst Majority Leader Andre Cushing, President Mike Thibodeau and Majority Leader Garret Mason

    Senate Asst Majority Leader Andre Cushing, President Mike Thibodeau and Majority Leader Garret Mason

    Our state Constitution provides that it’s up to the Senate to decide the qualifications of its members. However, that does not absolve state or federal prosecutors from doing their job. The Senate president-elect says he will appoint a special committee to look into the matter. However, whether or how independently that investigation is conducted is up to them. Because a majority of the committee will be members of the same party as the recount winner, the outcome is bound to be suspect as politically biased unless the investigation is truly impartial and thorough.

    It’s entirely appropriate for a political body to make political decisions, as we do on proposed legislation or nominations. Sometimes, however, the Legislature must act in a quasi-judicial role, which is not easy.

    Years ago, I was counsel to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee in an impeachment case concerning removal of a federal judge for alleged conspiracy to commit bribery. The case came to the House with a massive record from a criminal trial, grand jury and independent counsel’s investigation. Nevertheless, the House also conducted its own investigation, subpoenaing and deposing witnesses under oath, conducting forensic investigations, etc. We then presented our case first to the House of Representatives and then to the U.S. Senate. For the most part, the proceedings followed judicial rules of evidence. The judge was impeached, convicted and removed from office.

    This is what a quasi-judicial legislative inquiry should look like. Whether the Maine Senate is prepared to go to this length remains to be seen. Frankly, they don’t have the resources or the expertise, even if they had the will.

    That’s why we should leave it to professional prosecutors to conduct the inquiry. The Senate can seat whom it wants, but whether that decision stands or is set aside by the courts would very likely hinge on the outcome of a professional inquiry. Nothing less will do.

*Apologies to Stephen Sondheim et al

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