Maine House Rejects HO #34, 96-52

Posted on January 18, 2016. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Last Thursday the Maine House of Representatives took up House Order 34, “Establishing the House Special Investigative Committee”, sponsored by Rep. Ben Chipman (D-Portland), calling for a special committee to investigate allegations of multiple incidences of wrongdoing by Governor Paul LePage. Ultimately the House voted 96-52 to indefinitely postpone the measure, effectively killing any further action towards impeachment. Full floor debate is below.

Roll call of the vote here.

From the House Journal:

    (4-3) On motion of Representative CHIPMAN of Portland, the following House Order: (H.O. 34) (Cosponsored by Representatives: BABBIDGE of Kennebunk, BEAVERS of South Berwick, BEEBE-CENTER of Rockland, BLUME of York, EVANGELOS of Friendship, RYKERSON of Kittery, SAUCIER of Presque Isle, WARREN of Hallowell) WHEREAS, the Constitution of Maine, Article IX, Section 5 provides that every person holding any civil office under this State may be removed by impeachment for misdemeanor in office; and WHEREAS, the Constitution of Maine, Article IV, Part First, Section 8 vests in the House of Representatives the sole power of impeachment; and WHEREAS, grave and serious allegations have been raised regarding the conduct of Governor Paul R. LePage; now, therefore, be it ORDERED, that the House Special Investigative Committee is established to investigate allegations of misfeasance, malfeasance, nonfeasance and other misconduct by Governor Paul R. LePage and to make a recommendation to the full House of Representatives as to whether cause exists for impeachment. The committee shall conduct a comprehensive review of allegations of misconduct by Governor LePage, including but not limited to the:

    1. Refusal, beginning in 2012, to facilitate the issuance of land conservation bonds that were ratified by the voters of the State in statewide elections held in November 2010 and November 2012 and repeated insistence on extracting compliance by the Legislature on unrelated issues prior to the Governor’s carrying out the will of the people of the State regarding issuance of the bonds;

    2. Alleged use of state assets as leverage to bring about the resignation in 2013 of the President of the World Acadian Congress, Jason Parent;

    3. Exertion of pressure, in March 2013, on hearing officers in the Department of Labor, Bureau of Unemployment Compensation to favor employers in their decision making;

    4. Refusal, beginning in May 2013, to allow cabinet members and members of the administration to appear and testify before legislative committees;

    5. Alleged use of state assets as leverage to bring about the resignation in January 2015 of the President of the Maine Community College System, John Fitzsimmons;

    6. Request, in February 2015, that the Maine Human Rights Commission postpone a proceeding against a particular business pending before the commission and threatening to withhold state assets when the commission declined to postpone the proceeding;

    7. Creation, in April 2015, without public notice in violation of Maine’s Freedom of Access Act, of a panel to conduct a review of the Maine Human Rights Commission; and

    8. Alleged use of state assets as leverage to intimidate the Board of Directors of Good Will-Hinckley in June 2015 into terminating its employment of Mark W. Eves, the Speaker of the House of Representatives; and be it further ORDERED, that the House Special Investigative Committee consists of 13 members appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives or the Speaker’s designee, 6 of whom are appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives upon the recommendation of the House Minority Leader, and that the first-named member is the chair of the committee; and be it further ORDERED, that the House Special Investigative Committee:

    1. Shall adopt rules to govern the proceedings before it in order to ensure due process, fundamental fairness and a thorough investigation;

    2. May administer oaths and compel the attendance and testimony of persons and the production of papers, documents and other evidence under oath, by subpoena, when the testimony, documents or evidence is necessary for or incident to any inquiry relevant to the business or purposes of the committee and punish any person for the neglect, refusal to appear or failure to produce papers or documents or provide evidence commanded by subpoena or who, upon appearance, either with or without subpoena, refuses to be sworn or testify or produce papers, documents or evidence demanded;

    3. May hire special counsel and such other personnel as may be necessary to carry out the committee’s responsibilities; and

    4. Following its review and investigation of the facts and circumstances relating to the alleged misconduct of Governor Paul R. LePage, shall submit to the House of Representatives no later than April 1, 2016 its findings and recommendations in the form of a final report, including, if the committee concludes such action is warranted, articles of impeachment describing the misdemeanors in office with which Governor Paul R. LePage is charged. The committee may request from the Speaker of the House of Representatives or the Speaker’s designee extensions of time to complete its work.

Multiple interviews followed the conclusion of the day’s work.

1. Representatives Chipman and Gay Grant (D-Gardiner)

2. House Minority Leader Ken Fredette (R-Newport)

3. Speaker of the House Mark Eves (D-N. Berwick)

4. House Majority and Asst Majority Leaders Jeff McCabe (D-Skowhegan) and Sara Gideon (Freeport)

Governor LePage issued a written statement to the press:

    “As I have said all along, this impeachment nonsense was nothing more than a political witch hunt that had absolutely no merit. While some members of the Legislature were obsessing for months over this foolishness, I have been working on the real issues that matter to the Maine people.”

    “Just today, I was the keynote speaker at the Mid Maine Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting, where I spoke about the drug crisis facing our state, lowering taxes and reducing student debt to keep our young people here. I met with the State Employee Health Commission to discuss how to reduce the cost of health care, and I had a lunch meeting with a group of manufacturers to discuss how reducing energy costs can help them create more jobs.”

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Maine House Release Resolution Condemning Governor Paul LePage

Posted on January 13, 2016. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Statement put out by Maine House Democrats this evening:

    House resolution affirms lawmakers’ commitment to Maine values
    Resolution includes pledge to honor commitment of public office

    AUGUSTA – The Maine House on Thursday will take up a resolution that affirms lawmakers’ commitment to the standards the public has the right to expect of its public officials.

    DSC_0120“We have the opportunity to show Maine people – and indeed the rest of the nation – that we stand for the Maine values of civility, progress and respect for diverse ideas and backgrounds,” said Assistant House Majority Leader Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, who is offering the House resolution. “No matter what our political affiliation, we reject the politics of retribution, intolerance and divisiveness. We take seriously the commitment we made to serve Maine people.”

    Gideon and House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe on Wednesday invited all members of the House, regardless of party affiliation, to support the nonpartisan resolution. Under the resolution, members pledge to “honor the responsibilities entrusted to us by the people of the state.”

    “At a time when Maine is grappling with serious challenges, we should come together and remind ourselves and our constituents that we need to rise above partisanship for the people of Maine,” said McCabe, D-Skowhegan. “We have a drug epidemic that is taking the lives of five Mainers each week, a need for good-paying jobs and an economy that continues to lag. To move forward, we need healthy debate without fear of retribution. This nonpartisan resolution is an important first step.”

The resolution is below.

The House will take up the resolution, along with what could be the first steps towards impeachment of the governor, tomorrow morning.

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GOC Co-Chairs Katz, Kruger Detail Support for OPEGA’s Report on LePage/ Good Will-Hinckley

Posted on December 4, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

After months of examinations, interviews, subpoenas and more, the Maine Government Oversight Committee (GOC) yesterday got closer to ending their part of the ongoing LePage/ Good Will-Hinckley/ Speaker Eves saga by finally accepting the Office of Program Evaluation & Government Accountability (OPEGA) report (more to be written on this later).

More videos will be released later on, but it is well worth focusing on the statements of the committee co-chairs, GOP Senator Roger Katz of Augusta and Democratic Representative Chuck Kruger of Thomaston, as they detailed for fellow committee members why they were accepting the exhaustively and thoroughly prepared investigative analysis by OPEGA director Beth Ashcroft and her team.

Statements (as prepared and read to the Government Oversight Committee, 12/3/15)

Senator Roger Katz (R-Kennebec):(Outline)

Our job – to get facts out on table for all to see – for everyone to draw own conclusions.

Done that.

Thank Beth and her staff for a fine job.

Committee’s job is done. Now up to others if anything happens from here.

Few comments:

Speak for myself on few points– I think my colleagues agree:

1. As we look at what happened it should make no difference at all whether each of us is a Republican or a Democrat. Unique nature of committee– Bipartisan – six and six.

2. Should make no difference in how review the facts whether this governor is a Republican or Democrat. Whether his name is Bakdacci or LePage or any other name.

3. We are talking about the facts of these events only involving Goodwill Hinckley. Others have suggested that we view these events in a larger context of an alleged PATTERN of conduct by the chief executive– – but this is clearly not our mandate….and we have not done so.

4. We should view these events in the context of “politics” a sometimes rough and tumble sport. We cannot be naïve about this.

5. Many people will ask “were any laws broken?” But that analysis is beyond the scope of our work. We haven’t looked at that question nor have we sought any legal opinions on that question. This is not the forum to answer the question.

So, what have we learned after a rather exhaustive process involving numerous interviews, review of many documents, and a full day of testimony taking under oath?

GOC Co-Chair Roger Katz (R-Augusta) gives his reasons for full acceptance of the OPEGA report investigating allegations of wrongdoing by Governor Paul LePage

GOC Co-Chair Roger Katz (R-Augusta) gives his reasons for full acceptance of the OPEGA report investigating allegations of wrongdoing by Governor Paul LePage

Here is what I think we have learned:

Goodwill Hinckley needed a new president.

Their Board undertook a recruitment and application process.

As a result of that process, the Board decided it was in the best interest of the school to hire a Mark Eves….and they voted unanimously to do so.

The Board offered the job to Mark Eves and he accepted.

The governor learned of the hiring and was upset by the hiring. The governor believed that goodwill Hinckley was making a mistake – the Governor believed that Mark Eves lacked the credentials to be an effective leader of school.

At that point, a number of the ministration officials, including, the acting Education Commissioner, a senior aide, and the Governor himself–all communicated to Goodwill Hinckley that if Mark Eves were hired, discretionary state funding of approximately $500,000 per year would be withdrawn….that money that the school was depending on would be pulled.

Learning of this, the Harold Alfond Foundation became concerned about its own investment. The President of the Foundation worried that if state funding was withdrawn, the school might not be able to expand its student population and meet other performance goals. Based on this, the Foundation decided to reevaluate its own multi-million dollar financial commitment to the school and communicated that to school officials.

Good Will-Hinckley now found itself in a terrible position. The school now faced the loss of state funding and possible loss of Alfond Foundation funding – both of which could cause the school to default on a bank loan and lead to potential foreclosure on some of its school real estate.

In the face of these facts, the board decided to fire Mark Eves.

Did members of the Administration actually threatened to draw the funds? On this question, we have the key testimony of four people:

    Jack Moore – Chair of the Board
    Rich Abramson, acting President of Good Will-Hinckley
    Sara Vanderwood – lobbyist for Good Will-Hinckley, and
    Greg Powell – President of the Alfond Foundation

All four are skilled in the use of the English language. All four of them of them could not have been more clear in their testimony to our committee. All four of them reached exactly the same conclusion – that members of the Administration conveyed to them that if Mark Eves were hired that state funding would likely be pulled at the direction of the Governor.. I reach this conclusion myself beyond a reasonable doubt. It quacks like a duck, it walks like a duck – I think it’s a duck.

On top of that, the most compelling evidence from comes from the Governor himself who stated in no uncertain terms on camera that he threatened the funding withdrawal.

There are those who will say “you are right – that is exactly what happened but that the governor was completely justified in what he did. That it is perfectly appropriate to step in because of his belief that Mark Eves was unqualified for the job.

I don’t agree myself, for a couple of reasons:

First of all, Good Will-Hinckley is a private non-profit institution. It may receive some government funding, but it is still a private organization. As such, I believe they have a right to make their own hiring decisions without fear of interference by anyone on the outside – especially something from the government. There are literally hundreds of similar private entities that receive state funding of one kind or another. I worry about the precedent this case sets if this kind of executive action becomes the new normal. Are we entering an era when private institutions will feel a need to give politicians a veto power over their internal hiring decisions? I certainly hope that is not the road we are going down. This is hardly speculative thinking. I have already heard in the last few months about one private organization that had exactly this concern as it went through a hiring process of its own.

The second concern I have is with respect to my colleagues in the legislature – present and a future….and the First Amendment. We are a Citizen Legislature—most of us have other jobs. I hope we will not get to the point where legislators start weighing their votes–worrying that if they push the wrong button their own present or future employment might be in jeopardy. We can’t do our job if every vote, every floor speech, is viewed through the lens of “what if”.

Again, this is one person’s view—one of twelve. As I said earlier, I am proud of the work of OPEGA and I am proud of the work of this committee and respect the views of each and every one of my colleagues, all of who are also struggling to do the right thing.

Representative Chuck Kruger (D-Thomaston):

The role of this committee is to shine a light.

The actions of Governor LePage as they relate to Good Will-Hinckley and Speaker Eves raised serious questions about our government and political system. We had before us questions about the abuse of public office and taxpayer dollars and allegations that threats were made – and carried out – against an organization for at-risk youth to exact retribution against a political rival.

These are questions that could shake the faith of Maine people in their government. We owe it to them to get to the bottom of this matter.

Representative Chuck Kruger (D-Thomaston) reads his

Representative Chuck Kruger (D-Thomaston) reads his statement, urging support for the OPEGA report.

If an elected official is able to use the power of his office to punish a lawmaker for his voting record, who among us is safe?

Are any of us as lawmakers?

What about everyday Mainers or independent organizations?

They need to be able to go about their business without worrying about crossing the wrong person in power. As elected officials, our consciences and constituents– not the fear of intimidation and retribution – must guide our actions.

These serious concerns moved some of our legislative colleagues – Republican, Democratic and independent – to request an investigation.

We, as a committee, unanimously determined that OPEGA should investigate. That strong bipartisan vote showed how seriously we take our duties. We remained just as committed to them when others tried to undermine this effort and even attacked our work and our mission.

OPEGA produced an excellent, impartial report that spelled out what happened.

We now know with complete certainty that the governor used state dollars to threaten Good Will-Hinckley because it hired Speaker Eves and that funds were withheld and restored only after Speaker Eves was fired from his new post.

Now, with our fact-finding mission drawing to a close, it’s up to others outside this committee room to decide what comes next.

I believe that this investigation and this report can be valuable tools, and I urge the Legislature to take action so nothing of this sort ever happens again. This is what’s needed to ensure the people of Maine can have confidence in our system of government.

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Weekly Message of Governor Paul LePage: We cannot wait any longer to fight drug dealers

Posted on December 1, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

AUDIO: We cannot wait any longer to fight drug dealers

Governor LePage addressing attendees at UMF town hall, 9/22/15

Governor LePage addressing attendees at UMF town hall, 9/22/15

    We cannot wait any longer to fight drug dealers

Heroin is raging in our state, and it is killing Mainers every week. We need less talk on this deadly pandemic and more action.

Hello, this is Governor Paul LePage.

Everyone agrees Maine’s heroin problem has escalated into a public health crisis. But politicians differ on how to handle it.

My administration is focused right now on attacking the supply side of the problem. We need more law enforcement officials on the streets, hunting down drug dealers and stopping them from selling poison in our state. However, as we have said repeatedly, we are not looking to arrest drug addicts. We are going after the organized drug dealers who run these illegal operations like a very profitable business. We need to shut them down wherever we can.

We absolutely agree that more treatment, education and recovery efforts are needed. If the Legislature wants to create a comprehensive plan to increase both law enforcement and treatment, we welcome it. The Legislature has the ability to prioritize funding for this comprehensive plan when they go through the budget. Unfortunately, like everything else the Legislature does, it will take a long time to come up with the plan—and even longer to implement it.

We can’t stand by and watch Mainer after Mainer die from heroin or other lethal opiates while the Legislature is mulling over their plan.

As Maine is plagued with the worst drug epidemic in history, MDEA is shortest staff than ever. We first proposed 14 new agents in March 2014, but the Legislature only approved 4 new drug enforcement agents in July. That’s not enough.

We need to build a pipeline for hiring and training new agents so as some are hitting the streets, more are coming in for training. But the Legislature has delayed these law enforcement efforts for a year-and-a-half. As the drug crisis is rapidly accelerating, we are falling behind in resources to stop the supply. The Legislature can determine the timeline for funding the new agents. I just need to know they are serious about creating these positions no later than Jan. 2016. But if they continue to stall and wait around for an unspecified plan to increase treatment, I will move ahead without them. As they contemplate how to create a plan, Mainers are literally dropping dead.

If they have not informed me by December 10 that they are planning to fund these new agents, I will take action.

That’s why I will use every resource available to me to fight these drug traffickers, including temporary support from the National Guard.

Every life is worth saving, and we will do whatever is necessary to prevent the death of one more Mainer.

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Governor LePage Staff Testify Before Maine Gov’t Oversight Committee (VIDEOS)

Posted on November 23, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Testimony given under oath to the GOC over the course over almost eight hours relating to the ongoing investigations into allegations of the governor’s actions against Good Will-Hinckley school in their hiring of Speaker of the House Mark Eves. Recorded 11/12/15. In order:

Aaron Chadbourne
Cynthia Montgomery
Tom Desjardins
Suzan Beaudoin
Rich Abramson
Sara Vanderwood
Jay Nutting
Bill Brown
Gregory Powell

 

Committee next meets on December 3.

Via a second camera, the testimonies of the three LePage staffers and administration officials subpoenaed to testify are available separately.

Link here to the published OPEGA report on LePage/ Eves/ Good Will-Hinckley: Information Brief on State Funding for Good Will-Hinckley

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Maine Gov’t Oversight Cmte (GOC), Gov. LePage/ Good Will Hinckley Public Hearing (ALL VIDEOS)

Posted on October 17, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Pt 1

Pt 2

Pt 3

Jack Moore, Chair of Good Will-Hinckley Executive Board

GOC Chairs Senator Roger Katz, Representative Chuck Kruger meet with press

Senator Katz speaks with WMTW at end of hearing

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Speaker Eves’ Legal Team File ‘Notice of Claim’ Against Governor LePage with Attorney General’s Office

Posted on August 12, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Attorneys for Maine Speaker of the House Mark Eves filed a state law claim against Governor Paul LePage today with the state’s Attorney General. From an accompanying press release by David Webbert:

 

David Webbert of Johnson, Webbert & Young, LLP speaks to press while Speaker Mark Eves looks on (July 2015).

David Webbert of Johnson, Webbert & Young, LLP speaks to press while Speaker Mark Eves looks on (July 2015).

Today, I filed a new notice of claim under Maine law against Gov. Paul LePage on behalf of Speaker Mark Eves.

The attached written notice explains why Speaker Eves has a very strong state law claim against the Governor for intentional interference with employment.  Not only did the governor violate federal law, but he also violated Maine law when he blackmailed Good Will-Hinckley to coerce it into firing Speaker Eves. This state law claim adds to the Speaker’s case against the Governor and will be considered as part of the lawsuit in federal court.

Maine law requires that this notice be filed with the Office of the Governor and the Attorney General. It also requires that Speaker Eves wait 120 days after filing this notice before he can add this state law claim to his lawsuit filed in federal court on July 30, 2015.

Here is the notice of claim.

*RELATED: “Mark W. Eves Vs Paul R. LePage” Federal Civil Lawsuit Filed In U.S. District Court

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“Mark W. Eves Vs Paul R. LePage” Federal Civil Lawsuit Filed in U.S. District Court

Posted on July 30, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Photos here of the press conference held today on the steps of the courthouse in Portland.

 

 

 

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Rep. Jeff Evangelos, Sen. Chris Johnson Speak Publicly on Gov. LePage Investigation

Posted on July 21, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

As part of their monthly meeting held in Newcastle last night, Lincoln County Democrats invited State Senator Chris Johnson (D-Somerville) of the Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee and State Representative Jeff Evangelos (I-Friendship) to speak about the ongoing investigations of Governor Paul LePage and Good Will-Hinckley.

The clip is just over an hour long and includes discussions by both legislators, as well as a lengthy Q&A session with the audience, which numbered as many as 40 people at one point. Some quick observations via Instagram here, as the meeting was occurring.

More photos of the meeting can be found here.

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*RELATED: ANALYSIS- Governor LePage & Good Will-Hinckley (NEW)

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Weekly Message of Governor Paul LePage: Fighting for a government free of fraud and abuse

Posted on July 7, 2015. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

AUDIO LINK HERE: Fighting for a government free of fraud and abuse

image001Fighting for a government free of fraud and abuse

No one in the State of Maine cares more for at-risk kids than I do. I was an at-risk kid. I have been there.

Hello, this is Governor Paul LePage.

I know what it’s like to grow up in a dysfunctional household with an abusive parent. I know what it’s like to live on the streets where crudeness and violence are so normal that the rest of the world seems foreign. I also know what it’s like to feel alienated in a public school system that doesn’t understand the needs of the at-risk kids. I care about all Maine kids, and I care about the at-risk youth at Good Will-Hinckley.

governor_lepage_350When I heard Good Will-Hinckley had hired Speaker of the House Mark Eves to run their charter school for at-risk kids, I thought it was a joke. If Speaker Eves had his way, no charter schools would have ever opened in Maine. He worked his entire political career to oppose and threaten charter schools in Maine. He is the mouthpiece for the Maine Education Association. Giving taxpayers’ money to a person who has fought so hard against charter schools would be unconscionable.

Supporters of Speaker Eves, including his admirers at the Portland Press Herald,, have portrayed him as a nice family man who is being persecuted for simply trying to get a job. That is pure political spin, and the Maine people know it.

Mark Eves enjoys the prestige and the perks that come with his powerful position as Speaker of the House. However, like most professional politicians, he does not like having to defend his voting record. And that record is crystal clear: Eves has been the most visible and most powerful opponent of charter schools in Maine.

Regardless of his efforts to close charter schools, he wanted a cushy job at a charter school that paid $150,000 in salary and benefits. You can’t make this stuff up. The media is bending over backward to defend Eves, but Mainers see it for what it is. It’s a political hack-o-rama at its worst.

Unlike prior presidents at Good Will-Hinckley who hold advance degrees in education administration and have had long careers as educators, Speaker Eves’ only qualification was being a politician in Augusta, where he’s used his position to oppose charter schools and to threaten the existence of the very organization he sought to lead.

I have spoken out against people in powerful positions who have abused the taxpayers’ trust at the expense of the Maine people. Former legislator Paul Violette, the past head of the Maine Turnpike Authority, went to jail for enriching himself and misappropriating public money.

Another former legislator, Dale McCormick, past head of the Maine State Housing Authority, was spending much more public money than was necessary to build housing units for low-income Mainers. She was ousted for her mismanagement of that agency.

These former legislators used their political positions to land cushy, high-paying jobs in which they were trusted to use taxpayer money to improve the lives of Mainers. They abused that trust and had to face the consequences of their actions. The same is true of Mark Eves.

Speaker Eves most recently broke the public trust when he orchestrated closed-door budget negotiations with three other legislative leaders, then forced the 183 other legislators to vote on a budget they did not have time to read. Thankfully, 47 legislators saw through this and voted against it.

I’m sure Mark Eves is a nice family man. He is free to speak his mind personally and politically. But so am I. When I disagree with Speaker Eves or any other politician and when I see that their actions are not in the best interest of the State of Maine, I will speak up. If Speaker Eves or anyone else wants to sue me in hopes of a big pay day, that’s their right. But I will always fight for the right of the Maine people to have a government that is free from waste, fraud and abuse.

I will not get a big pay day for my efforts. But I will sleep well at night, knowing I did the right thing for the Maine people.

image002

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