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

Posted on February 27, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

(5pm UPDATE, x9): 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.”

———-

(3:30pm UPDATE, x8): More reactions from Maine lawmakers and first mention of calls for LePage’s impeachment.

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.”

———-

(2:30pm UPDATE, x7): Here comes the national focus. Via The Nation: “Maine’s Paul LePage Might Just Be the Worst Governor of All”

———-

(2pm UPDATE, x6): U.S. Congressman and Maine Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud took to Facebook and Twitter to issue a statement:

    “Both employers and employees should have confidence that the state is treating them fairly and following the rules. It’s clear from the U.S. Department of Labor’s letter that Gov. LePage allowed his personal bias against Maine workers to create a situation in which impartial hearing officers felt threatened. His actions and the actions of his appointees were inappropriate and reinforce a disturbing pattern of mismanagement and intimidation.” – Mike

———-

(1:45pm UPDATE, x5): Maine Senate and House Democratic leaders and members of the legislature have now issued a press release.

    “For three years we have heard story after story about the Governor’s intimidation and bullying tactics. Today, the cat’s out of the bag. Governor LePage and his political appointees will stoop to any level of intimidation to get what they want,” said Sen. Troy Jackson of Allagash, the Senate Majority Leader.

    “This is further confirmation of the governor’s ongoing mismanagement. He is governing by intimidation,” said House Majority Leader Seth Berry of Bowdoinham. “He is trying to hurt working Mainers.”

The Legislature’s bipartisan Government Oversight Committee has been reviewing the matter since April 2013 and will discuss the Federal Government’s findings during their meeting tomorrow at 9 a.m.

    “The federal investigation shows that our concern about political interference from the administration was legitimate, and validates the need for a closer look at the hearings process generally,” said Senator Emily Cain the Senate Chair of the Government Oversight Committee. “I am not relieved by these findings. There continue to be questions about the lengths to which this administration will go to get its way.”

Rep. Chuck Kruger, the House Chair of the Government Oversight Committee, requested an investigation into the claims of worker intimidation following initial media reports on the March meeting at the Blaine House.

    “At the time we requested the investigation we sought to sort rumor from fact,” said Rep. Kruger. “The federal findings confirm our fears of an attempt to unduly influence hearing officers. We will be reviewing the letter for recommendations and next steps.”

———-

(1:30pm UPDATE, x4): Maine State Employees Union President Ginette Rivard has released a statement:

    Statement by Ginette Rivard, President of the Maine State Employees Association, SEIU Local 1989, Concerning the Report of the United States Solicitor of Labor on Improper Interference by the LePage Administration in the Unemployment Appeals Process:

    “After conducting an exhaustive and careful investigation, the United States Department of Labor issued a report confirming that the LePage Administration sought to unduly influence the decisions of impartial hearing officers employed by the Department of Labor. This report confirmed that the Administration pressured hearing officers to favor employers. The pressure was exerted both directly by the Governor, at a lunch on March 21, and prior to that date by other political appointees.

    “While the conclusions vindicate the earlier claims brought forward by the news media and other sources, the report includes few detailed facts. It recommends that Maine government examine the situation to determine whether additional steps are needed to protect hearing officers from undue political influence.

    “This report confirms that a problem of undue influence existed, both in the March 21 lunch and before. That problem remains, and needs to be addressed. The Governor’s defiant and belligerent response to this report shows that he will not reform his administration on his own. It is time for the Government Oversight Committee to step up to the plate and perform its own investigation into the critical questions that remain:

      1. Did the Administration seek to exert undue influence on the unemployment appeals process, either at the March 21 lunch or at other times?
      2. Are there steps that need to be taken to insulate state workers from political influence?

    “On behalf of MSEA-SEIU and the thousands of state workers we represent, I want to thank the Hearing Officers for their courage in resisting this pressure, and for their dedication to providing a just and prompt hearing process.”

———-

(1pm UPDATE, x3): Maine Department of Labor Commissioner Jeanne Paquette has now issued her own statement:

    “Although this process has generated much controversy, the outcome is positive for both workers and businesses. No one benefits when either employees or employers abuse the system,” stated Commissioner Paquette.

    Maine’s unemployment system by statute gives the authority and responsibility for its adminsistration to the appointed commissioner and the appointed members of the UIC. As commissioner, my job is to ensure not only due process for both employers and employees, but also that the unemployment system is fair, efficient and responsive and follows the law. I appreciate the concerns that both the USDOL and the Blue Ribbon Commission have raised, and I will do my utmost to continue to safeguard both the integrity of the system and the confidence of Maine’s people.”

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(12:30 pm UPDATE, x2): Maine Governor Paul LePage issued the following statement moments ago via press release regarding today’s report:

lepage sots angry self

    “The results of the review are no surprise,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “The USDOL confirmed that there are legitimate concerns about the appeals hearings, which echoes the findings in the Blue Ribbon Commission I appointed. The review found that Maine’s appeals system has not been consistent in applying the law.

    “It is also no surprise that the Obama Administration’s Department of Labor is speculating my administration somehow tried to influence the hearings process,” said the Governor. “This issue has been politically motivated from the start, starting with Democratic activists in Maine and reaching all the way to the White House. The USDOL review found no evidence of wrong-doing, but uses conjecture and supposition to come to a conclusion that has no basis in fact. The focus of my administration is to ensure the appeals process is fair and consistent for both Maine employees and employers.”

———

(12 pm UPDATE WITH TIMELINE)

  • 21 Mar 2013- Maine Governor Paul LePage holds a meeting with MDOL officials and employee compensation hearing officers at the Blaine House.
  • 22 Mar- Hearing officer Wayne Reed sends email to chief hearing officer (4/17/13 PPH):

      “In the decades I’ve been doing this work, I’ve never seen anything like it, from either end of the political spectrum,”
      wrote Wayne Reed. “For purposes (of) keeping political pressure/bias out of (a) quasi-judicial process within the Maine Department of Labor, these are dark times.”

    Reed’s supervisor Linda Rogers-Tomer replied:

      “Despite the pressures that are being placed upon us, we still just have to do our jobs, self-insulating from the politics, doing what we think is right and doing that as expeditiously as possible,” Rogers-Tomer wrote. “I know that in this climate it is hard not to second guess ourselves.”

    She then had a phone conversation with Jennifer Duddy, LePage’s lone appointee to the state’s Unemployment Compensation Commission and later emailed Laura Boyett, director of the state Bureau of Unemployment Compensation:

      “I expressed my angst about (Duddy’s) remarks at the (meeting), mostly about it not being the proper forum for that kind of discussion and (that it) blindsided us,” Rogers-Tomer wrote. “(Duddy) was sorry if anyone felt badly about what she said, but that she had no regrets about saying it or saying it in that forum. I am extremely upset right now, so can’t really talk.”

  • Apr 11- Bangor Daily News reports that state employees accuse the Governor of putting pressure on them.
  • Apr 17- Governor LePage announces “Blue Ribbon Commission” to investigate unemployment compensation system.
  • Apr 18- The LePage administration refused to admit that there is a federal investigation into the claims.
  • May 1- U.S. DOL investigating attorney Letitia Sierra arrives in Maine to speak with 13 attendees of the meeting.
  • Jul 11- “Blue Ribbon” panel members named: Augusta resident Daniel Wathen, a Maine Turnpike Authority board member and former chief justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, and George Jabar II, a Kennebec County commissioner and lawyer from Waterville, as co-chairmen of the panel; others are David Walck, owner and franchisee of several Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants, including one in Lincolnville; Shawn Anderson, chief operating officer of Cary Medical Center in Caribou; Christine Hastedt, public policy director for Maine Equal Justice Partners; and Kristin Aiello, managing attorney for the Disability Rights Center of Maine.
  • Dec 10- LePage’s “Blue Ribbon Commission” reports no bias issues within MDOL’s systems.
  • Dec 13- The feds said to be “finishing up” their investigation.
  • Feb 27, 2014- Feds release findings; confirm LePage pushed jobless benefits appeals officers to show ‘bias toward employers’.

———-

After almost a year of multiple interviews as part of an investigation by federal authorities into allegations that Governor Paul LePage and Maine Department of Labor officials pressured MDOL administrative hearing officers to be more pro-employer in its findings on appeals of unemployment claims, the results of the findings was released this morning and find that the Governor and others did indeed interfere.

The letter can be seen below.

Here may the crux of the matter, as outlined by the Justice Department:

    DEPRIVATION OF RIGHTS UNDER COLOR OF LAW

      Summary:

      Section 242 of Title 18 makes it a crime for a person acting under color of any law to willfully deprive a person of a right or privilege protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States.
      For the purpose of Section 242, acts under “color of law” include acts not only done by federal, state, or local officials within the their lawful authority, but also acts done beyond the bounds of that official’s lawful authority, if the acts are done while the official is purporting to or pretending to act in the performance of his/her official duties. Persons acting under color of law within the meaning of this statute include police officers, prisons guards and other law enforcement officials, as well as judges, care providers in public health facilities, and others who are acting as public officials. It is not necessary that the crime be motivated by animus toward the race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status or national origin of the victim.

      The offense is punishable by a range of imprisonment up to a life term, or the death penalty, depending upon the circumstances of the crime, and the resulting injury, if any.

      TITLE 18, U.S.C., SECTION 242

      Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States, … shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if bodily injury results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include the use, attempted use, or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnaping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.

(This is a breaking news and will be updated as needed.)

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2011 “Blast From The Past”: Why Did Governor LePage Ignore “Labor Day” in Labor Day Weekend Radio Address?

Posted on September 2, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

(As Governor LePage inexplicably decided to take a 4 day weekend (Thanks, Unions!!) off for Labor Day and tasked his MDOL Commissioner Robert Winglass with the Maine.gov Labor Day Weekend radio address, it seemed appropriate to dig up this “blast from the past” post of our own. ~AP)

(Originally posted on 4 Sep 2011)

    “Why Did Governor LePage Ignore “Labor Day” in Labor Day Weekend Radio Address?”
That’s okay, Gov; we got your back on this one! 

I know how you feel about “people spending too much time on the blogs” and all, but hey, no worries! And I’m quite sure that you failing to give even a lil smidge of a mention to “Labor Day” itself in your Labor Day Weekend weekly radio address was just a silly mistake, a mere oversight.

Not a deliberate act and certainly with no malice on your part.

The pro-union folks who gathered last February were all wrong about you!

It’s not like over 1000 people from all over Maine have ever stood out in the freezing cold to get your attention.

Oh, wait…

From March: ME State Senator Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook) Addresses Pro-Union Crowd at Statehouse Rally

That reminds me, sir: When are you going to meet with Senator Jackson and the Maine loggers and will it be soon?

Put your face on a milk Carton!!Because I hate to mention it or anything (boy, is THIS awkward for a high profile public official!!), but it’s very hard to know where you’re gonna be and with whom, as your daily and weekly schedules never, ever, ever have  been released to media.

Not once.

The first time this has been the case for a sitting Maine governor in thirty years, by the way.

Do we need to start looking for you in the dairy case??

And it’s not like hundreds of Maine workers with bullhorns have ever come to the Statehouse for a rally, then marched in front of your home or anything.

Shoot, I forgot- that DID happen!

From June: Maine Workers Rally Marching By Blaine House

Rally held 25 June 2011 at the Statehouse in Augusta by Maine state workers and supporters. Afterwards, those assembled marched from the Capitol, past the Governor’s Mansion (the Blaine House), through Augusta with a final destination of the Governor Hill Mansion on State Street.

Well, jeez, THAT is awkward, huh? But, isolated incidences- I am SURE. It’s not like you are “anti-labor” or anything like that!!

What? No, it wasn’t? Oh dear…

Ah yes, I completely forgot about “Mural-gate”… now at Day 157! 


Day 78 (March 23): Maine AFL-CIO ACTION ALERT: Tell LePage, “Honor Maine’s Working Class History”Day 79 (March 24): Press Release: Maine Artists and Labor Historians Protest Mural Removal

Day 80 (March 25): Maine Women’s Lobby Asks: What Would Frances Perkins Say?

Day 80 (March 25): Playing Musical Chairs With the Maine Dept of Labor Mural?

Day 81 (March 26): Gov. LePage’s Weekly Radio Address: ‘Today, There is a New Mentality in Augusta’

Day 83 (March 28): BREAKING: Governor LePage Releases Statement About Mural Removal

It was reported on Day 84 (March 29) that despite being on the job for less than 3 months, Governor Paul LePage was taking a full week off for a vacation in Jamaica with wife Ann.

But even the Governor’s absence did not stop “Mural-Gate”, which evolved into a lawsuit and a temporary restraining order being filed against LePage.

And “Mural-Gate” rolled on:

 

Day 87 (April 1): Rep. Cynthia Dill Asks: Citizen’s Recall- What Now?Day 87 (April 1): BREAKING: Lawsuit Filed Against Gov LePage, Others Regarding Missing MDOL Mural

Day 88 (April 2): Governor LePage’s Weekly Address (2 Apr 2011)

Day 89 (April 3): Did Dirigo Blue Scoop Maine Media with GOP Senate Letter Post?

Day 90 (April 4): The 8 Senators’ Letter is Published- All Tone Issues, No Problems With LePage Agenda

Day 91 (April 5): Maine GOP/ Tea Party Antics: Attacking Art and Ripping Each Other Apart

Day 91 (April 5): Statement of ME Union of Visual Artists President Robert Shetterly

Day 91 (April 5): The Maine Labor Mural Projection Bombing On The Capital

Day 93 (April 7):Statement of MDOL Mural Artist Judy Taylor

Day 93 (April 7): Video: Portland Attorney Jonathan Beal Discusses MDOL Mural Lawsuit

Day 93 (April 7): Press Release: Congresswoman Pingree statement on Department of Labor mural

Day 93 (April 7): New MDOL Mural Video: “Paul LePage’s Dream”

Day 94 (April 8): REQUEST for Temporary Restraining Order Filed Against Maine Governor Paul LePage

Day 94 (April 8): “Maine Labor Mural Projection Bombing: PORTLAND

Day 97 (April 11): Video: “Welcome Back, Governor LePage!

Day 98 (April 12): HuffPo Scores Exclusive Interview with ME Labor Mural Projection Bombers

Oh my. Maybe your father-in-law was right:

 

Back in November, long before he decided to hide from the media behind his own weekly television show, Gov. Paul LePage sat down along with his wife, Ann, to chat with WCSH-TV’s Bill Green.
They talked about, among other things, how they met while they worked at what was then Scott Paper Co. in Winslow — Ann had a union job, Paul was a member of management.“Scott was battling its unions,” recalled Green in his set-up. “She was a union rep from a union family when she took the manager home to meet her father.”

Cut to Ann LePage:

“And my dad looked at me and said, ‘Ann, you’ve got to be kidding me! What are you doing with him? Those white collars don’t know how to work!‘ “

Hmm. Then there’s this- hey, maybe you are anti-labor after all, Governor!

 

In an interview at the National Governors Association, the Republican praised Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and couched his own proposal in the language of liberty loved by tea partiers.“He’s got a big challenge, and quite frankly, once they start reading our budget they’re going to leave Wisconsin and come to Maine becausewe’re going after right to work,” LePage told POLITICO.

LePage was unsure about the feasibility of passing right-to-work legislation.

“You know, it’s going to be a battle,” he said. “The people that elected me want jobs. They don’t care if they’re union jobs or non-union jobs. They just want a paycheck.”

“I think [Walker is] going to have a lot less hair next month than he has this month, but I admire him for recognizing the problem and at least attempting to get it under control,” LePage said. “We’re all looking at each other and discussing the options, and he’s taken an option that he believes is necessary for his state. And I certainly support him.”

“I believe if an individual wants to join organized labor and work under a union contract, they should have the legal right to do so,” he said. “At the same token, a person who does not want to work under organized labor and wants to work should have the ability to do so without the threat of having to join and having to pay dues to organized labor. It’s that simple. It’s all about freedom and liberty.”

Oh that does it; I give up.

Have a nice day off tomorrow, Paul. And whatever you do, don’t ever thank a union member for the days off you get.

 

36 Reasons to Thank a Union

1. Weekends

2. All Breaks at Work, including your Lunch Breaks

3. Paid Vacation

4. FMLA

5. Sick Leave

6. Social Security

7. Minimum Wage

8. Civil Rights Act/Title VII (Prohibits Employer Discrimination)

9. 8-Hour Work Day

10. Overtime Pay

11. Child Labor Laws

12. Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSHA)

13. 40 Hour Work Week

14. Worker’s Compensation (Worker’s Comp)

15. Unemployment Insurance

16. Pensions

17. Workplace Safety Standards and Regulations

18. Employer Health Care Insurance

19. Collective Bargaining Rights for Employees

20. Wrongful Termination Laws

21. Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967

22. Whistleblower Protection Laws

23. Employee Polygraph Protect Act (Prohibits Employer from using a lie detector test on an employee)

24. Veteran’s Employment and Training Services (VETS)

25. Compensation increases and Evaluations (Raises)

26. Sexual Harassment Laws

27. Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)

28. Holiday Pay

29. Employer Dental, Life, and Vision Insurance

30. Privacy Rights

31. Pregnancy and Parental Leave

32. Military Leave

33. The Right to Strike

34. Public Education for Children

35. Equal Pay Acts of 1963 & 2011 (Requires employers pay men and women equally for the same amount of work)

36. Laws Ending Sweatshops in the United States

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Weekly Maine.gov Labor Day Message by MDOL Commissioner Robert Winglass

Posted on September 1, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

Listen here.

Hello Mainers, this is Commissioner Bob Winglass of the Department of Labor. Today sitting in for Governor Paul LePage.

It has been my pleasure – my sincere pleasure – to serve Governor LePage during the past year and a half. Although I look forward to my upcoming retirement, I’d like to reflect momentarily upon the challenges facing our workforce and the steps we need to take to grow Maine’s economy and ensure that everyone has meaningful employment.

Now as Commissioner, I’ve traveled the state, meeting with loggers, lobstermen and women, shipbuilders, hospitality workers, teachers, machinists, farmers, and construction workers, just to name a few. These people keep our industries and our economy humming. I’m proud of the work that all of these employed Mainers do. They imagine, they create, they sell and they inspire all of us in public service world to work harder to make their work easier.

Now our economy has presented some hurdles. There’s no question about that. Unemployment remains too high. The Department of Labor has strived to lower our unemployment rate while nonetheless maintaining the integrity of our Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. A solvent and strong fund enabled this state to avoid the need to borrow federal funds to pay unemployment benefits. Keeping business costs down means more money can be invested in people and equipment.

Lowering the unemployment rate means putting people back to work. Growing our economy and letting the private sector create jobs is certainly the best way. This administration has overseen a steady increase in the number of private sector jobs. As our economy strengthens as a result of other reforms – such as tax, workers’ compensation, welfare and other programs—businesses will create even more jobs. But that’s still not enough.

Many businesses, like manufacturing, have jobs to fill but they cannot find enough skilled workers. We need to train more people for the jobs that are in demand right now. This month, the Department of Labor will submit a proposal to restructure Maine’s workforce investment system, cutting administrative overhead by an estimated eight hundred-thousand dollars. These savings that will be redirected to workforce development and training.

We’re training more women, for example, in non-traditional occupations – jobs that pay better with better benefits. We’re strengthening our services to veterans, helping them convert military experience into civilian employment. We’ve energized vocational training efforts for citizens with disabilities – certainly a worthy undertaking. Such programs enable Mainers to provide a better life for their families and instill the pride that comes with a paycheck.

The Department of Labor has a talented team of technical, dedicated people who effectively serve members of the workforce and employers. I have been honored to serve as their Commissioner, and I wish them all continued success as they continue their service to the men and women of the Maine workforce. These men and women provide the drive, the determination, and the skills that will keep our economy growing.

Have a wonderful Labor Day. You’ve earned it!

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ME Dept of Labor Commissioner Robert Winglass Resigns

Posted on August 8, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

From a press release:

Governor Paul LePage accepted the resignation of Commissioner of Labor Robert J. Winglass today, noting his deep regard for the commissioner’s years of service to Maine and our nation. Winglass has served as commissioner since June 2011 and will step down upon the confirmation of his replacement by the State Legislature.

“I want to thank the General for his service to the people of Maine,” said Governor LePage. “The Department of Labor has made significant progress during the past year under his leadership, becoming more efficient and responsive to the needs of our people and businesses. I wish him well in his retirement.”

Upon his nomination, Commissioner Winglass made a commitment to the governor to serve between one and two years in the post. Having met that commitment and having recently sold his home in Bath and relocated with his wife to their retirement home in Surry, Maine, Commissioner Winglass determined that now would be an appropriate time to step down.

“I have been most fortunate to serve as Governor LePage’s Labor Commissioner,”
Commissioner Winglass said at his announcement. He added, “His strong, no nonsense and determined leadership has charted a course that will restore fiscal balance, create substantial gains in the efficiencies of the public education system and create a workforce second to none.”

The Bangor Daily News is reporting that the governor plans on filling the vacancy by nominating Jeanne Paquette, who has been serving MDOL as deputy commissioner since 2011.

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Maine’s Majority: LePage Must Substantiate Allegations Labor Mural “Robbed” Unemployment Funds”

Posted on September 29, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

61


Just released
; here are a few key pieces:

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.

Indeed, a 2003 Maine law, LD1552 “An Act To Allocate a Portion of the Reed Act Distribution of 2002 To Use for the Administration of the Unemployment Insurance and Employment Services Programs”, set aside $9,760,000 of a $32,486,816 Reed Act grant to pay for administrative expenses, including expenses associated with offices, technology and accessibility.

The mural funding in question appears to have come from this administrative allocation, not from the remaining monies which were reserved to provide unemployment benefits.

 
PPH Opinion
adds the following calling out:

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

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