Feed aggregator

LePage administration continues information freeze about new psychiatric unit

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

Good morning from Augusta, where the Department of Health and Human Services is moving toward building a new forensic unit near the state-run Riverview Psychiatric Center without sharing its plans with lawmakers or the city of Augusta.

The issue has been simmering for months but came up again Thursday when Democratic members of the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee — along with Republican Sen. Roger Katz of Augusta — convened to discuss this issue and others. The rest of the committee’s Republicans refused to participate in the meeting because, according to Republican Sen. James Hamper of Oxford, it would turn political in nature too close to the November elections. Democrats noted that the budget committee has met in September in the past.

DHHS and the LePage administration have indicated that they intend to build a 21-bed high-security forensic facility near the state-run hospital for potentially violent patients, many of them remanded to DHHS custody by the court system because they were found not criminally responsible for crimes because of a mental illness. State mental health administrators have struggled to find an appropriate way to care for such individuals, whose treatment often differs from that of other people receiving care at Riverview. Building the facility, which would then be run by a private entity, according to lawmakers, is part of the administration’s plan to regain certification from the federal government and protect $20 million in annual funding that comes with it.

Jenna Mehnert, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Maine, along with lawmakers, said they have been asking DHHS for details about the plan but so far those requests have been ignored.

“That lack of clarity is what makes us feel like [the state is] building a mini jail on the grounds of Riverview,” said Mehnert to lawmakers on Thursday.

Katz said he is withholding judgment on the administration’s plan, for now.

“This may be the best possible way to deal with this problem but when we’re talking about a facility, that as I understand will have 14-foot walls with barbed wire, the decision to turn that over to a private entity without legislative approval [is of concern],” he said. “I’d like to think we’re all on the same team here in regards to treating mentally ill people. … We all want exactly the same result.”

Democratic Rep. Peggy Rotundo of Lewiston, who co-chairs the committee with Hamper, questioned how the estimated $3 million to $5 million cost would be funded without an appropriation approved by the Legislature. She said a list of questions to the LePage administration has so far not been answered.

DHHS brought the project to the Augusta Planning Board earlier this month but it was tabled because the board also wanted more information, including about the financing.

DHHS spokeswoman Samantha Edwards ignored questions from the BDN on Thursday but she told Mal Leary of Maine Public that the department believes it has the authority to proceed with the project with existing funds — and without legislative approval. — Christopher Cousins

Poliquin chastises bank CEO, draws fire from Cain

As Democrats continued to lob attacks about his past work on Wall Street, Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin of Maine’s 2nd District on Thursday added his voice to a chorus of criticism against Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf over the bank’s creation of unauthorized customer accounts to meet sales quotas. Stumpf is the same guy who was torn apart recently by Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

“The probability will be high that your organization and the actions of you — this systemic pattern of misbehavior and gross management, and it looks like fraud — is going to find its way to the community banks and the folks that rely on them in rural Maine,” Poliquin said Thursday during hearings on the bank’s misdeeds. “You ought to be ashamed of yourself.”

Poliquin’s comments drew attention from some national media, but Democrat Emily Cain, his opponent in the nationally targeted 2nd District race, dismissed them as too-little, too-late political posturing. Her campaign issued a statement noting that Wells Fargo has contributed to Poliquin’s campaign.

“Poliquin is on the side of the banks until there’s a camera on him,” said Cain in a news release.

With recent polls showing the incumbent ahead, Cain’s backers have intensified efforts to paint Poliquin, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, as being in the pocket of the financial sector. The latest variation on that theme cites his vote for a bill that would have capped funding for Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which regulates banks like Wells Fargo.

In a district struggling to cope with paper mill closures and a bleak economic outlook, both campaigns are trying to stake claims to champions of working people while portraying their opponent as extreme. — Christopher Cousins

Quick hits
  • Look, up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s the president: President Barack Obama and his entourage departed early this morning from Israel where they were mourning the death of former Israeli President Shimon Peres. According to CBS News correspondent Mark Knoller, Air Force One was scheduled to stop in Bangor for refueling with Obama, former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State John Kerry on board.  
  • Abortion rallies: Reproductive rights advocates are scheduled to hold rallies today in Portland and Bangor in opposition to the 1976 Hyde Amendment, which withholds insurance coverage for abortions for women who qualify for Medicaid and other federally provided plans. The 11:30 a.m. rallies in Bangor’s West Market Square and Portland’s Monument Square are organized by the ACLU of Maine, the Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center, Maine Family Planning and Planned Parenthood of New England.
  • Job training grant: U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King have announced that the Maine Department of Labor will receive $9 million from the U.S. Department of Education to expand vocational and educational opportunities for students with disabilities. The money will be used by the Department of Labor and Jobs for Maine Graduates to serve at least 200 students a year with the goal of placing at least 90 percent of them in post-secondary training or employment within a year of finishing high school.
  • New CD2 ad: As Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump takes heat for his “fat shaming” of women, the National Republican Campaign Committee is attacking 2nd Congressional District Democratic candidate Emily Cain in a new ad. The ad is based on a 2007 vote she took in the Maine Legislature in favor of a bill designed to track obesity in Maine schools by, among other things, weighing students. Cain’s campaign previously dismissed similar claims as a distortion of her position.
  • Dustbin dry: Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree announced Thursday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared five counties in southern Maine as a disaster area due to the ongoing drought. Cumberland, Androscoggin, Oxford, Sagadahoc and York counties are all part of the disaster area, which makes farmers in those areas eligible for federal aid, including emergency loans, from the Farm Service Agency. In related news: A rainy forecast for the weekend has been amended to “a few drops” on Sunday.
Reading list IT’S NOT FAIR: dwarfed by an 11-year-old

I took my sixth-grade son to a basketball skills clinic yesterday that was open to grades four through eight. The coach came over as he was lacing up his shoes (which are within a half size of mine) to introduce herself.

“What grade is he in?” she asked.

“He’s in the sixth grade,” I said.

“Oh good, so he can participate,” she said.

I’m of average height — about 5’ 9’’ — and my boy, who has grown about 3 inches since spring, is already topping 5’ 6’’. It’s unfair that my kid will outgrow me in middle school. How did this happen?

However, the upside dawned on me as he was lacing his $90 Nikes: If he keeps growing I’ll soon have lots of awesome shoes.

Here’s his soundtrack. – Christopher Cousins

 

Most Mainers may support ranked-choice voting. But do they understand it?

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

Good morning from Augusta, where some new polling on ranked-choice voting — apparently one of this year’s more under-the-radar election issues in Maine — caught our eye this morning.

The Portland Press Herald continued releasing results from its mid-September poll of more than 500 Maine voters, finding that 48 percent of respondents supported Question 5 on the November ballot. Another 29 percent of voters said they would vote against the change with 23 percent saying they were undecided.

In all, that’s pretty good news for proponents of the proposal to allow voters to rank choices in gubernatorial, congressional and legislative races with more than three candidate.

But it’s clear that voters aren’t well-versed in the idea, and that issue is confirmed by an internal poll given to the Bangor Daily News by the Committee on Ranked Voting, which is running the campaign on Tuesday. (The BDN typically doesn’t publish or publicize internal polls, but the poll of 603 Mainers was done in the last two weeks and the provided 18 pages of data on questions that haven’t been asked in public polling so far.)

That poll said while 60 percent of respondents favored the reform, only 49 percent would vote for it if the election was held that day. However, when they learned more about it, that number rose to 55 percent. Only 46 percent of respondents said that they were familiar with the proposal, while 43 percent said they weren’t.

The campaign has been trying to educate the public with “beer elections” at Maine breweries during the month of September and more will surely learn about it over the course of October. But it seems that education is still the campaign’s biggest hurdle.— Michael Shepherd

Quick hits
  • U.S. Sen. Angus King is concerned about “unintended consequences” of the first overriden veto from President Barack Obama. On Wednesday, Congress overwhelmingly rejected Obama’s veto of a bill allowing Sept. 11 attack victims to sue Saudi Arabia. Maine’s delegation supported the override. But King, a Maine independent, was one of 28 senators to send a letter to the bill’s Senate sponsors saying there could be “unintended consequences” thar lawmakers may have to mitigate, including other countries weakening U.S. immunity protections.
  • The Professional Logging Contractors of Maine asked Democratic 2nd Congressional District candidate Emily Cain to take down an ad in which loggers criticize U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin. The group doesn’t endorse candidates, but worked with Poliquin to fight the new national monument in Maine’s North Woods. The PLC said it is “implied” that the loggers in the ad “represent the view of loggers across the state,” but the ad doesn’t claim a wider endorsement. One of the loggers is Cam Jackson, the son of former Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson, who lost a 2nd District primary to Cain in 2014. — Michael Shepherd
Reading list The unsolicited pitch of the day

Reporters get a lot of emails. Some of them are useful. Most aren’t. Often, they’re story pitches from out-of-state public relations people who we have little use for. But sometimes, even they deliver.

William Yates, an Illinois hair loss doctor, “announced research results” on the presidency that just happen to pertain to what he does for work, calling good hair “a requirement” for the White House.

He said Donald Trump won the Republican primary over candidates with thinning hair such as Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee because of “this subconscious phenomenon” among the electorate. On the Democratic side, “Hillary Clinton clearly dominated over Bernie Sanders windblown combover.”

In the general election, Yates says Trump and Clinton are evenly matched because both have “hairlines that give them framing of the face.”

So, his prediction now hinges on the vice presidential nominees, with Republican Mike Pence’s hairline besting that of Democrat Tim Kaine. Trump, Yates says, is our next president. — Michael Shepherd

Trump can’t let this happen again

Matt Gagnon - Bangor Daily News -

Even I, as much as I dislike him, wanted to see Donald Trump debate Hillary Clinton.

I expected he would be brutal and, if nothing else, hold her to account for the various ways she has disqualified herself from the presidency. If nothing else, that would make Trump winning the primary worth it.

But it didn’t happen. He lost the debate. Worse, he didn’t land any real body blows on her.

The poor performance doesn’t mean Trump’s going to lose the election. President Obama lost the first debate in 2012 and ended up smoking Mitt Romney in the election. Ronald Reagan was so incoherent that he appeared senile in his first debate in 1984, and he ended up winning 49 states.

It also doesn’t mean Clinton was even remotely good on stage Monday night. She wasn’t. I’m not sure I have ever witnessed a politician look more uncomfortably phony. There was the constant, creepy fake smile. There were the planned one-liners, clumsily delivered, that fell flat. There was the slow, methodical delivery. The lying.

Mike Segar | Reuters

It doesn’t mean Clinton was right on issues and Trump was wrong. There were plenty of things about which he was right and she was wrong. Then again, there were plenty of things they both said and both were wrong about, like the idiotic, constitutionally offensive idea of the no-fly list being used to extra-judicially remove a person’s Second Amendment rights.

And it doesn’t mean that Trump didn’t look quite good at times. He actually won the first 20 minutes of the debate, by my estimation. I am a free trader and will never move off that position, but I can still admit that he dominated her on trade, the economy, and parts of the foreign policy conversation.

What it does mean is that Trump did not take advantage of perhaps his biggest opportunity to date.

Prior to this debate, Trump had been steadily gaining ground in the polls, particularly in important battleground states like Pennsylvania, and yes, even Maine. A knockout performance that was both presidential, informed and crisply delivered would have obliterated Clinton, and very well could have moved Trump into the lead.

It could have, in my opinion, put him in a position to win all the rust belt states, some of the Rocky Mountain states, and perhaps give him a chance to get more than 300 electoral votes.

He didn’t do that, and it was all his own doing.

Time after time, Monday night, he was presented with golden opportunities to hammer away at Clinton. Yet he missed nearly every opportunity, sometimes while he did damage to himself.

One of the most glaring examples was when moderator Lester Holt posed a question to Clinton about her private email server after she had hammered him on his failure to release his tax returns. At that moment, Trump likely could have put an exchange that didn’t favor him behind him and attacked Clinton on one of her core weaknesses — trustworthiness.

He should have seen the chance, too, because Clinton looked like an uncomfortable, babbling fool while talking about her use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state. “I shouldn’t have done it, and I’m sorry,” she awkwardly said.

Trump started strong. He said that wasn’t good enough. She violated one of the most sacred duties of an official in her position, that of protecting this nation’s national security secrets. And she did it because she is a paranoid, controlling political hack more concerned with obfuscating the public’s ability to review what she has done than with doing her duty.

But after a quick moment questioning why so many of her employees were taking the Fifth when asked about the server, he stopped. He didn’t connect it to her shocking dereliction of duty. He didn’t connect it to the pay-to-play activities, selling our nation’s foreign policy to Clinton Foundation donors. He didn’t note the irony that she is lecturing the rest of us about the need for cybersecurity after violating it and lying about it so much.

He voluntarily went back to his taxes, and spent minute after agonizing minute defending himself. In so doing, he gave the ball back to Clinton. He let her spend the last half of the debate talking about him, rather than defending herself.

That happened time after time. If Trump wants to win the second and third debates and the presidency, he can’t let it happen again.

Poll: Mainers want legal pot, higher minimum wage

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

Good morning from Augusta, where once again many eyes are on new poll results from the Portland Press Herald and University of New Hampshire Survey Center.

According the poll of 500 likely voters in Maine, incremental annual increases in the state’s minimum wage look likely. Sixty percent of respondents favor Question 4, compared with just 28 percent who oppose it. The referendum is popular among Democrats and independents and even garnered support from 50 percent of Republicans, according to the poll.

Question 4, which results from a signature-gathering effort led by progressive Maine groups, seeks to gradually increase the state’s minimum wage of $7.50 an hour to $12 by 2020, followed by automatic increases in future years that would be tied to the national cost of living. Tipped workers, who currently have a sub-minimum wage of $3.75, would see their base pay increase to $5 an hour in 2017 and then to $12 by 2024.

Despite the support shown for raising the minimum wage in the poll — a full 74 percent think it’s too low — 53 percent of respondents said it will hurt small businesses. That cuts to the core of the arguments against the referendum, which is opposed by business groups such as the Maine State Chamber of Commerce and a number of lawmakers, including Gov. Paul LePage.

Opponents of the proposal that became Question 4 offered alternatives during the legislative session earlier this year, but Democratic lawmakers stymied those efforts.

Earlier this week, the Portland Press Herald released poll results in the presidential and congressional races, as well as the other referenda. It found 60 percent support for Question 2, which would place a 3 percent tax on personal income over $200,000 to fund public school education. On Question 1, which would legalize recreational marijuana, 53 percent of Mainers are in support.  The newspaper will continue rolling out is poll results on Thursday. -- Christopher Cousins

Budget committee leaders spar over September meeting

Democratic Rep. Peggy Rotundo of Lewiston and Republican Sen. Jim Hamper of Oxford, who co-chair the Legislature’s powerful Appropriations Committee, disagree about whether the committee should convene this month. Rotundo has been arguing in emails between committee members that the committee has important issues to discuss, from changes in the way the Department of Health and Human Services is allocating resources to progress on plans to improve the state-run Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta.

Rotundo said in a Sept. 19 email to the committee, which was provided by House Democratic staff, that the committee should meet even though Gov. Paul LePage has indicated, as he has in the past, that he will not authorize executive branch employees to meet with the committee until January when the new Legislature is sworn in.

“This would be the most egregious abdication of our responsibilities as legislators,” wrote Rotundo. “I know we all sincerely want to work with the governor, but if he chooses not to work with us, we must still try our hardest to fulfill our duty to the people of Maine.”

Hamper said a meeting would be “an exercise in asking questions to an empty chair” that would be a waste of taxpayer money and that with the election so close, the gathering would veer into the political.

“I will not agree to meet before the November election,” wrote Hamper.

Democrats are pushing forward regardless. Appropriations Committee analyst Maureen Dawson announced Tuesday that Democrats on the committee will convene at 1 p.m. Thursday at the State House. – Christopher Cousins

Quick hit

Senior issues listening tour: Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves of North Berwick will continue his listening tour about issues facing senior citizens in Maine on Thursday. The event begins at 9 a.m. at Tewksbury Hall, 13 Island Ave., Skowhegan, which is behind the Skowhegan Federated Church.

Reading list Squirrels continue to badger political reporter

In April of 2015, I shared the story of my harrowing ordeal with a squirrel that showed up in my bathroom one morning. It was a tale of agility, mental acuity, bravery, stamina and triumph. Then there were my son and I, hapless and helpless in the face of a raging rodent.

Fast forward to Tuesday and I’m sitting in my living room, writing a story. Calm as family, a squirrel sauntered in and stopped 3 feet from my golden retriever, who slept through the whole thing.

When the squirrel and I locked eyes, my first thought was of you, loyal Daily Brief reader.

For last year’s squirrel, I contemplated a hammer and my son wanted to cook the rodent to death in the radiator (that’s still my proudest Dad Moment). Perhaps a little wiser this time, I thought of my cat, Chester, who I knew was sleeping in a chair in the next room.

The squirrel finally took off and I heard Chester scramble after it. .

“This is going to be so easy,” I said to myself. “I won’t have to do anything at all.”

I messaged my editor, who immediately said he saw “another classic story in the making.” He has excellent news instincts.

“My cat caught it!” I wrote, describing the uproar I was hearing in the other room. “But now it got away again! The squirrel was screeching and everything. The battle has moved to the laundry room. Should I be recording this?”

“You should probably be helping the cat,” he suggested. He has excellent rodent-catching instincts.

I tried scaring the squirrel out with a broom, but it didn’t work. I shined the flashlight behind the washing machine, but that just made Chester chase the beam. Out of ideas and running short on courage, I opened the door to the outside and left it that way for most of the day. The squirrel left. That’s what I told my wife, anyway.

Here’s her soundtrack. — Christopher Cousins

National Republican group commits $600K for late attack ads in Maine’s 2nd District

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

The Congressional Leadership Fund announced Tuesday that it will spend $600,000 between now and Election Day in a bid to foil Democrat Emily Cain’s bid to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin in Maine’s 2nd District.

The fund, which is a super-PAC backed by House Republican leadership, said the money will be used for a statewide television and digital advertising campaign in the final two weeks before Election Day. The Congressional Leadership Fund has already been campaigning against Cain with web-based attempts to link her and her policy beliefs to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

“Emily Cain will have no place to hide from her support of the failed Obama-Clinton agenda that has made our country less safe and less prosperous,” said Ruth Guerra, a spokeswoman for the Congressional Leadership Fund.

Cain said in a written statement that the $600,000 will add to a flood of special interest funding Poliquin has already received.

“Poliquin has consistently sold out working families to his Wall Street donors and this is his reward,” said Cain. “This wave of secret special interest ads won’t be pretty. My advice to everyone as our airwaves become flooded with nonsense is, ‘trust your gut.’ If something sounds too crazy to be true, it’s probably a lie.”

Independent expenditures from the fund will include buys across the Portland, Bangor and Presque Isle media markets, according to a news release. The Congressional Leadership Fund’s spending in this election cycle has surpassed $21 million across 16 congressional races. That total surpasses the $20 million spent by the fund and the American Action Network, its sister organization, in 2014.

The 2nd District race is nationally targeted, with Poliquin and Cain already raising a combined $4.3 million as of the end of June and outside groups already spending more than $2 million for and against the candidates, with more pledged.

Recent polls have shown Poliquin leading Cain by up to 10 percentage points, though there are still enough undecided voters in the district to sway the election either way.

 

‘Dark money’ from California backs Maine Democrat challenging Senate president

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

A California-based political organization has pledged $50,000 to the Democrat in one of Maine’s most-watched Senate contests, again highlighting that money from out-of-state is pouring into legislative races.

The $50,000 pledge, which was revealed in registration paperwork filed last month for a political action committee called Progressive Maine, is intended to help Democrat Jonathan Fulford unseat incumbent Republican Sen. Mike Thibodeau for the Waldo County Senate seat. Thibodeau, who is the president of the Senate, eked out a victory over Fulford by just 135 votes in 2014.

Joshua Grossman, president of a Super-PAC called Progressive Kick Independent Expenditures of Oakland, California, said Monday that allocating the $50,000 to Progressive Maine on Fulford’s behalf was part of a community organizing “pilot project.” He said the money will be used to hire local staff to coordinate volunteers in activities such as door-to-door canvassing. That includes backing Fulford and all five ballot question on the Nov. 8 ballot. He said the money is not intended for political advertisements.

“Fulford is someone we want to help and we’re not pretending otherwise,” said Grossman. “This is an attempt on our part to foster a team organization project which is neighbors educating neighbors.”

Progressive Kick has supported numerous congressional and state-level candidates, including in Maine. In 2014, the organization pledged nearly $1.3 million for Democrats challenging what it saw as vulnerable Republican governors, including spending more than $100,000 in opposition to Gov. Paul LePage’s re-election campaign. The group has reportedly been interested in Maine politics dating back to 2011 when it sought ways to unseat former Republican U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe.

The PAC’s top donor in 2014 was National Nurses United for Patient Protection, which contributed more than $1.5 million, along with dozens of individual donors from across the country. Between January 2015 and June 2016, according to Federal Election Commission data, donors have included nursing and teacher labor unions in California and a handful of individuals who combined for about $433,000.

The Maine Progressives PAC’s treasurer, Neil Reiff, is a former deputy counsel for the Democratic National Committee is now an election law specialist based in Washington, D.C.

Thibodeau criticized the organization’s anticipated independent expenditures in the race, which because they are being administered by a Maine-based PAC, could come without the California organization being required to reveal its donors.

“There’s little question that dark money has a favorite candidate in this race and it’s not Mike Thibodeau,” said Thibodeau. “There is no question that their intent is to try to influence the outcome in Waldo County while shielding their undisclosed donors.”

Maine law regarding disclosure of donors to organizations making independent expenditures was changed in 2015 by citizen initiative. Under the new law, organizations that buy at least $250 of political advertisements in favor of a certain candidate or cause must disclose their top three donors within the advertisement itself. In this case, the California organization appears to be exempt from identifying its donors for two reasons: It does not intend to purchase advertising and the money is being administered through a Maine-based PAC.

Jonathan Wayne, executive director of the Maine Ethics Commission, which oversees campaign finance in Maine, said he couldn’t speak specifically about this group without inspecting its filings but he explained the law in general.

“The idea of the top three funders disclosure is that when a citizen receives the actual communication, such as the mailer or broadcast advertisement, included with that is a statement about those those top three funders are,” said Wayne. “It doesn’t cover face-to-face communications.”

Fulford, a publicly financed candidate, said Monday that he’d recently heard about the $50,000 pledged on his behalf from a reporter but didn’t know much about it. Though he is barred by law from communicating with Progressive Kick, Fulford said he does not condone the organization’s spending in his race.

“This election will see record amounts of money spent by wealthy individuals and corporations, some visible and some invisible, because the Supreme Court ruling Citizens United,” said Fulford. “In Maine, we will see independent expenditures by groups from out of state. I do not encourage or endorse this spending in my race. I will introduce legislation that will challenge this ruling.”

Progressive Maine — the PAC formed by Progressive Kick — is looking to hire full-time organizers in Belfast and Winterport, according to a Sept. 3 Facebook post by the Waldo County Progressives.

Grossman, who is the founder of an eco-friendly paper products company called New Leaf Paper, said he chose the state because of its voting history and low population in each Senate district. According to Grossman, more than 100,000 Mainers turned out to vote in 2012 who didn’t return in 2014, and they were disproportionately young, progressive Democrats. His goal is to bring them back to the polls.

“[The Thibodeau-Fulford election] was a close contest [in 2014] and we hope we can make a difference,” he said. “We could have chosen somewhere else in Maine. We had to do it somewhere so this is where that somewhere wound up being.”

Thibodeau and Fulford are scheduled to appear in a candidate forum at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the University of Maine’s Hutchinson Center in Belfast.

 

It looks like Clinton won the debate. Will she gain an edge?

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

Good morning from Augusta, where I had a late night watching last night’s historic presidential debate at the Bangor Daily News’ watch party in Portland.

Nobody in that liberal bastion seemed to think Republican Donald Trump bested Democrat Hillary Clinton. Our crews fanned out across the state captured more diverse reactions. “Who won the debate?” can be a rote question, simply because it demands an answer that reflects your politics.

But according to polling, Clinton won, and it wasn’t particularly close. In CNN’s post-debate poll, 62 percent said she had the better night to Trump’s 27 percent. That was the third-widest margin in either CNN or Gallup polling going back to 1984, according to FiveThirtyEight.

To me, this was because Trump dominated the conversation —  he got 79 percent of debate mentions on Facebook and 62 percent on Twitter but failed to land many punches on Clinton. He was often attacking her or responding to her attacks, but she still mostly avoided discussion on her vulnerable subjects, such as her email scandal and the Clinton Foundation.

On the other hand, Trump made some gaffes that could come to attack ads soon, saying he was “smart” for not paying income taxes, for example.

Will it matter? President Barack Obama lost the first debate to Republican Mitt Romnet in 2012, but he went on to perform better and win the election. FiveThirtyEight has observed 4-point polling bumps after the first debate, so it’s likely that Clinton could get one. But like Romney, it may not last.

However, a bump now would be important, since the race is virtually neck-and-neck, with Clinton slightly ahead according to RealClearPolitics. We’ll see how it shakes out. – Michael Shepherd

Some quibbles with 2nd District ads on Poliquin taxes, Cain bill

Two new ads from Democratic 2nd Congressional District candidate Emily Cain and a national Republican group boosting U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin take a couple of arguments dating back to their 2014 campaign just a bit too far.

Cain released an ad last week hitting Poliquin on the most-used attack against him during his political career: His use of a program that allowed him to pay just $21 in property taxes in one year on 10 acres of his 12-acre, $3 million coastal estate in Georgetown. I’ve been over and over the facts of this, and here’s an explainer.

The Maine Tree Growth Program is meant to encourage commercial forestry, but Poliquin was largely prohibited by deed from harvesting trees. Although he harvested some, a state report in 2009 cited his property as an example of “problematic enrollment.”

But Cain’s ad goes slightly over the line when a logger says Poliquin paid just $21 in taxes on “his oceanfront estate.” That was just for the 10-acre parcel. He paid a full amount of taxes on the other two acres. It’s a small quibble, but an important point.

The other ad, a radio spot from the National Republican Congressional Committee, spins a low-key bill proposed in the Maine Legislature by Cain in 2007 that was killed by a legislative committee. It would have required schools to collect height and weight data of students in kindergarten and odd-numbered grades up to 9.

But the NRCC’s ad calls the idea “a massive violation of our kids’ privacy” even though the screening would have been confidential — like other health data — and reported by the state on an aggregate basis. The bill also would have allowed parents to get kids out of it by citing a personal objection.

Was it necessary? The Legislature didn’t think so. But the idea was more benign than it seems here. — Michael Shepherd

Reading list Best of Maine’s Craigslist
  • A pawsome deal: Someone in Sanford is selling a pretty large dog wardrobe, including hoodies, a Snuggie and a rhinestone collar. Here’s a helpful guide to when your dog may need to wear clothes and here’s your soundtrack.
  • ‘Lol, trust me’ with a sensitive topic: You can get “vitamins for sexual health” delivered by someone in South Portland who advises you to “just be ready because you’ll take it then other people will start expecting great thing, lol, trust me.” — Michael Shepherd

LePage’s drug arrest photo binder undermines 90% black, Hispanic claim

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

Gov. Paul LePage. (BDN file photo)

The majority of photographs filling a binder that Gov. Paul LePage cited as supporting a claim that upward of 90 percent of suspects arrested in Maine on opiate-trafficking charges are out-of-state “black and Hispanic people” are instead of white drug defendants.

The Republican governor’s office released the 148-page file on Monday after public access requests from the Bangor Daily News and other media outlets. The American Civil Liberties Union called it “an incomplete collection of newspaper clippings and emails” used “to make false, inaccurate accusations about people of color.”

But the binder alone doesn’t prove LePage’s point: Of 93 pictures of people arrested for drug crimes in it, 57 are apparently white, according to a BDN count.

The binder also showed that LePage was interested in tracking down photos of many of the defendants. One handwritten note asked staff to “file pictures” from a Brewer meth lab arrest in May “in my binder for historical value.” Before the words “historical value,” the word “poster” was written and crossed out.

LePage has stoked outrage twice this year with racial comments on drugs, first in January, when he said that out-of-state drug dealers come to Maine and impregnate “young, white” women before leaving.

Then, in August, he said the binder showed that more than 90 percent of drug traffickers arrested in Maine “are black and Hispanic people from Waterbury, Connecticut, the Bronx and Brooklyn.” After state Rep. Drew Gattine, D-Westbrook, criticized those comments, the governor left him a profane voicemail.

Maine’s drug crisis is peaking, with overdoses killing 189 people in the first half of 2016, putting the state on pace for a record high, fueled by heroin and fentanyl, an opioid often mixed with or presented as heroin.

And on Monday, the Maine Department of Public Safety said while overall crime went down in 2015, more than 5,900 people were arrested for drug violations, a total that was slightly up from the previous year.

An “increase in out of state drug dealers” was cited by the department, but it said in August that it doesn’t track the races of people charged with drug crimes.

Gangs have been cited as a major piece of Maine’s heroin crisis, but data provided in August by the Maine Department of Corrections said 70 percent state prison inmates convicted of any type of drug trafficking self-report as white.

In an email, LePage spokeswoman Adrienne Bennett said “this is about out-of-state accused drug traffickers,” saying the administration “will move forward as it has in the past pertaining to policy.”

ACLU of Maine Executive Director Alison Beyea said in a statement that “whether or not” LePage’s claims “were deliberately misleading, they were dangerous and racist.”

“The governor has multiple agencies at his disposal that collect arrest data in Maine,” she said. “It is outrageous that he would rely on an incomplete collection of newspaper clippings and emails to make false, inaccurate accusations about people of color.”

New poll shows solid leads for Poliquin, Trump in Maine’s 2nd District

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

Good morning from Augusta, where there are new Maine-centric poll numbers to peruse thanks to the University of New Hampshire Survey Center and the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram.

In the presidential race, which is on everyone’s mind today with the first 90-minute debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump scheduled for tonight, the poll confirmed a trend that has been emerging in recent weeks: Trump is crushing Clinton in the 2nd Congressional District, 48 percent to 34 percent.

Support is reversed in the 1st Congressional District, where 50 percent of respondents favor Clinton, compared with 28 percent for Trump and 14 percent supporting other candidates. Clinton leads Trump statewide by 4 points. Libertarian Gary Johnson attracted 12 percent support and the Green Party’s Jill Stein amassed 3 percent support.

As has been reported over and over again, that means this could be first-ever presidential election in which Maine splits its electoral votes. According to these results, Clinton would take two electoral votes for winning Maine overall and one vote for winning the 1st District. Trump would secure the 2nd District’s one electoral vote.

However, Trump’s emerging dominance in the 2nd District, coupled with the relatively strong showing by Johnson, appears to have narrowed the statewide race. If Trump does surge ahead of Clinton to win a majority of votes statewide, he would earn three Electoral College votes — and fulfill a prediction made earlier this month by his most vocal advocate in the state, Gov. Paul LePage.

In a national Bloomberg Politics poll on the presidential race that was released today, Trump and Clinton are neck-and-neck, each with 46 percent support among likely voters, according to The Hill. With third-party candidates included, Trump bests Clinton by 2 percentage points. The same poll found Clinton with a 6-point lead in August.

Here’s one more poll on the presidential race: Morning Consult has the national race at 38 percent Clinton, 39 percent Trump, 9 percent Johnson and 4 percent Stein.

In Maine’s most-closely-watched race, the rematch in the 2nd Congressional District between incumbent Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin and Democrat Emily Cain, there appears to be a significant advantage for Poliquin, whom the poll found ahead by 10 percentage points, 45 percent to 35 percent, with 15 percent undecided. The poll reflects responses by 231 likely voters in the 2nd District and has a margin or error of about 6 percent.

Here are some other results from the poll:

  • Incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree has towering support over Republican challenger Mark Holbrook in the 1st Congressional District. Pingree, currently in her fourth term, had 64 percent support among likely voters, compared with just 22 percent favoring Holbrook.
  • The legalization of recreational marijuana, which appears as Question 1 on the November ballot, found 53 percent support, driven by younger voters, particularly in southern and coastal areas, according to the Portland Press Herald. Only 38 percent said they were opposed to legalization, with 10 percent undecided.

Maine Today Media will continue to roll out results from its poll throughout the week. — Christopher Cousins

Quick hits
  • Maine is not good for teachers: A new study by the personal finance website WalletHub has found that Maine ranks very poorly as a place to work if you’re a public school teachers. WalletHub’s 2016 Best & Worst States for Teachers found Maine ranks 48th for average starting teacher salary, 49th for median annual teacher salary, 35th for teachers’ growth potential, 22nd in school safety and 46th for public school spending per student. I think our teachers need a bit of love right now, so here’s their soundtrack. (Turn it UP!)
  • An animated guy: Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap stars in two new animated videos that describe the process of registering to vote and of casting a ballot. Titled “Maine Voter Guide Part 1: Registering to Vote” and “Maine Voter Guide Part 2: Casting Your Ballot, are based on the State of Maine Voter Guide and posted on the state’s website.
  • Clean Power litigation: The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., will hear oral arguments Tuesday in a lawsuit brought against the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. A consortium of 27 states is challenging President Barack Obama’s plan for lower carbon emissions, which they argue will create an undue financial burden. Twenty-five states, including Maine, have filed motions in defense of the plan against legal challenges. Attorney General Janet Mills, who filed on Maine’s behalf, will gather with proponents of the plan at noon on Tuesday at Lincoln Park in Portland for a news conference to lay out her arguments in support of the call for stricter emissions controls. Proponents of the stricter controls have long argued that Maine — as the northeastern “tailpipe” of the United States –.suffers unfair environmental damage caused by pollutants produces in Rust Belt states that are borne by winds from the west, damaging our environment.
  • Binder reminder: Gov. Paul LePage’s office announced that it will make public the contents of a three-ring binder in which the governor stores clippings and other information about drug trafficking arrests in Maine. The information will be released in response to multiple Freedom of Access Act requests, including ones filed by the Bangor Daily News and Maine chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. The binder was one of the major props in last month’s controversy involving statements LePage made about black and Hispanic people from other states coming to Maine to sell heroin and other deadly drugs. It drew national attention after LePage left a profanity-laden voice mail for Democratic Rep. Drew Gattine of Westbrook. In case anyone has forgotten that episode — which drew global attention and spurred another round of calls to remove LePage from office — the binder release today should refresh our memories.
  • Debate watch: Watch The Bangor Daily News this evening for comprehensive coverage of the presidential debate, which begins at 9 p.m. If you’d like to join the Bangor Daily News personally, our Portland and (part of our) political staff are hosting a debate watch party beginning at 8 p.m. at our bureau at Think Tank Coworking at 533 Congress St There will be free food and beverages of your choice, though you’ll have to provide the latter for yourself. It should be a good time, but let us know if you’re coming, will ya? — Christopher Cousins
Reading list Stephen King’s zinger about Trump

Part of me thinks you don’t care what Stephen King thinks about politics but the BDN’s readership numbers say otherwise: Whenever the BDN posts an item about Maine’s most famous resident author — who is also one of Maine’s most outspoken Democrats — readers flock to it like vampires to a blood bank.

The latest story comes from The Washington Post. In it, King, 69, predictably unloads on Trump. The kicker is sort of clever. When the author asks King if he’ll write a book about a Trump presidency he said he already did: “The Dead Zone.” That’s King’s 1979 book about a man with a really, really, really, really, really bad head injury.

Weird. I’ve read a majority of King’s books and I thought either “Firestarter” or “It” was more appropriate, depending on which candidate you like. — Christopher Cousins

 

George Mitchell makes case for Hillary Clinton to skeptical Maine voters

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

Good morning from Augusta. Yesterday’s political story of the day was in Lewiston, where former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell was stumping with Democratic 2nd Congressional District candidate Emily Cain.

That wasn’t a surprise: Mitchell, a Waterville native who rose to be Senate majority leader and czar for peace in the Middle East and Northern Ireland is a Democratic heavy-hitter who headlined a New York City fundraiser for Cain last week for her key rematch against Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin.

Mitchell hasn’t commented much on the 2016 presidential race, but he has also raised money for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. On Thursday, he told reporters, “She’ll be able to hit the ground running and deal with the many serious issues that we face in our country.”

But Clinton is having trouble in Maine, which normally favors Democrats in presidential elections: A poll this week showed her tied statewide with Trump and 10 points behind him in the more rural and conservative 2nd District, which is worth one of Maine’s four electoral votes.

Maine has gone for Democrats in every presidential election since 1992, but it has been thought for months that Trump’s party-bucking stances on issues like trade could have outsized sway in parts of Maine that have been hit hard by manufacturing job losses in recent years.

Mitchell acknowledged an economic anxiety in many parts of the electorate, including Maine, that “prosperity is not distributed throughout the country.” But he said Trump wants to take the country backward.

“And going backward doesn’t deal with these problems,” he said. “I believe that, come Election Day, a majority of Americans will understand that, act on that and elect Hillary Clinton as president.” — Michael Shepherd

In Maine’s, endorsements from sportsmen can get awkward

This week, the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine released its list of endorsements in federal and state races, backing Poliquin over Cain and longshot Republican Mark Holbrook over Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of the 1st District.

That was no surprise, since the powerful group that melds advocacy for guns, conservation, hunters and fishermen usually backs Republicans, with a smaller handful of Democrats always getting SAM’s backing in legislative races.

That’s what happened this year, but the politics behind SAM’s decisions is perhaps more complicated than it has been in the past.

While it’s a pretty conservative group working with Gov. Paul LePage in the Republican grassroots to defeat the gun background check expansion in Question 3 on November’s ballot, it was working with Democratic-oriented environmental groups to pressure LePage to release conservation bonds in 2015.

This balance makes this year’s endorsement list an interesting read, with a “special recognition” section for Democrats who got good marks from the group, but didn’t get an endorsement.

In a key race, SAM endorsed Sen. Rodney Whittemore, R-Skowhegan for re-election over House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe, D-Skowhegan, even though both got A+ grades.

SAM Executive Director David Trahan wrote that while “no one is more committed to protecting the Second Amendment” than Whittemore, the group is “lucky to have two great candidates.”

Unlike most Democrats, McCabe has spoken out against Question 3 and has long gotten the group’s backing in House races. He said after a close relationship with the group, he’s “disappointed to not receive an endorsement,” but “my focus and priorities remain the same.”

In an interview, Trahan said this endorsement and others were largely due to a policy that “if we have a friendly incumbent who we’ve worked well with in the past, they always get the endorsement.”

A few Democrats also benefited from that phenomenon, including former Maine Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson, D-Allagash. He’s not an incumbent, but was endorsed over the A+-rated Caribou City Councilor Tim Guerrette, a Republican.

The impact of these endorsements might be muted in most districts, but it’s something to think about in rural areas that will largely decide 2016’s nip-and-tuck race for legislative control— Michael Shepherd

Quick hits
  • Watch Monday’s first presidential debate with the Bangor Daily News in Portland. We’ll be projecting the 9 p.m. debate between Clinton and Trump at Think Tank Coworking at 533 Congress St. Food will be provided, but it’s BYOB. RSVP on Facebook.
  • The National Rifle Association released an ominous, six-minute video in its fight against Question 3. It features LePage, Trahan, Assistant Maine Senate Majority Leader Andre Cushing, Franklin County Sheriff Scott Nichols and others.
  • Blaine House repairs have pushed back LePage’s annual fall food drive. It’ll now happen in April 2017, according to the governor’s office.
Reading list Best of Maine’s Craigslist

As a 50-50 U.S. Senate looms, spotlight shines brighter on King, Collins

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

Good morning from Augusta, where a Politico story has us contemplating Maine having the two most powerful U.S. senators in the country. The story is built around the premise that the Senate, which is currently Republican-controlled, could end up in a 50-50 split between the major parties.

“That could be a nightmare in the making for whoever wins the White House,” reads the article.

But it could be a huge gift for Maine. Republican Sen. Susan Collins is already in a very powerful position because of her seniority and the fact that she is among the Senate’s most moderate Republicans. That means she occasionally votes against her party, which positions her to be a powerful swing vote.

Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King is in a similar position, though he caucuses with and almost always votes with Democrats. In a 50-50 Senate, he could wield considerable power. When he took office in 2013, King generated a bit of political drama about whether he would caucus with Senate Democrats, then the majority, or Republicans. Two years later, the question of which party’s caucus King would join prompted a lot less speculation but still drew attention from some pundits. At the moment, he appears firmly aligned with Democrats. Facing re-election in 2018, King, who has built a political career on independence and building bipartisan coalitions, won’t want to be linked to the epic partisan gridlock that could define a 50-50 Senate.

That’s the other side of this coin. An evenly divided Senate could give just about any senator the opportunity to go rogue against his or her party and stop everything from legislation to Cabinet appointments to Supreme Court nominees. Collins indicated she isn’t going to play that game.

“I hope we’re not going to get into blocking Cabinet members for the sake of blocking them,” she told Politico.

Thanks to Collins and former Republican U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe — who was another relative moderate — little old Maine has enjoyed arguably oversized political power in the Senate before. At one time, both Snowe and Collins were ranked by some publications as being among the most powerful women in Washington.

What’s the benefit of that for Maine? Though there is a long list of our senators’ accomplishments that benefited Maine, by design they operate mostly at the national and international level, obviously. Still, having the political spotlight shone on Maine’s representatives once in a while is a good thing for a state whose reputation among people from away is rooted around lobsters,  snow and a governor whose outbursts often draw international attention. — Christopher Cousins

Quick hits
  • Our roads are … good?: A new study by the Reason Foundation found that Maine’s highways ranked fifth best in the country in overall performance and cost-effectiveness. That’s a major increase from last year, when the foundation ranked Maine 16th. Maine was knocked in a few areas: The condition of our bridges ranked 38th and rural road land with was 35th. Spending on Maine highways, per mile, ranks 11th in the country.
  • Senior issues forum: The Bipartisan Policy Center will host host a policy forum Thursday in South Portland to discuss ways for Maine’s senior citizens to age at home. Among the speakers at the event will be Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King, who is expected to tout a bill he sponsored in July, the Senior Home Modification Assistance Initiative Act. Thursday’s forum begins at 9 a.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton Portland at 363 Maine Mall Road in South Portland.
  • Anti-LePage rally: Opponents of Gov. Paul LePage are organizing a “LePage Must Go!” rally at 11 a.m. Saturday on the mall in downtown Brunswick. The rally is being organized by a group called “Mainers for Government Accountability.”
  • Presidential debate coverage: The first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is Monday and we can hardly wait. The BDN will have aggressive and comprehensive live coverage, with reporters stationed throughout Maine and contributing to a live blog, which will launch about an hour before the debate’s 9 p.m. starting time. This is your chance to influence our coverage: What do you want to hear from the candidates or other people in Maine? Let us know with an email to ccousins@bangordailynews.com.
Reading list Vote Reddle for ruler of the world

Members of my sixth-grader’s class were asked a couple of weeks ago to pick a stuffed animal and create a campaign for it to become ruler of the world. My son chose a plush dolphin named Reddle that has flames down its sides.

Reddle is definitely a liberal. He is promising to build an international monorail system that includes tunnels across the oceans that are made of clear plastic tubing (so you can see all the beautiful underwater creatures during your trip). In addition, the U.S. would hire more wardens to crack down on littering and submarines would be re-purposed to patrolling the world’s waters, looking for litterers and cleaning up trash.

The class is giving speeches today for their candidates and my son was going over his talking points on index cards on the way to school.

“I have an idea,” I said. “Maybe Reddle is so fast that he can jump from the Atlantic Ocean over the entire United States and land in the Pacific Ocean, pooping out diamonds all across the land. That’d earn him some votes.”

My son gave me one of those “wow, you’re a whack-job, Dad” looks, which I see frequently.

“He must be fast,” I argued. “He lives underwater and he still has flames down his sides.”

“I think his promises have to be kind of realistic,” said my son.

This kid has a lot to learn about politics. Here’s Reddle’s soundtrack.Christopher Cousins

Gary Johnson is critically flawed, but deserves to debate

Matt Gagnon - Bangor Daily News -

In the past several months, I have been accused of being a Hillary Clinton supporter because I didn’t like Donald Trump.

I have been accused of “walking back” my previous aversion to Trump, moving toward some eventuality where I pull the lever for him. Why? Because I haven’t been negative enough about Trump recently, but have been intensely negative about Hillary.

I have been accused of being a Gary Johnson supporter, because I have made clear my distaste for both major party candidates, and because I have always self-identified as a libertarian-minded Republican.

Mind you, I’ve never said who I plan to vote for. These are the infantile rantings of the politically schizophrenic. Those who can’t wrap their brain around the idea that you can say nice things about someone occasionally without wanting to vote for them, and you can say negative things about somebody occasionally without wanting to vote for their opponent.

To be clear, I’m revolted by each and every one of my choices this year. My objections to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are well documented, but I am equally disappointed by Johnson.

Johnson ran for president as a Republican in 2012, and sought to occupy a space that Ron Paul owned four years prior — that of the anti-establishment libertarian. There was only one problem with that strategy. Ron Paul ran again, and Johnson had no base.

So Johnson left the Republican Party and became a Libertarian, ultimately proving inconsequential. He ran a more or less ideological libertarian campaign, and faded into darkness.

This year, he’s back, and again running as a Libertarian. Only the libertarianism Johnson espouses has morphed into a platform that looks a lot more like a moderate, borderline statist Republican’s agenda, which is reinforced by his selection of former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, a former Republican with a centrist, moderate reputation.

Fine. I have always thought the Libertarian Party could stand to be more realistic and practical about policy goals, which is one of the many reasons I never became a member of the party.

But Johnson lost me a long time ago. He has moved so far from the ideology he claims to espouse that it doesn’t look libertarian in any way any longer.

For example, philosophically, there is the idea that a Johnson administration would wish to appoint Supreme Court justices that shared the judicial philosophy of Merrick Garland — one of the most statist, activist government justices alive — and Stephen Breyer.

Gary Johnson. Gina Ferazzi | Los Angeles Times | TNS

Johnson is also pro-choice. That position is itself hotly debated in libertarian circles, but one thing basically everyone can agree on is whether you are pro-choice or pro-life, federal funding for Planned Parenthood is a nonstarter. So when Johnson told Larry King, “I am opposed to cutting the funding or eliminating funding to Planned Parenthood,” my teeth started grinding.

Johnson has rightly earned scorn for his stance on core libertarian tenets, such as religious liberty and freedom of association, specifically for his belief that it is appropriate to force businesses to accept clients (such as the famous wedding cake for a same-sex couple example) with whom they have deep religious objections. And that is to say nothing of his somewhat confused position advocating for a ban on burqas. Before he walked it back, at least.

The story continues. Johnson supports some version of cap and trade. He seems oddly supportive of restrictive gun policies. He believes the U.S. should continue to remain a participant in the United Nations, something virtually no libertarian ever believes.

Not libertarian in the least.

Then there are the other problems. Gotcha question or not, not knowing what Aleppo is. Being apparently clueless that people got hurt in last weekend’s three attacks. Suggesting he was unsure whether U.S. involvement in World War II was moral.

While I do like a lot about Johnson, it is safe to say I am uninspired about his prospects, effectiveness in the job, and his philosophical approach to governing.

Despite this, the decision by the debate commission to keep him out of the first presidential debate is arbitrary, ridiculous and a disservice to the American republic.

I’ve never been a third party advocate, and I have grave misgivings about Johnson’s campaign and candidacy, obviously. But for a major candidate who is on the ballot in all 50 states and is polling around 10 percent to be left off the stage is an outrage, and we shouldn’t stand for it.

Obama threatens to veto ‘onerous’ Poliquin bill on Iranian leaders’ finances

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a 2nd District Republican, speaks to supporters on election night in 2014. (BDN file photo by Gabor Degre)

Calling it “onerous,” President Barack Obama’s administration issued a Tuesday veto threat on a bill proposed by U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin that would force the U.S. to disclose financial information on top Iranian officials.

It’s linked to opposition from Poliquin and fellow Republicans to the Democratic president’s 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, an issue that has been prominent in his nationally targeted 2016 re-election rematch with Democrat Emily Cain.

That deal was an elaborate and complicated compromise, unfreezing roughly $100 billion in Iranian assets by rolling back sanctions in exchange for curbing a nuclear program that many thought was working toward building a bomb.

But Republican opposition to the deal has been fierce, fueled in part by two main issues — potential links between Iran and terror groups and a separate $1.7 billion settlement paid to Iran by the U.S.

The U.S. has labeled Iran a state sponsor of terrorism since 1984, and Secretary of State John Kerry said in January that some of the assets unfrozen under the deal could go to groups labeled as terrorist.

Also in January, the U.S. began paying a $1.7 billion settlement that had languished in an international court since 1981. The timing raised questions of “ransom” from Republicans because payment came after Iran released five American prisoners, and Obama has rejected that it was a ransom.

Poliquin’s bill, which was introduced in June and passed his House Financial Services Committee later that month, would make the U.S. Treasury file public reports on the estimated total of assets held by top Iranian officials — including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani — in U.S. and foreign banks and how those assets have been acquired and used.

In a June statement, Poliquin said it would “allow financial institutions to see in public form the type of assets associated with these individuals and hopefully better focus anti-money laundering efforts.”

But the Obama administration rejected that argument in the Tuesday veto threat, saying it would redirect Treasury resources away from identifying “Iranian entities engaged in sanctionable conduct” and “could also compromise intelligence sources and methods,” although Poliquin’s bill allows for some classification.

“Redirecting these assets to preparing this onerous public report would be counterproductive and will not reduce institutional corruption or promote transparency within Iran’s system,” the statement said.

In a statement, Poliquin termed the settlement a “ransom,” saying “while I understand the White House’s concerns, I hope that we can work together to make sure this legislation is signed into law to shed light on the sources and beneficiaries of Iran’s finances.”

That’s unlikely, and the bill hasn’t come up in the House of Representatives yet. Meanwhile, the National Republican Congressional Committee is attacking Cain on her support of the Iran deal in TV ads. She called it a “starting point” that needs to be strengthened in an interview on WVOM earlier this month.

“Nobody, ever, ever wants any money to go to terrorism,” she said. “That’s wrong and to say otherwise is a ridiculous political attack and it’s one of the reasons people hate politics when you say something like that.”

 

LePage named fifth-most disliked governor in national poll

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

Good morning from Augusta, where the country’s fifth-most disliked governor resides, according to the latest poll from Morning Consult.

Gov. Paul LePage registered at 58 percent disapproval among Mainers in the latest survey conducted between May and September, which barely moved from the group’s past two surveys released in May 2016 and November 2015.

Only four governors — Republicans Sam Brownback of Kansas, Chris Christie of New Jersey and Rick Snyder of Michigan and Democrat Dan Malloy of Connecticut — had higher disapproval ratings than LePage.

Most of this survey was done before the governor’s latest controversy over remarks about black and Hispanic drug dealers and his profane voicemail to a Democratic legislator who criticized him, but LePage’s approval numbers have been pretty consistent over the years.

In biannual surveys from Critical Insights going back to 2011, he has ranged between 31 percent and 47 percent approval, most often falling within three points of 40 percent.

But he won re-election in 2014 with 47 percent of votes. Going into his last two years in office, it seems Mainers have gone to their corners on the governor’s performance, with more against him than with him. — Michael Shepherd

Maine ethics officials: Ban PACs from paying legislators who run them

Staff at the Maine Ethics Commission has floated changes to state law that would prohibit state legislators from paying themselves out of the coffers of political action committees that they run.

Now, PACs must be formed to spend certain sums to influence Maine elections. But once a committee is formed, there are no restrictions on where that money is spent.

Often, legislators run “leadership PACs,” which are aimed at helping party legislative campaigns or bolstering chances for leadership positions. Two legislators have gained attention over the last two years for paying themselves or family from the PACs that they run.

In 2014, Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting found that former Sen. John Tuttle, D-Sanford, paid himself and family $17,000 from his PAC, which was more than half the money it spent in the past six years.

This year, the group reported that Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland, paid herself more than $7,700 from her PAC, which also supported travel and food.

All of this was legal, but it could have hurt both at the ballot box: Tuttle was ousted by Republican David Woodsome of North Waterboro in 2014 and Russell lost a June primary for a Maine Senate seat to Rep. Ben Chipman, D-Portland.

The change, which would ban PAC payments to legislators or their family if the legislator is an officer or treasurer of that PAC, is part of a package of proposed laws that commission staff are presenting to commissioners at a Sept. 28 meeting.

If approved there, the Maine Legislature will likely consider them in the session starting in January. — Michael Shepherd

Quick hits Reading list Best of Maine’s Craigslist
  • Worst of Maine’s Craigslist: Craigslist can be helpful! It’s also a bad place with horrible people like this Down East man asking, “Hey ladies…..wondering how to pay to heat your home this winter?” The answer? “Adult companionship.”
  • This man, however, just wants to write letters: The title from this Massachusetts man is helpful: “I’m not looking for a threesome, just a correspondence.” This “enthusiastic urban walker” has “never been in a fistfight” and is “often praised for my sense of humor.” Here’s your soundtrack. — Michael Shepherd

Trump draws even with Clinton in new Maine poll

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump smiles at a Portland rally in March. (Troy R. Bennett – BDN)

Hillary Clinton is in danger of being the first Democrat to lose Maine in a presidential election since 1988, with a poll released Tuesday showing her tied statewide with Republican Donald Trump.

The survey from the progressive Maine People’s Resource Center is the most worrying sign for the Democrat here so far, reinforcing a clear Trump lead in the rural, more conservative 2nd Congressional District.

Clinton got 37 percent of votes in the group’s four-candidate poll, effectively tied with Trump, who had 36.7 percent. Libertarian Gary Johnson had 11.1 percent and the Green Party’s Jill Stein had 4.6 percent, with only 10.6 percent undecided. The MPRC sampled 835 likely voters with an error margin of 3.4 percent.

Those third-party candidates are harming Clinton: Head to head, she led Maine with 45 percent to Trump’s 39.9 percent.

Maine is one of two states to award electors by congressional district. The state winner gets two Electoral College votes, while the winner in each district picks up one vote. The two districts have never split before, but as it stands, a split is likely.

In MPRC’s poll, Trump got 44.3 percent to Clinton’s 33.2 percent in the 2nd District while Clinton got 40.5 percent to Trump’s 29.8 percent in the 1st District.

This is becoming a clear trend. Two other polls this month in the 2nd District — one from Emerson College and the other from The Boston Globe —  had Trump up by 5 points and 10 points, respectively. Statewide, Clinton was up by nine points in the Emerson poll and three points in the Globe poll.

This week, Sabato’s Crystal Ball moved the 2nd District from “Leans Democratic” to “Leans Republican, while leaving Maine as “Likely Democratic.” The older, heavily white demographics of the district favor Trump, who has polled well in similar areas.

This follows national tightening in the race over the past week. Real Clear Politics has Clinton leading Trump by one point in its most recent averages and Clinton maintains an edge on its projected electoral map.

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, Clinton’s running mate, was in Maine for a fundraiser last week and told the Bangor Daily News that “because of the way you allocate the electoral votes, we really want to do what we can to win CD2.”

But for now, it looks like they’ll have to fight to win the state.

Angus King: Trump’s immigrant ban would come at ‘terrible cost’

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

Bangor Daily News photo by Seth Koenig

Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King on Tuesday rejected Donald Trump’s argument that the United States should close its borders to immigrants.

King, the former governor whom Maine voters overwhelmingly elected to the Senate in 2012, said on CNN’s “New Day” program, which was subsequently summarized by The Hill, that ending immigration would be a “terrible loss” and that doing so would cause irreparable damage.

“There are gaps in the system and you have to look at them,” said King. “You also have to look at the law of large numbers. There are going to be problems. You’re never going to reach perfection. If we have to wait until we are satisfied that the system is absolutely perfect … then you wait forever.”

King said about half of illegal immigrants have merely overstayed their visas and that the vast majority of immigrants mean no harm.

“Everyone from Albert Einstein to Donald Trump’s ancestors and mine and yours came in through the immigration system,” said King. “To shut everything down all of a sudden I think would be at a terrible cost to the country, not commensurate with the risk that would be allayed.”

King’s comments come as Trump has made immigration a controversial yet central theme in his presidential campaign. Trump has called for a range of crackdowns on illegal immigrants, including suggesting that as president he would build a wall between the United States and Mexico and advocating that the country’s roughly 11 million illegal immigrants — including asylum seekers working their way through the immigration process — should be deported. On Monday, he suggested that the “extremely open immigration system” was to blame for the weekend’s bombings in Manhattan.

Officials have said the prime suspect in the bombings has lived in the U.S. since he moved here from Afghanistan with his parents as a young boy, though that has not been confirmed by the Department of Homeland Security.

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton takes a sharply different stance on immigration and along with President Barack Obama’s administration has vowed to keep the U.S. open to refugees and asylum seekers, as is required in international law.

King caucuses with Democrats in the Senate, which makes his critical comments about Trump perhaps less surprising. However, Trump has taken considerable fire from within his own party for his immigration proposals, including from Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. In August, Collins criticized Trump for what she called “disparaging” remarks he made about Maine’s Somali population during a campaign stop in Portland.

“Mr. Trump’s statements disparaging immigrants who have come to this country legally are particularly unhelpful,” said Collins. “Maine has benefited from people from Europe, the Middle East, Asia and increasingly, Africa, including our friends from Somalia.”

Both Collins and King have said they won’t vote for Trump for president. King has endorsed Clinton while Collins has said she does not intend to vote for either major-party candidate.

LePage says Fairchild sale will lead to the job cuts he predicted in April

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

Good morning from Augusta, where Gov. Paul LePage is saying “told ya so” (that’s a paraphrase) regarding major manufacturing job losses in southern Maine.

During his weekly radio appearance Tuesday morning on WVOM, LePage said he’s known about the sale of Fairchild Semiconductor of South Portland to an Arizona-based company for months and that it was one of the businesses he was talking about in early April when he said he expected 900 job losses this summer in southern Maine.

The sale of Fairchild Semiconductor was announced Monday. It was unclear how the sale will affect the Maine workforce.

“I’ve known about the semiconductor since last April where I sort of hinted there was going to be some major employers leaving,” said LePage. “The likelihood of them leaving, it’s unfortunately, is a high probability.”

Fairchild Semiconductor employs more than 600 people in South Portland. After his prediction that Maine would lose 900 jobs this summer, LePage revised his estimate later in April and said the job losses in this year could reach as many as 1,500.

As he has for years, LePage blamed Maine’s high energy costs and top corporate income tax rate of more than 8.9 percent — and legislative Democrats — for putting the Fairchild jobs at risk and for hurting Bath Iron Works in its losing bid to secure a multi-billion-dollar Coast Guard cutter contract.

“If we’re going to make Maine competitive, let’s stop talking about [lowering energy costs and taxes] and do something about it,” said LePage. “The Democrats are not interested in being competitive in business. They’re interested in being the No. 1 welfare state in America.”

There are plenty of folks, namely Democrats, who take issue with that statement.

“When Paul LePage decides he is interested in accepting responsibility and working on solutions for Maine people and Maine’s challenges, he knows where to find us,” said Assistant House Majority Leader Sara Gideon in response to questions from the BDN. “In the meantime, we will remain busy working on the policy, the planning and the bipartisan relationship building that it will take to dig us out of his six years of inaction. Because creating jobs, bringing and keeping young people and families into our state and engineering the lost-cost and low-emission energy grid of our future is what’s keeping us busy right now.”

Senate Minority Leader Justin Alfond of Portland added to Gideon’s criticism of the governor.

“The contract loss at BIW and uncertainty at Fairchild Semiconductor have put a cloud over thousands of Mainers and their livelihoods,” he said in a written statement. “Those Mainers need their political leaders to work together to ensure they have good jobs that are here to stay. The governor’s finger-pointing does nothing to help them.”

LePage went on to make some more questionable statements about defense spending at the federal level. LePage said defense spending has been axed under Democratic presidents and blamed them for the closure of Maine’s military bases.

“It goes back to when [President Jimmy] Carter was there,” said LePage. “The Republicans had to come back in and fix it. [George] H.W. [Bush] maintained it, Clinton cut it. And then George [W. Bush] built it back up and Obama cut it. It’s just a pattern. We go through this every time we’ve gone from a Republican to a Democratic administration.”

Two important points should be noted:

  1. Congress sets the budget, not the president. While the administration presents a spending proposal, Congress has the authority to determine spending.
  2. When Carter took office, the Vietnam war was winding down, meaning that the U.S. was coming out of an active wartime budget.

Let’s look more closely at the numbers. The United States dwarfs all other countries in defense spending and since 2001, the defense budget has jumped from $287 billion to $530 billion, according to an analysis by the Washington Post. Defense spending did increase under [President Ronald] Reagan (funded in part by tax increases) and fall under Clinton but was ramped up significantly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Military spending has dipped in recent years due in part to budget sequestration measures that resulted from a failure by Congress to agree on a federal budget.

The decision to close Brunswick Naval Air Station was made in 2005, under Republican President George W. Bush. Loring Air Force Base in northern Maine was closed in 1991, under Republican President George H.W. Bush. – Christopher Cousins

Quick hits
  • Democrats looking forward: Democratic legislative leaders will gather tonight in Topsham to discuss their vision of policies they wish to pursue that they say will help Maine’s young families and businesses. The event, which begins at 5:30 p.m. at Mt. Ararat High School in Topsham, will include Senate Minority Leader Justin Alfond of Portland; House Speaker Mark Eves of North Berwick; Assistant House Majority Leader Sara Gideon of Freeport; Assistant Senate Democratic Leader Dawn Hill of Cape Neddick; and Rep. Denise Tepler of Topsham.
  • Joe Brennan archives: Former Democratic Gov. Joseph E. Brennan will be the honoree Wednesday for the dedication of the aptly named Gov. Joseph E. Brennan Archives at the Maine Irish Heritage Center in Portland. The center will showcase Brennan’s more than fiv decades of public service through the use of documents, filmed interviews and other artifacts. The event at 34 Gray St. in Portland begins at 5:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Among the speakers will be Brennan and former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell.
  • Housing assistance hearing: Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine will host a hearing in Washington on Wednesday that examines the effectiveness of federally funded housing assistance programs. The hearing will examine ways to improve the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s programs, which consume 84 percent of the budget but serve only an estimated 25 percent of families that qualify.
Reading list Salute (or hug) your IT professional

Today is National IT Professionals day and as we all know, those are the people who keep the world running. I can tell you that’s especially true at newspaper and media organizations, so I thought observation of this holiday was appropriate if I want the Daily Brief to post and circulate as it should.

If your IT professional isn’t available or effective, I pray for you. Here’s your soundtrack. — Christopher Cousins

Johnson and Stein cannot win, but they can help Trump win

Amy Fried - Bangor Daily News -

Republican strategist Karl Rove wanted Maine’s electoral votes in 2000 but didn’t get them. A story broke five days before Election Day about George W. Bush’s charge for driving under the influence in Kennebunkport when he was 30. As Rove recounted, campaign polling had Bush ahead in Maine before the news. Winning Maine and several other close states “would have allowed him to win the White House without Florida.”

Again this year, Maine’s presidential possibilities are being noticed. Maine hasn’t gone red in a presidential race since George H.W. Bush beat Mike Dukakis in 1988. Some recent polls show a close statewide vote and a lead for Republican Donald Trump in the 2nd Congressional District. Trump’s poll standing is a few percentage points behind the statewide votes for Mitt Romney in 2012 and John McCain in 2008. Democrat Hillary Clinton has a smaller lead than Barack Obama in polls taken four and eight years ago.

With Trump and Clinton behind past party nominees, the difference is made up by Gary Johnson and Jill Stein voters who, in the Boston Globe/Colby College/Survey USA poll, together attract 14 percent support. The Maine Beacon poll similarly found a Clinton lead in a two-way race with Trump but a virtual tie when Johnson and Stein are included. Past results like this led to this year’s referendum for ranked-choice voting, a system of ranking preferred candidates that offers to better reflect majority preferences.

Why is Clinton lagging Obama? One, Trump uses what columnist Mike Tipping called “LePage’s winning playbook”: anti-immigrant messages, a similar temperament and appeals to white working-class voters who have little personal contact with black and Latino people.

It is also about how Clinton is seen, in part because of negative media coverage even when facts are worse for Trump. For instance, the highly rated Clinton Foundation, which has saved millions of lives, has been the subject of far more and more negative stories than the Trump Foundation. Yet reporters note that emails between State Department officials and Clinton Foundation staff just revealed bad optics. In contrast, the Trump Foundation made an improper $25,000 campaign donation to Florida District Attorney Pam Bondi, who was then considering whether to file a suit against Trump University on behalf of students who said they were defrauded. Bondi then decided not to pursue a case. The Trump Foundation rented Trump properties at very high prices for charity events and purchased a six-foot tall $20,000 painting of Donald Trump for display in a Trump resort.

Whatever the reasons, Johnson and Stein voters matter. Stein voters, many of whom supported Bernie Sanders, see Clinton as their second choice. Some Sanders backers support Johnson, a libertarian whose views are quite different from Sanders’.

Sanders makes three main arguments for Clinton. One is that Clinton is far superior to Trump on paying for college, climate change, financial regulation, minimum wage, health care, court appointments, reproductive choice, Social Security and other issues. Moreover, Clinton supports a highly progressive Democratic platform.

Second, Sanders denounces Trump’s many lies, including Trump’s most prominent — birtherism. In 2011, Obama released his long form birth certificate but Trump continued to question his birthplace. Despite no new evidence, Trump finally acknowledged reality the other day. Sanders said, “[W]hat the birther movement was about was not being critical of Obama. . . It was delegitimizing the first African-American president.”

Third, Sanders argues that Trump is so unqualified, wrong on issues and poorly suited for the presidency that “this is not time for a protest vote.” Stein and Johnson cannot win but they can help Trump.

In 2000, Bush won Florida in part because of Ralph Nader voters picking Nader rather than Democrat Al Gore, and also because of a recount ended by the U.S. Supreme Court, a confusing ballot design in Palm Beach County that assigned votes for Pat Buchanan rather than Gore, and the wrongful disenfranchisement of African-Americans incorrectly placed on a list of felons.

As Sanders, Rove and the rest of us remember, what happened in 2000 had huge consequences for our nation and the world. A Gore win would have meant much earlier action on climate change, a greater focus on fighting nonstate terrorism, no Iraq War, different Supreme Court Justices, more support for education, infrastructure, health care, and many other differences. Then and now, every vote matters.

Is Maine’s 2nd District already in Donald Trump’s column?

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

Good morning from Augusta, where we’re seeing a normally Democratic Maine take perhaps its most prominent role in a presidential race in two decades because of its more conservative 2nd Congressional District.

On Monday, Sabato’s Crystal Ball switched the 2nd District from “Leans Democratic” to “Leans Republican,” amid national polls that are tightening in Republican Donald Trump’s favor.

Maine has supported Democrats in every presidential election since 1992, when Bill Clinton flipped the long-standing Republican state in his victory over President George H.W. Bush, who summers in Kennebunkport.

But 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is having more trouble here against Trump: She was up by just three points statewide in a poll released last week by The Boston Globe and down 10 points in the 2nd District, which is worth one electoral vote.

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, Clinton’s vice presidential nominee, told the Bangor Daily News before a Maine fundraiser on Thursday that “we really want to do what we can to win CD2.”

This also brought Matt Pinnell, the state party director for the National Republican Committee, to Maine this weekend for a confab with state party officials.

In an interview, he called the state “absolutely in play,” saying people are “tired of career politicians and ready for an outsider.” He said Trump may be doing well enough in the 2nd District to see a “coattail effect” in favor of other Republicans.

We haven’t seen much polling at that more granular level, but the Globe poll had 2nd District U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a Republican, up five points on Democrat Emily Cain, who’s challenging him in a 2014 rematch that’s one of the biggest House races in the country. Democrats led Republicans by four points statewide on a generic question about legislative races.

National Republicans hammered Cain in an ad that started airing earlier this month for her long-standing support of Clinton, but what’s notable about that attack is that Poliquin hasn’t endorsed Trump, going to great lengths not to talk about him publicly over the past year.

Pinnell said that shouldn’t make a difference to Trump or Poliquin in the 2nd District, saying “I think voters very rarely make that correlation” and “the important thing” is that Trump supports the House Republican platform.

It’s still hard to tell how Trump is changing politics in the 2nd District — if at all. But it’s clear that the district’s older, heavily white demographics are helping him push back against Maine’s presidential history. — Michael Shepherd

Quick hits Reading list Best of Maine’s Craigslist
  • “Optimist,” conspiracy theorist seeks same : A man new to Maine and seeking friends thinks all men he’s met here “are “Godless and Moralless and addicts”, but he’s “looking for someone who’s a optimist type as I tend to dislike people who dwell on negativity and spend their time complaining.” He’s also a Sept. 11th “truther” and if you’re not, “chances are your a sheeple and we won’t get along.” Here’s your soundtrack.
  • LePage wins in ‘Rants and Raves': This Craigslist section is the site’s political haven, with LePage as its most popular figure. Least popular? Probably Clinton. But some guy named Gibby is also hated. — Michael Shepherd

LePage rips ‘PC’ Clinton, predicts Trump will win Maine

State and Capitol - Bangor Daily News -

Good morning from Augusta, where Gov. Paul LePage has made a prediction about the results of the presidential race in Maine: Donald Trump will secure three of Maine’s four electoral votes.

LePage, who has said recently he won’t speak to reporters anymore, told a reporter for Brietbart News, a conservative national outlet, that Trump will win the state overall, in addition to besting Hillary Clinton in the 2nd Congressional District. Since Maine is one of two states that splits its electoral votes — though it never has — that would give Trump three votes: Two for winning Maine and one for the 2nd District. The fourth vote, according to LePage’s prediction, would go to Clinton for winning the more liberal 1st Congressional District in southern Maine.

LePage drew parallels between Trump’s rise and his own: Americans want to hear the “plain truth,” not the “political correct truth.”

“The American people are getting it now,” said LePage. “They are tired of the smooth-talking, slick-talking snake oil salesmen that are called ‘politicians.’ The American people want the plain truth and it is that simple. … Hillary and her crowd can be as PC as they want, but they are going to be on the outside looking in in November.”

LePage could very well be correct. A new poll released this week by Colby College and The Boston Globe shows Trump with a 10-point lead in the 2nd Congressional District and within a few points of Clinton statewide. Although the survey sample size is small — as is the case with most Maine polls this year — the new poll is the first to show Trump ahead by more than the margin of error in the 2nd District.

Talk of Maine’s place in the election landscape — and whose paths to victory could come through the Pine Tree State — is common in presidential election years, but perhaps more intense now than it has been in the past. At about this time in 2012, Republican nominee Mitt Romney led by 5 points in the 2nd District and trailed Barack Obama by only 4 points statewide. Obama ended up with all four electoral votes on his path to the presidency.

Are you wanting more speculation about how the presidential race will turn out? There’s a lot out there but this one from the Cook Political Report (written by a Colby College alum) is especially interesting because it contemplates Maine’s role in the election both ways: as both a red and blue state. There’s even a scenario where Clinton wins Maine but the electoral race ends up in a 269-269 tie.

The takeaway? Make sure you make time to vote this year. You alone could sway the election. — Christopher Cousins

Quick hits
  • Clinton cash: A fundraiser event in Cape Elizabeth on Thursday evening with vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine netted substantial donations, according to a Clinton aide who provided the information on the condition of anonymity. The aide said approximately 200 attendees paid between $1,000 to $2,700 to attend; the hosts raised more than $10,000 and the chairs of the event raised more than $33,400.
  • Tribal protest: In concert with a wider, national effort, representatives from the Penobscot Nation and others will gather Saturday in Portland in protest of a proposal to build the Dakota Access fracked oil pipeline across four states and under the Missouri River. The event begins at 12:30 p.m. in Congress Square Park.
Reading list Dire warnings from political fund raising emails

Last year, the Daily Brief looked at how national political groups are hounding us for donations and what they do to snare our attention in our email inboxes. The emails have continued since then with subject lines that suggest everything from the apocalypse to slight inconveniences. Here are a few of my recent “favorites.”

  • “Kiss everything goodbye.” That’s from Vice President Joe Biden, who ought to know. Aaaaaahhhhhh!! Even goats? Please not the goats, Joe, especially the baby ones!
  • “Major trouble.” But it can be avoided with a donation of just $8, according to the Democrats Win Seats PAC.
  • “*eye roll*” I expected to see a teenager who’s too cool for the rest of us in this email, but it turns out the Republicans are going to “punish” Democrats for their sit-in on gun safety this summer. You can fix the situation by sending some cash to Steny Hoyer’s AmeriPAC.
  • “Democrats OBLITERATED.” It opens with a quote from Barack Obama: “The House — we have a chance to win.” Did I miss something here?
  • “Nate Silver: ‘error.’” The country’s leading data cruncher is invoked here, saying Trump will be president if Clinton loses any one of the following: New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Colorado or Virginia. I’m sure losing California would also be bad for Clinton. Right, Nate?
  • “Please read (don’t delete).” I couldn’t resist. I deleted it unread. Sorry, Michelle Obama.
  • “Tomorrow.” That’s from former Republican presidential candidate John Kasich. The message? Kasich will be in Washington D.C. tomorrow. … Sorry I almost passed out. This subject line is not so scary, but maybe not so effective either?
  • “Orono/Bangor, join us for a happy hour!” Now there’s an effective fundraising email subject line, in my opinion, and it comes from Maine’s own Maine Heritage Policy Center. I predict they’ll be well funded in the near future, not to mention well lubricated with cocktails. Here’s their soundtrack. (Disclaimer: The Daily Brief does not condone or suggest drunk driving. Neither does MHPC, I assume.)
  • “Not all disasters are brought to us by nature.” Yeah, that seems highly relevant right about now, but it was just the Maine Emergency Management Agency reminding us that if we’re not worried enough about the weather, there are always “chemical spills, fires, explosions and terrorism” to plan for. Those dangers seem mild compared with what some of the political groups are saying. — Christopher Cousins

Pages

Subscribe to As Maine Goes aggregator