Sen. Katz’ Response to Gov. LePage’s July 6 Radio Comments
Sen. Katz’ Response to Gov. LePage’s July 6 Radio Comments
Gov. Paul LePage once again went on a friendly right-wing talk radio show last week to demonize state employees and the press. And as usual, he told a bunch of lies. What followed was yet another pointless media spectacle, proving once again that as much as the governor hates the press, he appears to relish getting headlines for his antics.

It all started last Thursday morning during LePage’s weekly softball game on the WGAN Morning Show with Maine Heritage Policy Center CEO Matt Gagnon and Portland City Counselor Spencer Thibodeau following the three-day state government shutdown. Gagnon greeted the governor with a “Hail the conquering hero!” in his typical obsequious manner. The right-wing host then asked the governor about media reports that the governor had said he planned to leave the state to go on vacation on day three of the shutdown. A Senate Republican spokeswoman told The Free Press that the governor had indeed told Senate leaders that he was leaving for 10 days. But the governor’s press flack Peter Steele denied it and called those reports “100 percent fake news” to other media outlets.

“In the 11th hour it was amazing to watch the press reports,” said Gagnon, giggling. “I mean, and finding a reporter’s Twitter feed and just dumping all of this stuff that they were just gossip mongering and rumor mongering. How about the stuff on the vacation? Were you planning to go to Florida?”

The governor gleefully told Gagnon that the press “got taken line, hook and sinker.”

“This is the comment I made: it was Monday. I said my pen’s on vacation. I have nothing to sign. Next you know I’m on my way to Florida,” the governor said. “I mean, give me a break, guys…. This is when you know that it’s not about the press. It’s not about reporting. It’s about poking a certain person in the eye for six and a half years. Shame on them.”

Gagnon continued, “And all they had from your office was, I think, Peter Steele gave them something that said that was 100 percent false. And they still reported it. It was weird.”

The governor replied that the press is “vile and inaccurate” for reporting it. He then uttered a nugget of truth.

“I just love to sit in my office and make up ways so they’ll write these stupid stories. I mean they are just so stupid it’s awful,” LePage said. “I’m sorry, but I’ll tell ya, the sooner the print press goes away, the better society will be.”

But after a public records request, several media outlets released the actual voicemail message the governor left for Sen. Roger Katz (R-Kennebec Cty.), which proved he was lying about the whole silly controversy.

“Yeah Roger, this is Gov. LePage, I’m heading out of town for about 10 days and I’d like to speak to you before I leave,” said the governor in the July 3 phone message. “So could you give me a call, please? Thank you.”

Upon release of the governor’s voicemail, reporters took to Twitter to share their favorite lies the governor has told over the years. For some it was his story about how wind turbines have little engines in them to trick people into thinking the technology works. For others it was his racist assertion that 90 percent of the drug dealers busted in Maine are black or Hispanic. My personal favorite was his 2010 whopper that “Maine is the only state in the United States that charges a sales tax on bull semen.” No, Maine does not tax that particular bodily fluid. 

On Thursday night, the governor (or his staff) attempted to “clarify” his comments in a Facebook post stating that he “was attempting to get Senators to return his call during the midst of the negotiations” in leaving the voicemail for Katz. “When media contacted the Governor’s office regarding a vacation the office was 100% accurate and clear that the Governor was not taking a vacation,” it stated. 

The governor’s account then got into a debate in the comments section with a random commenter from Lousiana about the tax policies of Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards. But Sen. Katz was particularly disturbed by the governor’s comments about the media.

“This morning on WGAN, the Governor suggested that society would be better off without a free press,” wrote Katz on Facebook. “That ought to scare the hell out of anyone even vaguely familiar with history.”

In other news, during the WGAN appearance, the governor also made a completely unsubstantiated accusation that state employees had vandalized vehicles owned by House Republicans during the state shutdown. 

“You know, we paid state employees on Monday and we paid them on Tuesday,” LePage told Gagnon. “And I’m saying, c’mon lets grow up folks. Ya don’t key cars,” said LePage. “We were trying to make this the shortest shutdown ever. I did everything possible so no state employee would be hurt and what do you do? You come around and you start keying cars. Shame on you.”

The governor appeared to be referring to a rumor that Rep. Tim Theriault’s (R-China) Mercedes was keyed in the legislative parking lot; however, Capitol Police determined it was not vandalized as the marks on the car rubbed off. Rep. Sheldon Hannington (R-Lincoln) also speculated that protestors may have dented the door of his truck up in Lincoln, despite providing zero evidence. Not to be outdone, Gagnon, without providing any backup, said that he had heard reports that protesters spit on lawmakers.