Gov. Paul LePage told a crowd of Republicans last week that he would call on Democratic gubernatorial candidate Janet Mills to step down from her position as attorney general for campaigning on the job. The governor, who himself has used his taxpayer-funded communications staff to assist him in attacking Mills and Democratic congressional candidate Jared Golden, made the remarks during a campaign event for Republican State House candidate Guy Lebida of Bowdoin on July 31.

“You’re going to hear this week that I’m going to come out and ask Janet Mills to either resign as attorney general or take a leave of absence,” LePage said on a Facebook video of the event, which has since been taken down. “She is no longer acting as an attorney general and she hasn’t been for weeks. She is running her office like a campaign headquarters, and I’m going to call her out on it.”

The governor has feuded with Mills for years because she has refused to represent him on a number of his legal cases. When asked about his statements by WGME reporter Marissa Bodnar last week at the State House, LePage denied that he is calling on Mills to resign. And when Bodnar asked if he would also ask independent gubernatorial candidate Terry Hayes to resign from her position as state treasurer if he called on Mills to step down, the governor exploded.







“I am not asking her. What are you trying to do to me?” LePage snapped as he strode toward the exit.

“We’re just asking about the video,” Bodnar said. “You said you were calling on her to resign.”

As LePage headed through the door, he bellowed over his shoulder, “You are one bad lady!”

On Tuesday, LePage sent letters to both Mills and Hayes asking them to either resign or take a leave of absence because, he argued, their “political ambition shouldn’t come at the expense of the Maine people.” However, LePage hasn’t applied this same standard to Republicans holding taxpayer-funded positions while running for office. Back in 2012, then-State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin, then-Attorney General Bill Schneider and then-Secretary of State Charlie Summers, the eventual nominee, all ran for US Senate and didn’t resign from office while campaigning. LePage also ran for re-election in 2014 without resigning as governor.

Meanwhile, the governor has reignited another longstanding feud with the MSEA-SEIU, which represents state employees. In last week’s weekly address, LePage blasted the labor union over its criticism of the administration for not hiring enough child protective case workers to implement a litany of new reforms meant to overhaul the child welfare system in the wake of the deaths of two children allegedly at the hands of their caregivers. A number of caseworkers have complained to the press about heavy workloads and unworkable new policies to apply extra scrutiny on all child welfare complaints that are making it difficult to focus on the most serious cases of potential cases of abuse and neglect.

In his address, LePage said that the union never attempted to meet with him to discuss working conditions and he said he intends to submit bills to add staff, but only after he passes legislation to bolster training for caseworkers. He argued that a recent Supreme Court decision that makes it optional for public employees to contribute union dues is influencing the union’s decision to criticize his administration.

“It is disgusting that the union’s need for dues money is finally motivating them to take an active interest in supporting our state workers in the child welfare system,” said LePage. “Maybe if the unions had partnered with management, we would have already made many of these needed reforms.”

In a statement, MSEA-SEIU Local 1989 President Ramona Welton said that union members have been calling attention to LePage’s refusal to address staffing and recruitment issues in Maine DHHS and the rest of state government for years.

“We hear from caseworkers every day that they are fed up with trying to raise these issues to the deaf ears of department leadership and together they are standing up publicly for a meaningful voice and real investment solutions,” said Welton. “If, after seven and a half years, the Governor is only now realizing we’ve been raising these and other concerns, he hasn’t been paying attention.”