LePage bars others’ testimony, setting up too strange for fiction scene

I’ve heard political news so bizarre that it seemed like if someone wrote it into a script, no one would make that movie. The plot was just too unbelievable.

We may be nearing that time in Maine.

It’s already been a dramatic and odd week in Maine politics

On the this really matters front, the legislature passed a bill that would get health care for 70,000 low-income working people. That’s a lot of folks, but it comes down to individuals who wouldn’t put off needed care because they worried about bills. It means life and death survival for some.

Photo credit: Troy R. Bennett l BDN

On the odd side, Gov. LePage said he’d move out of the statehouse because he was asked to fill out some paperwork to let him display a message on a television in the hall.  He was also mad that he wasn’t allow to walk into a legislative work session that was about to end and speak. So he told everyone how he’s pragmatic and that Maine people “are being played for patsies.”

And just before Democrats were about to hold an event celebrating passing Medicaid expansion and the hospital debt repayment, LePage held his own and symbolically vetoed the bill.

But things may be about to get odder still

In contrast to the normal way the Maine Legislature works

Gov. Paul LePage has instructed state department heads to stop appearing before the Legislature’s budget-writing committee. If someone from the administration is asked to speak before the committee, according to the governor’s office, it will be LePage himself. . .

The order could especially limit appearances by [Commissioner of Health and Human Services Mary] Mayhew and Sawin Millett, commissioner of the Department of Administrative and Financial Services. [Source]

Now, LePage may never go, since evidently LePage has not barred Mayhew and Millett from answering questions posed in emails and phone calls.

Still, imagine Gov. LePage testifying to the committee, answering question after question. It’s possible he won’t insert all sorts of comments, I suppose.

But it’s unlikely to be the boring, CSPAN variety testimony. And it’s unlikely to evoke the sweetly heroic Jimmy Stewart in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”

(Maybe there’s something fictional the LePage governorship that this recent development resembles. If so, I’d love to hear some ideas.)

But to me, this is becoming close to implausible for a movie script.

In any case, what “Mr. LePage goes to the legislative committee” most likely would do would be to attract the kind of national attention that isn’t flattering to Maine. For an example, see this recent article in the Washington Post.

And rather than calming the waters, it stirs them up, making it harder to deal with the people’s business.

Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.