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LePage Faces Firm Deadline on “Drug Dealer Mugshot Binder”

Gov. Paul LePage has until the end of the day today to comply with a request under Maine's Freedom of Access Act to reveal the contents of a binder he says he maintains containing mugshots of drug dealers. (Office of Gov. LePage)
Gov. Paul LePage has until the end of the day today to comply with a request under Maine's Freedom of Access Act to reveal the contents of a binder he says he maintains containing mugshots of drug dealers. (Office of Gov. LePage)
September 1, 2016

AUGUSTA, Maine – Embattled Gov. Paul LePage faces a Sept. 1 deadline to respond to a Freedom of Access Act request to reveal the contents of a binder he says he keeps on drug dealers.

LePage said the binder proves that “90 percent of Maine's drug problem" is caused by people of color coming from out-of-state to deal drugs. The governor has gone back and forth about whether he will serve out the remainder of his term.

Alison Beyea, executive director of the ACLU of Maine said the deadline for LePage to respond to her group's official request for information is firm.

"There's no way that nine out of 10 people bringing drugs into Maine are black,” Beyea said. "So, if we really are arresting nine out of 10 people, and they are black, then we definitely have a racial profiling problem."

Beyea said the other option - that LePage may be exaggerating criminal activity by people of color for political purposes - is just as concerning.

FBI crime statistics from 2014 indicate only 14 percent of those arrested for selling or manufacturing drugs that year were African American.

Several hundred Mainers turned out for a rally on Wednesday to call for LePage's resignation. He responded that it isn't going to happen, and that he will no longer talk to reporters.

State Senate Democratic Leader Justin Alfond, D-Dist. 8, said the public outcry is justified given a voice message released to the public in which LePage allegedly threatened Rep. Drew Gattine, D-Dist. 34.

"And you also heard a man on a mission, to invoke fear and violence on a sitting representative,” Alfond said. "This is not something that I believe that elected officials can walk away from and say, 'This is just another episode from Governor LePage.'"

Alfond said he hopes LePage steps down. State lawmakers decided Wednesday there would be no special legislative session called to address concerns about the governor.

Under the Maine Freedom of Access Act, LePage does not have to turn over the binder by the deadline, but he must provide an explanation for his refusal to reveal the binder's contents.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - ME