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Photo: Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons license 2.0

Former Maine Gov. Paul LePage, who spent most of his two terms in office railing against the poors, who were lazy and just loved living it up on the taxpayer's dime, spent assloads of state money on stays in Donald Trump's Washington DC hotel in the last two years of his term, according to a story published yesterday by the Portland Press Herald. LePage and his staffers went to DC fairly often, and sometimes stayed at other hotels while there, but when the hard-working fiscal conservative was meeting with Trump or with Cabinet members, he tended to stay at the Trump International Hotel. In about a dozen visits, LePage and/or staff spent about $22,000 at the hotel, paying room rates that varied from $362 to over $1,100 per night and ordering some very spendy meals. Remember, this is the guy who worried the poors might use their EBT cards to buy too much fancy baloney and fought Medicaid expansion even after voters passed an initiative demanding it.

Oh, yeah, and while the paper had been requesting LePage's travel records since 2017, they weren't actually released until after Captain Conservative left office this year.


As it turns out, the more than 2,000 pages of records, obtained under Maine's Freedom of Access Act, show a bean counter in the state controller's office worried about the governor's bigass travel bills and asked a superior for advice on what to do:

"The reason I am asking is because the Governor and some of his staff are staying in Washington, D.C. pretty frequently at the Trump International Hotel and the room cost is WAY more than the allowed amount," the worker wrote to Deputy Controller Shirley Browne in June 2017, following a particularly costly month. "He is not attending a conference of any type but is meeting with the President, testifying, meeting with lawmakers and others, etc. so the normal exemptions (to state spending limits) do not apply."

And how much higher is the "allowed amount" for Maine officials? According to state guidelines, the approved room rates for visits to DC at the time would have been "between $182 and about $250 a night, with an exception to exceed that by 10 percent." LePage and his staff routinely spent more, because you gotta stay at the Trump International if you're meeting with the "president." It's only polite, right?

Not that getting the documents was easy, because Paul LePage and his administration were hating on the media long before Donald Trump took that to a national level.

The newspaper submitted its initial request for the public records in March 2017 – amid a flurry of trips by LePage to the nation's capital – and obtained a portion of the records for his security detail from the Department of Public Safety in June 2017.

But the former governor's office failed to provide detailed travel records for LePage and his staff despite repeated requests from the newspaper over the course of 18 months. It was not until after LePage had left office – and Democratic Gov. Janet Mills was sworn in – that documents originally requested in March 2017 and subsequently were finally provided to the Press Herald.

As the records show, LePage and his staff sure seemed to have a nice time when they went to DC.

The costliest trip occurred in late April to early May 2017, when the governor, two staffers and two Maine State Police officers assigned to protect LePage incurred $6,534.72 in expenses at the Trump hotel over three days. A former LePage staffer reimbursed the state $925 for his rooms a year later, although the repayment appears to have been voluntary.

LePage and his crew had gone to DC to testify before Congress against the creation of a national monument in Maine, because that would just waste money on nature. He had previously lobbied Trump personally on the issue. While in town, LePage et al. had also talked to members of Congress about health care "reform" (ie, gutting Obamacare) and visited with Rick Perry, who by that point in early 2017 may not have yet learned that he wasn't actually secretary of oil wells. Back at the hotel, says the paper, the team had a fine old time -- and they certainly ate well whenever they dropped by the Trump International:

In addition to more than $5,600 for 12 rooms over the three days – averaging $473 per night – the state also picked up a $362.50 tab for dinner for six at BLT Prime, the restaurant within Trump International. Although the group paid their approximately $130 bar bill separately, Maine taxpayers paid for a $53 filet mignon, a $57 surf & turf, a $55 New York strip steak and a $45 veal chop plus side dishes (at $13 each).

Records show Maine taxpayers also picked up dinner tabs at BLT Prime for $325 in February 2018, $317.30 last September and multiple breakfast or lunch bills exceeding $100.

First, what the hell kind of restaurant is "BLT Prime"? A BLT is not classy. It does not use any "prime" cuts of meat. Also, let's remember this is a guy who imposed work requirements on food stamp recipients, moved to kick them off their benefits if they had too many nice things, and shifted funding from programs for poor kids to a Christian group telling teenagers not to fuck.

LePage also vetoed a bill that would allow pharmacists to dispense the anti-overdose drug naloxone because it would just encourage bad habits. As LePage wrote in a statement with the veto, "Naloxone does not truly save lives; it merely extends them until the next overdose," so doesn't it make more sense to make sure death remains a deterrent to drug use? Strangely, he seemed OK with the filet mignon and surf 'n' turf risks to his staff's arteries.

In addition to being just generally outrageous and hypocritical, LePage's big spending at the Trump hotel is also among several points of contention in one of the lawsuits over possible violations of the Emoluments Clause. In addition to the ban on presidents taking dirty foreign money, states are also supposed to be prohibited from enriching the president. LePage's visits to the Trump hotel were among the reasons the federal judge in that case cited for allowing the suit to go forward:

"Leaving aside how Maine's citizens may have felt about the propriety of their Governor living large at the Hotel while on official business in Washington, the fact that States, other than Maryland or the District of Columbia (while, not a State) might patronize the Hotel while on official business rather clearly suggests that Maryland and the District of Columbia may very well feel themselves obliged, i.e., coerced, to patronize the Hotel in order to help them obtain federal favors," U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte wrote last March.

LePage thought that was just silly, of course, because Donald Trump is a very rich man who could certainly not be swayed by some piddling room rentals. He called the judge "an imbecile" for the very idea that he "could buy the president so cheap." And then, the Press Herald notes, "A month later, LePage and his staff spent nearly $4,500 at Trump International while in Washington for events at the White House."

Good Christ, these people. Oh yeah, and one of LePage's staffers, Mary Mayhew, who used to run Maine's Department of Health and Human Services, got herself a plum job with the Trump administration, where she now runs the federal Medicaid program. The one that's been granting all sorts of fun state waivers to impose "work requirements" that drive people off benefits -- that one. This is cute:

Mayhew, an ardent LePage supporter who played a key role in implementing his policies on food stamps and welfare reform – such as requiring food stamp recipients, who get an average benefit of $109 a month in Maine, to work, volunteer or go to school – traveled to Washington to meet with Trump officials. While Mayhew did not appear to stay at Trump International during that trip, she and her dinner companions spent $500 at the Capital Grill – a high-end restaurant located between the Capitol and White House – on filet mignon, lobster macaroni and cheese and other dishes.

Well hey, she didn't stay at the Trump Trash Palace, so why is she even in the story, huh? So unfair.

[Portland Press Herald / Photo: Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons License 2.0]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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