Environmental group fights back against Gov. LePage’s harassment

Environmental group fights back against Gov. LePage’s harassment

At a State House press conference today, members and staff of the Natural Resources Council of Maine spoke out against what they called a campaign of smears and harassment by Maine Governor Paul LePage. They provided a list of 14 times the governor has attacked their organization publicly and an angry letter he sent to board members and other supporters of the organization this week.

“Governor LePage is the most anti-environment governor in Maine history. He’s angry because his attacks on Maine’s waters, air, forests, and wildlife have been broadly rejected through bipartisan votes at the State House,” said NRCM Executive Director Lisa Pohlmann. “The steps he’s taking to lash out at a nonprofit organization like NRCM, because we disagree with his misguided agenda, are unprecedented and must stop. The governor should not be using Maine taxpayers’ money for his vendetta against NRCM.”

The group announced that they have filed a freedom of access request to the Governor’s Chief Counsel requesting information about involvement of the governor’s staff and the use of taxpayer funds to research NRCM’s membership and send letters to its members.

“Last week the governor’s office was scouring the Internet for the addresses of NRCM members so he could send them a harassment letter, but next week he could be sending similar letters to members of any organization that disagrees with his policies,” said Pohlmann. “Where does this stop? This tactic harkens back to something that Joseph McCarthy would have done in the 1950s, not a governor of the state of Maine in 2016.”

Over the past two months, the governor has mentioned NRCM by name at least 40 times in more than a dozen speeches, interviews, and town hall meetings—more frequently than any other organization in Maine. In March, LePage created and displayed “Wanted” posters featuring featuring NRCM staff scientist Nick Bennet alongside leaders of the Maine People’s Alliance and the Maine AFL-CIO.

In his recent missive, LePage calls NRCM “job-crushing” and “anti-business” and claims they are “leading the charge to deny life-changing economic opportunity to poverty-stricken people in rural Maine.”

Over the past few years, NRCM has worked against LePage’s attempts to weaken the laws and safeguards that protect Maine’s lakes, waterways, forests, and wildlife. They contend that a healthy environment is foundational to Maine’s economy.

“We have clearly gotten under the governor’s skin. He seems fixated on denying everything that has gone wrong on his watch as governor and deflecting blame away from himself,” said Pohlmann. “NRCM will continue to fight against the governor’s radical anti-environment agenda, confident that we represent the overwhelming view of Maine people who love the nature of Maine.”

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