Bangor Daily News article says Eves was told by Maine Ethics Commission that once hired, he should recuse himself from deliberations on funding, but Eves continued behind closed doors for 6 days
AUGUSTA – The Bangor Daily News is reporting that Speaker of the House Mark Eves was told by the Maine Ethics Commission that once hired by Good Will-Hinckley,he should consider recusing himself from deliberations.
Eves' hiring was announced on June 9, 2015.
Eves continued in closed door meetings on the state budget through June 15, 2015, according to media accounts of the negotiations.
The Good Will-Hinckley school is funded both via GPA and the miscellaneous costs portion of the state budget.
GPA funding was one of the key pieces of the budget Speaker Eves, Senate Minority Leader Justin Alfond and Democrats trumpeted as Democrat victories in the budget negotiations.
It is unclear how Speaker Eves could have followed the Maine Ethics Commission's guidance on recusing himself while continuing behind closed doors negotiations on the funding, and then declaring he had successfully negotiated the funding he was advised to recuse himself from negotiating.
Eves hiring announced on June 9, 2015:
Budget deal Eves helped craft behind closed doors announced on June 15, 2015:
Bangor Daily News reports Eves was told he should recuse himself once hired:
Members of the press,
If you are planning to continue covering the Speaker Mark Eves / Good Will-Hinckley controversy, we have a few questions that should be asked of the Speaker, the GWH Board, and Speaker Eves' political employees and subordinates who are connected to the legislature and GWH.
- QUESTION: Is it an appropriate use of power, as a matter of personal ethics, for Speaker Eves to seek a high paying job from Good Will-Hinckley, which is funded through the state budget, during the same time period Speaker Eves' holds power over the state budget and funding for the school?
- QUESTION: How can Speaker Eves negotiate, on one side of the ledger, funding levels for GWH through the state budget, and at the same time negotiate a salary for himself from the same entity?
- QUESTION: Is it EVEN POSSIBLE for GWH and Speaker Eves to negotiate "in good faith" when Speaker Eves is, at the same exact time, holding power over government funding of GWH and negotiating a salary from GWH?
- QUESTION: By the very nature of this situation, wouldn't GWH be in a compromised situation, and potentially facing unreasonable pressure, explicit or implicit, to comply with the wishes of the Speaker and his allies?
- QUESTION: What happens if GWH, who Speaker Eves is seeking employment from (and has a record of years of hostility toward), declines to hire him?
- QUESTION: Will Speaker Eves release all communications and documents relating to his interviews, negotiations, hiring and dismissal by Good Will-Hinckley in advance of any investigation?
- QUESTION: Below are some segments from the GWH President job description that was provided in the job posting:
“Experience working with legislators, state policy makers, and governmental agencies. (required)”
“Fulfillment and advancement of the mission of GWH/MeANS and its programs Oversight of educational programs; operations; finance; and admissions Forming productive partnerships with private and public interests and agencies Development/Advancement, fund raising, and communications efforts”
If the role of GWH President requires the GWH President, who is a compensated employee, to work with legislators, state policy makers and governmental agencies and to work on development, fundraising and communications efforts, this would appear to fit the description of compensated lobbying.
But, in 2013, the Legislature passed, and Governor LePage signed into law a reform requiring legislators to observe a one-year cooling off period before beginning a new position as a compensated lobbyist.
How does Speaker Eves explain this apparent conflict, which goes beyond personal ethics, to a possible conflict with existing law?
As this situation continues to play out through the press, your readers will be seeking answers to these critical questions.
AUGUSTA – Maine Republican Party Chairman Rick Bennett today released the following statement regarding the dismissal of Speaker of the House Mark Eves as the President from the Goodwill Hinckley School:
“The Governor is right to draw attention to an unfortunate reality in Maine governance. When they reach the end of their terms, too many powerful legislative leaders seem to end up in well-paid sinecures funded by the taxpayers. This is a problem that has existed prior to the question on Speaker Eves.
“A brief look at recent history in Augusta shows numerous Democrats landing well-paid positions with little qualification to do the job. Even our Constitutional Officer positions (Attorney General, Secretary of State, and State Treasurer) have become soft landing places for Democrat politicians.
“Systems of accountability are compromised seriously when friendships put niceties over results. There seems to be an expectation among Democrats that this is business as usual and it should not even be questioned. I disagree. I believe such practices should always be questioned.
“As government gets bigger and more powerful, the revolving door becomes an ever-greater problem. Republicans need to stand up and fight political patronage and insist Maine tax dollars be spent responsibly at every turn. Speaker Eves is no exception.”
MAINE GOP RAISES ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS
Concerns of Quid Pro Quo
Following are some additional items that have received little coverage by the news media thus far in this controversy:
Bill Brown is employed by Speaker Eves as his Special Assistant for Budget and Policy in the State House. http://legislature.maine.gov/house/staffspk.htm
At the same time he serves as Chairman of the Board of the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences at Good Will-Hinckley. http://www.means-gwh.org/AboutUs/MeANSBoardofDirectors.aspx
Meaning of the word “discretionary” lost on Democrats and press
The funding in question is spent at the discretion of the Governor. The Governor is well within his legal limits to withhold funding if he feels the money should not be spent. Speaker Eves' track record in opposing charter schools and managing fiscal matters in legislative policy certainly raise serious concerns about how this funding will be spent.
Eves and Democrats hack away at discretionary charter school funding, yet Eves still wants his paycheck. (But non-citizen welfare in Portland will still get paid)
Mark Eves and Democrats successfully pushed to cut $5.5 million from the 'Miscellaneous Costs' portion of the state education budget. This is a pool of funds that is spent at the discretion of the LePage Administration. It is also where the $530,000 in funding for Good Will-Hinckley that is often discussed by the press is paid from.
In an apparent rush to satisfy public school interests, Speaker Eves and Democrats hacked away $5.5 million from this fund, and moved those funds into GPA.
This resulted in some districts being able to pull back some of their local education funds and fill the gap with additional state funds.
In Portland, the additional $1.8 million in state funds that Eves and Democrats got by raiding the charter school discretionary fund is now going to be spent funding general assistance welfare for non-citizens.
It is unclear if Speaker Eves is even aware that the $5.5 million cut he made to the 'Miscellaneous Costs' is where a significant portion of Good Will-Hinckley's funding comes from.
How could the leaders at Good Will-Hinckley reconcile holding on to a school President who has opposed the very existence of their schools for years and just recently raided the fund that supports their school?
Eves & Democrats being allowed to misplace responsibility, GWH simply says they want to remain 'apolitical'
Questions remain about the full reasoning behind Good Will-Hinckley's ultimate decision, but, given Good Will-Hinckley's statement expressing a desire to remain 'apolitical', the funding issue alone is not a simple open-and-shut explanation.
Other questions should be asked of the situation surrounding Eves hiring and dismissal:
As many of you know now, our Chairman Rick Bennett trained for months to run in the Black Bear Marathon.
On Father's Day, Rick finished the marathon with a time of 3 Hours 33 Minutes and 29 Seconds, which was an 8:08 minute per mile pace. He finished 21st out of 100 runners.
Congratulations to Chairman Bennett!
Thanks to financial support from over 200 individual donors, Chairman Bennett ran the marathon for more than $1,100 per mile to benefit the Maine GOP!!
On Friday, Maine GOP Chairman Rick Bennett and I traveled to Washington County to meet with Morril Worcester and attend the Washington County Republican Committee meeting.
Morril Worcester is the founder of the Wreathes Across America and the Worcester Wreathe Company. He gave us a personal tour of the Wreathes Across America museum in Columbia Falls, Maine.
It was an amazing experience to see his passion for veterans and the sacrifices they made for our country. There's a story for every piece in the museum and I was struck by how many veterans donated their belongings to the museum. Morril told us they have to turn away belongings, because they get so many requests.
If you get a chance, check out their museum. You won't be disappointed.
To learn more about Wreathes Across America, click here.
In the evening, Chairman Bennett spoke at the Washington County Republican Committee meeting in Machias at the Bluebird Family Ranch Restaurant about the party's current activities, our plans for 2016, and much more.
The county committee unveiled their "10,10,10" plan to rebuild town committees and engage more Republicans across Washington County.
It was a fun day and it's great to see so many Republicans getting involved at the local level.
If you're looking to get involved, please send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maine GOP Political Director
Shutting down the government is the Maine Democrat Party's last, best hope to salvage their political aspirations for 2016.
We've had enough.
Imagine being Governor Paul LePage, Senate President Mike Thibodeau, or Republican House Leader Ken Fredette.
They were re-elected on a promise to reduce taxes, fix welfare, and make government accountable to the people of Maine. They were excited to get to work.
Then they got to Augusta, and hit a brick wall with Democrats.
NO to income tax cuts. Democrats put on a dog-and-pony show suggesting they will, but they're just trying to muddy the waters on the budget, and suddenly, their plan is off the table.
NO to welfare reform. Democrats say they support welfare reform until it's time to vote, then they carefully kill off reform attempts while attacking Republicans.
NO to accountable government. Democrats say they are listening to the people of their districts, but they're not. They won't even take a position on a bill unless they have the blessing of their special interest donors.
And now, we have the state budget, and the threat of a government shutdown coming from the Democrats.
Yes. That's right. Democrats are the “sources” pushing all the talk of a government shutdown in Augusta.
Why, you ask? It's simple, really.
They lost big in the 2014 election.
They are losing big the public debate on tax cuts, welfare reform and spending priorities.
They face losing big in the 2016 election cycle, with an uninspiring candidate for President, no accomplishments, and a legacy of failure Republicans have been working to fix.
If Democrats are to hold onto any kind of power and control in the state of Maine, shutting down the government and blaming Republicans is their only hope. But they won't win the blame game if Maine people know what Republicans are fighting for.
So, here is what you need to know. We are standing on Republican principles.
Cut taxes, reform welfare, and prioritize spending.
In the Maine Legislature, Republicans are standing strong on the issues that voters trusted us on in 2014. We're not wavering.
Democrats are insisting that welfare benefits be paid to non-citizens who are not eligible for any federal funding... but they don't want to fund services for disabled Maine people who have been stuck on waiting lists that date back to the Baldacci Administration.
Democrats want to make sure we fund methadone clinics, and pay for travel expenses for people to get their methadone... but they ignore the 90-year old Maine husband or wife who might not see their spouse anymore because Democrats would not provide funding to keep their local nursing home open.
These are the priorities of Maine Democrats in the Legislature.
Non-citizens get funding ahead of disabled Mainers. Methadone clinics get funding ahead of nursing homes.
And tax cuts? Well, let's just put it this way:
In 2011, Maine's top income tax rate was 8.5%, and we faced an $800 million budget shortfall. If you earned $20,000 per year, you faced that top tax rate, as if you were “rich”.
Governor LePage and Republicans cut taxes, and closed that shortfall. Now, more than ever before, revenue is coming in to state government.
But that top income tax bracket, the one that Democrats attack as being “for the rich”, still affects people earning under $21,000 per year. And Democrats are making the excuse that they won't cut the income tax because lowering that top rate is a 'tax break for the rich'!
Do you think $20,899 per year is rich?
Democrats apparently do, and they want to keep taxing and punishing working Mainers with higher rates. http://taxfoundation.org/article/state-individual-income-tax-rates-and-brackets-2015
Please, right now, tell Democrat Leadership that Maine needs a budget with income tax cuts, welfare reform, and support for disabled Mainers on waiting lists and nursing homes ahead of non-citizen welfare and methadone clinics.
Call Speaker Mark Eves' office right now at (207) 287-1300.
And, please forward this email to your friends. Let them know what is happening in Augusta, and ask them to speak out, just like you.
All the best,
P.S. Again this morning, Democrat Leaders are pushing talk of a shutdown in the press, while Republican leaders are working to get a deal done for Maine. Don't let the Democrats win this battle. Stand with us, and call (207) 287-1300 to tell Speaker Eves enough games!
Fearing another ballot box defeat, Democrats disenfranchise
hard-working Maine taxpayers
AUGUSTA – Maine GOP Chairman Rick Bennett released the following statement in reaction to Maine House Democrats voting against a referendum to allow the Maine people to vote on eliminating Maine's income tax.
“Today, the Maine Democratic Party looked the hard-working people of Maine in the eyes and denied them a voice and a choice on one of the biggest issues of the day – how they will be taxed,” said Chairman Bennett.
“This is remarkably disappointing,” continued Mr. Bennett. “Hard-working Maine people foot the bill for these lawmakers' choices, but Democrats don't respect voters enough to allow them a voice in a statewide referendum.”
“I believe that Democrats realize their position is so wrong on this issue that they fear the Maine people will rebuke them at the ballot box, just as they rebuked the stale, failed Democrat message in the 2014 elections,” said Mr. Bennett. “By fighting to continue the stranglehold of this unpopular and oppressive tax, Democrats are demonstrating that they view Maine people as a cash-cow to fund the choices of Augusta politicians, not as honest, hard-working people who deserve their say on how their tax money is raised and spent.”
Chairman Bennett concluded by reminding Democrats that this issue will be decided by voters eventually. “There will be a day of reckoning. This vote shows clearly how out of step Democrats in the Legislature are with Maine taxpayers, and they will learn from Maine voters that such a position is indefensible,” said Mr. Bennett.