LePage, Democrats feud over cameraman

PORTLAND — Maine Gov. Paul LePage canceled a meeting with incoming Democratic legislative leaders Tuesday after asking the state Democratic Party to call off a cameraman who has been recording him at his public events.

The Republican governor said he won't meet with Democratic legislative leaders until the cameraman is removed. LePage said that the so-called "tracker" has followed him for months, but that he hasn't made an issue of it and that it didn't bother him until Veterans Day, when he said a private conversation with an elderly veteran in poor health was taped.

"The people of Maine are not props, and I will not allow these special interest groups to use them to score political points," LePage said in a statement.

The Democratic Party said the use of trackers is commonplace, and that its tracker will continue recording LePage during his public appearances.

"Gov. LePage promised us the most open and transparent government in Maine history and yet here he is, publicly attacking a man for videotaping his events. What does have to hide?" the party said in a statement. "If LePage has a problem with his public events being taped or recorded, maybe he should rethink his role in government."

Democrats regained control of the both the House and Senate in November's elections two years after Republicans swept into power in both chambers. LePage's comments help set the tone for the upcoming session, which formally begins Wednesday with the swearing-in of the new Legislature by the governor.

Democratic leaders said they were disappointed by LePage's decision to cancel his meeting with them to discuss the state's fiscal problems. The state Revenue Forecasting Committee says state revenues are lagging behind estimates by $35.5 million this fiscal year, which ends June 30, and by $128 million during the two-year budget cycle, which starts next July 1.

The Senate Democratic Office said Democratic legislative leaders issued an invitation the day after Election Day and several times thereafter asking LePage to meet with them. But LePage's office didn't respond until Monday to say the governor would meet with them on Tuesday, said Ericka Dodge, spokesman for Senate Democrats.

But while speaking at a Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce event in Rockport on Tuesday morning, LePage told the crowd he was canceling the meeting because of the tracker.

House Majority Leader Seth Berry of Bowdoinham said Mainers are expecting lawmakers to get to work on important issues.

"We can't control the actions of outside groups," he said. "We are ready and willing to meet with the governor."

Political parties have used trackers for years nationwide to follow rival candidates and catch them in missteps that parties can use to their advantage.

Tracking first showed up in Maine in 2007, when Democrats used a tracker to record Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins during her re-election campaign against Democratic challenger Tom Allen. Collins' chief of staff objected, saying tracking demeans the political process and contributes to voter cynicism.

During this fall's U.S. Senate campaign, Republicans employed a tracker to follow independent candidate Angus King, who won the election. King pointed out the tracker during a candidate debate in September, telling the crowd that the tracker was following him everywhere, taking videos and photos.

"I assume he wants to get a picture of me slugging a baby," King said, adding, "I got to tell you, I think it's pretty lousy."

Maine Democratic Party spokeswoman Lizzy Reinholt said that the party has been using a tracker on LePage because the governor has a habit of changing facts and saying inappropriate things, and that his statements need to be documented.

She said LePage hasn't complained before. The governor, she said, appears to be using the tracker for political gamesmanship.

"To me, this is more about the fact he's looking for excuses to not meet with the Democrats," she said. "To make up an excuse like this is pure politics and a sign he's not willing to cooperate."

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Diana Currier's picture


most job ARE watched twenty four seven, all of mine have been, so why not his? Because they would catch him up to no good. Guess he should work WITH the people and not against them, and he may not need the sitter. :) Evidently he didn't learn you get more candy being sweet than sour. Or something like that, LOL

Robert McQueeney's picture

Would you work under similar circumstances?

Here is someone with a camera and microphone, recording everything just to catch him... in something. Would you work under such circumstances? This camera man has been employed by his opponents. Do they truly need to document everything like they are? Aren't there official records that could be used to verify what is being said or not?

If they wanted to make the tracker look a little bit legit, they could try posting the good as well as the bad. Has this tracker footage actually been used to post anything positive, without using it for political gain?

Again, would you work under similar circumstances?

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Try being a truck driver.......

From the little round cardboard disc, in the little machine attached to the engine. That was uses back in the seventies. It tracked every move that truck makes, how fast you drive and when and how long you stopped. Technology has improved to the point that trucks can and are tracked with GPS equipment. If you over sleep. stray to far from your authorized rout, you get a phone call. They even know when you stop to go 10-100. Not to mention the State Police, and various State Commercial Truck Enforcement folks watching every move you make, day or night. I never complained, because I was doing my job properly, I had nothing to hide.
The only difference between the Governor and a working stiff is, If the working stiff screws up he gets fired. If the Governor screws up he gets, ???, I don't know what he gets......

AL PELLETIER's picture

Good points Frank.

How about Wal Mart and every big box store in the country. Cameras are everywhere to not only look for shop lifters but to also monitor the movements and activities of the employees. Can you imagine a Wal Mart employee telling his store manager, "take those cameras out of here or I'll quit". Same same there Gov. so suck it up.

Robert McQueeney's picture

Walmart cameras are not the same as this tracker's camera

This doesn't pass the straight face test. Walmart's camera's a primarily used to counter theft by thieves. They also serve to document criminal behavior. Yes, they are also used to document employee behavior.

The tracker's camera is is used only to try to make a political opponent look bad. We see it everywhere in politics and I'd like to see it done away with. There was a picture of Obama supposedly checking out a woman as she walked by. It was clearly out of context when all the footage was viewed, but it was used to make him look bad. An honest, unretouched photo, out of context... It's just not fair at all to the person being photographed.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

This is an interesting dilemma the Governor finds himself in...

Now the Governor finds himself literally with a microscope focused on every move he makes. The other party, looking for any missteps that he may make.
I think that anyone who finds himself in this predicament, would feel infringed upon. If your the Governor of a state, you should realize, how you react to this situation is more than just important. It is critical to show just what your made of. You will be showing the people who elected you, just who they have put in office.
A Governor who has control of the reigns of his administration, who is on top of the everyday activities of his office, would show himself as a man or woman in control. He would greet the "tracker" and with a smile wish him a nice day, and don't forget to remove the lens cover. Show your confidence and maturity by your actions, in running the state.
Or.... You could kick all the other kids out of the sand box, and hold your breath until everyone plays by your rules. Your the playground bully, and no one can play in your sandbox until they do what you want.
Which of these two scenarios bests describes our Governor? By his very actions, he has given the tracker, ample evidence of who we have elected to office. It's not a question of "if" the tracker will catch the Governor in a Gaff, it's a question of, which one will he use to run with. By the end of the day, he'll no doubt have many to chose from. I'm just curious, just how long can LePage hold his breath???????

Jason Theriault's picture

LePage is pouting

LePage is pouting that he has to compromise.

AL PELLETIER's picture


I wonder if, once again, this story is going to be picked up by the national press corps.
This only goes to show how little it takes to put the State's business on the back burner. Shameful!

Diana Currier's picture

what next?

He IS public and SHOULD have nothing to hide..... what next with this CLOWN?

David Marsters's picture

LePage Cameraman

Why doesn't the governor put on his big boy pants on, and do the job his was voted for. He is making a mochery of our state nation wide.


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