Gov. Paul LePage Tuesday brushed aside accusations that he tried to pressure unemployment hearing officers to rule more often in favor of employers.
But in doing so the governor made two questionable assertions.
First, LePage said he suspected a lawyer representing other employment lawyers fabricated the accusations against him.
The governor should have been up to date on recent developments.
The original stories in the Sun Journal relied upon accounts from several anonymous employees who said they feared losing their jobs if they spoke out. They said they felt abused, harassed and bullied during a meeting attended by the governor and one of his political appointees.
Several days later, the statements were confirmed by emails exchanged by employees and their supervisors, names included, revealed by the Portland Press Herald.
Second, the governor challenged the employees to step forward, "because anonymous letters in my book go in the trash can."
Again, the accusations were no longer anonymous when the governor spoke, and had not been for nearly a week. The emails show other employees were saying the same things as those quoted in the Sun Journal.
But the governor forgot that he often relies on anonymous sources himself.
His speeches and statements are often based upon anonymous anecdotal observations and complaints he says he receives from others.
The stories usually confirm the governor's position on an issue, and the governor often provides no sources. Perhaps listeners should take those statements by the governor and immediately trash them.
Last year the governor said Maine students were "looked down upon" by colleges across the country because they were so poorly prepared for college-level work. No source was cited, although the governor's spokesperson explained that the governor travels a lot and talks to a lot of people.
In checking with college admissions people from around the country, the Sun Journal found they had no idea what the governor was talking about. Maine students were no less prepared than students from other states and no more likely to need remedial help in college, they told us.
Two years ago, the governor created a national controversy when he abruptly ordered labor murals removed from the lobby of the Department of Labor office building in Augusta.
It took two years for the murals to finally resurface in a display at the Maine State Museum in Augusta.
And how was the governor originally alerted to this problem?
"LePage said he received an anonymous letter from a businessman who compared the mural to North Korean propaganda," according to a story in the Kennebec Journal.
What, an anonymous letter? The governor just said those go "in the trash can."
The only pattern in the governor's statements and actions is that anonymous sources are not to be believed — unless their information can bolster the governor's arguments.
Or, perhaps, they are only credible if the anonymous complaint comes from an employer.
We don't like using anonymous sources for news stories any more than the governor likes hearing from them. But we sometimes find exceptions are necessary.
Like when revealing a source's identity would put them in danger, including danger of losing their jobs.
Or in sexual crimes when revealing a victim's identity would cause them undue exposure and embarrassment.
We have never experienced an administration where ordinary bureaucrats and technocrats are so frightened to speak to the press, even on uncontroversial issues.
Perhaps this is because of the us-them mentality of an administration that believes state employees are an enemy force to be vanquished. It was, after all, the governor who pronounced all of the state's middle managers "corrupt."
Or, perhaps, this is like any large organization, where the attitudes and tactics of the person on top eventually seep down through the ranks.
In recent decades, effective management theory has focused on the ability of executives to communicate new visions and persuade employees to follow.
Successful companies go out of their way to create environments where employees feel valued, motivated from within and share the company's goals.
The governor's style with the Legislature and state employees — management by threat and edict — is an unfortunate relic of another era.
The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.