AUGUSTA (AP) — A plan by Maine Gov. Paul LePage to hire Miss Maine USA to promote career and technical education in high schools drew fire from the state’s education commissioner who called the notion “nuts” as the state faced a budget gap.

Emails obtained this week by the Kennebec Journal between Jonathan Nass, LePage’s education adviser, and Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen in 2011 show that Bowen was firmly against the proposal to hire Ashley Marble.

Bowen said hiring Marble, who he described as an unqualified “beauty queen,” would risk his and the department’s credibility.

“You guys know I’m a team player and I’m working 80 hours a week to get (a) constantly shifting education agenda put together. No way I’m doing this, though. Absolutely no way,” Bowen wrote in an email.

Bowen apologized to Marble in a written statement on Friday calling the email “uninformed and inappropriate.”

“This email from 2011 was written before I had a full understanding of the qualifications and character of this incredible young Maine leader,” Bowen said.


Marble, now 29, who finished in the top eight in the 2011 Miss USA pageant and is a former University of Southern Maine basketball player, said Friday that LePage never offered her a position.

At the meeting with LePage to discuss education they had “a casual discussion about a potential position that might help kids and students in Maine,” she said, but she never heard anything more.

Nass said in an email on Dec. 16, 2011, that LePage wanted to hire Marble to promote a cultural shift to make career and technical education “cool” while teaching students about the many opportunities in Maine for the trades.

Of course, I have no idea if you have any openings. Maybe there is a frozen position we can ‘thaw’? Obviously, I’ll do whatever you need with (LePage’s budget department or human resources) to make this happen,” Nass wrote.

LePage has been pushing two-year, career-focused education at the state’s community colleges since he ran for governor in 2010. Marble said she agrees with the governor’s goal of endorsing community college as an alternative to four-year universities.

But Bowen wasn’t keen on hiring Marble, calling her a “beauty queen with, from what I can tell, no CTE knowledge or background,” he said.

Comments are no longer available on this story

filed under: