AUGUSTA – Republican Gov. Paul LePage said he was concerned about accusations of plagiarism by the controversial Alexander Group and would take immediate action against the company, if warranted, after getting a full report of the facts.

LePage said in an interview Friday that payments had already been suspended to the Alexander Group on Wednesday, after the Bangor Daily News reported sections of the group’s latest report had been lifted, verbatim, without proper attribution.

The Alexander Group was awarded a $925,000 sole-source contract last year to study the state’s welfare system and make recommendations toward its improvement. The state has paid more than $500,000 to the Rhode Island-based consulting group for its work to date.

On Friday afternoon, Mike Tipping — spokesman for the liberal activist group Maine People’s Alliance and columnist for the BDN and the Portland Press Herald — reported in a column published by the Portland newspaper that there were even more instances of plagiarism than originally reported.

Tipping cited original research conducted by a professor and plagiarism expert at Dalhousie University, who ran the report through anti-plagiarism software.

“I will take every action we can. I am not happy about this,” LePage told reporters Friday. “I’m saying I will withhold part to all of what’s left over, and maybe go back after what we paid. It’s all a matter of the extent of what the damage is.”


After the first round of plagiarism accusations, the consulting firm’s chief, Gary Alexander, said the error was one of scale: The report did cite the source of the material at one point, but failed to indicate that the following two pages all originated in someone else’s work.

But on Friday, Tipping said that in some cases, there was no attribution at all.

“This is true of portions of the reports copied wholesale from policy papers published by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Commonwealth Fund and the University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School of Public Service, as well as text taken from a number of Maine government documents,” Tipping wrote.

LePage said Friday that he intended to speak with the professor, and promised “severe” penalties against the Alexander Group if the accusations are true, including the possibility of canceling the contract altogether. He also said he intends to have the state purchase plagiarism detection software, and run its own analysis of Alexander’s work.

LePage also stressed that he was upset that Alexander had communicated with a reporter from the Portland Press Herald about the latest plagiarism accusations without contacting the state to inform them that another round of concerns had been raised.

Pressure has been mounting on LePage to cancel the contract in recent weeks, including a petition being circulated by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud, which according to his campaign had collected nearly 3,000 signatures as of Thursday afternoon.


However, controversy over the contract goes back much further: From the time the contract was announced last fall, Democrats and advocates for welfare recipients said Alexander’s outfit was a partisan consultant, meant not to provide an objective analysis, but campaign fodder for the governor.

The group’s first report — a feasibility study on Medicaid expansion — was panned by Democrats and others inside and out of Maine, who said it contained errors that skewed its analysis by tens of millions of dollars, and took an unrealistic view of the impact Medicaid expansion would have.

Democrats in the Legislature later passed a bill that would have canceled the contract altogether, though LePage vetoed the bill.

On Friday, the governor said that while he had defended Alexander in the past, he’s now concerned about the quality of the report.

“I don’t mind being held accountable for things that I do,” he said. “That contract, I did approve it. I did veto the Democrats’ effort to kill the contract. At that point in time, I had no reason to believe that they weren’t going to do a high-quality job. I’m under the understanding now that they may (not) have.”

Alexander Group — Baseline Welfare Analysis ME

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