Discussing the state’s growing opioid addiction problem LePage said, “Guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty … these types of guys. They come from Connecticut and New York; they come up here, they sell their heroin, they go back home. Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing because then we have another issue we have to deal with down the road.”

LePage’s comments drew national and international media attention Thursday and Friday with news organizations, including the British Broadcasting Corp., reporting on the controversy.

On Friday, LePage said he, “slipped up” and apologized for it. “My brain was slower than my mouth,” he said.

LePage said he meant to say “Maine women” and not “white women.” He also said the statement was not meant to indicate the race of the drug dealers he was talking about.

“If I slipped up and used the wrong word, I apologize to all the Maine women,” LePage said.

LePage also said the state’s media wasn’t doing enough to help fight the state’s growing drug problem and that it is largely only interested in a “sound bite.” 

“Now that you are here, though,” LePage said told reporters at his conference, “get your heads out of the sand, please. Help us. Help us. My passion and my desire is to rid ourselves of domestic violence and to get drug dealers off from the street.”

He said the media in Maine should be reporting details on the victims of drug crimes and on those charged with the crimes. 

“The point is you are not helping us with the drug dealers,” LePage said. “You are not helping us to make it a really major issue. You’re more interested in reporting ‘The Legislature and the governor disagree’ – yeah we disagree. I think we are a year and a half late on getting those 10 drug agents. I think we are a year and a half late on spending millions of dollars in the middle schools and the high schools in the state of Maine in trying to educate our children on how bad the drugs are.”

Several reporters challenged LePage’s assertion the media hasn’t reported on the growing opioid drug crisis in Maine. The governor was asked how he could criticize the media’s reporting given that he says he does not read Maine newspapers.

“What have we missed?” Mike Shepherd, a State House reporter with the Bangor Daily News, asked LePage.  

LePage responded, “First of all, I will qualify it because I’m not certain of everything you’ve missed, but I’ve only read two articles that really explained what is happening in society.”

LePage said he got most of his information from briefings he receives from the state police. He also said he had firsthand knowledge of what happens at drug busts and said he had been on a bust with state police two years ago and also went on drug busts as mayor of Waterville.

Meanwhile, a check of the most recent drug trafficking indictments in Androscoggin County showed that of the four indicted, three are white women.

In Cumberland County, where 13 were indicted on drug-trafficking charges in the last month, nine were male and four female, and 12 of the 13 were white.

Maine Senate President Mike Thibodeau, R-Winterport, called LePage’s comments, “inappropriate” in a statement issued Friday.

“Furthermore, they detract from the focus we should have in combating the drug crisis here in Maine,” Thibodeau said.

Also weighing in on LePage’s statements Friday was U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, of the 1st Congressional District. 

Bridgton, the Cumberland County town where LePage made the controversial statement, is in the 1st District. 

“Gov. LePage’s comments were disgraceful and racist,” Pingree said in a prepared statement. “It does not represent the values of Maine people and is embarrassing to our state.”

In Lewiston on Friday, reaction to LePage’s comments were mixed, even among African-American residents.

Anthony Spain, 32, said he and his family moved to Lewiston from Philadelphia in November, but not to sell drugs.

“It’s a good second-chance state,” he said. “It’s a place to build a life. That’s why I’m here, to work and to find opportunity.”

Spain said the governor’s words were discouraging and racist.

“This is 2016, and we still have to go through this stuff,” he said. “I don’t sell drugs. That’s not why I’m here, so why do people have to assume that? And what’s the point of trying to do better if that’s what people think?”

Joseph J. Moore, 65, said LePage may have a point.

“His words were racist, but he wasn’t,” Moore said.

Moore said cities in Maine do have problems with drugs and with poverty and LePage addressed that.

“There are these people, these Snoop Doggy Dogs and Hong Kongs, so he’s right about that,” Moore said. “We end up taking care of them and paying for them. But who’s paying for us? I’m 65 years old and I still have to work because I can’t afford not to. So who’s taking care of me?”

Sun Journal Staff Writer Scott Taylor contributed to this report.

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‘Nobody reacted’ in Bridgton when Paul LePage made ‘white girl’ comment

More ‘impromptu” thinking from Gov. Paul LePage

Ray Richardson: “If you ask me, Governor LePage got it right.


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