LePage: ‘I had to go scream at the top of my lungs about black dealers’

Gov. Paul LePage took to the radio waves again this morning on WVOM to add to what has become a memorable series of Tuesday morning appearances. This time he brought up his now infamous comments about drug dealers and Maine’s white girls, insisting that comments like that are what it takes to make the Legislature accomplish anything.

Here’s what the governor said today on the radio during a discussion about whether there are enough resources in Maine to fight drug addiction:

“I had to go scream at the top of my lungs about black dealers coming in and doing the things that they’re doing to our state. I had to scream about guillotines and those types of things before they were embarrassed into giving us a handful of DEA agents. That is what it takes with this 127th [Legislature]. It takes outrageous comments and outrageous actions to get them off the dime. They just simply don’t move.”

On Jan. 8, two days after LePage made the first white girls comments during a town hall meeting in Bridgton, LePage said he’d committed “many slip-ups.”

“I’m not going to deny or apologize for that” because “that’s who I am,” said LePage, who conceded he should have said “Maine girls” instead of “white girls” to pull that race aspect out of his comments. The “black dealers” comment today could be another situation in which LePage inadvertently used racial terms during an unedited discussion of Maine’s efforts to fight drug abuse, about which he is passionate.

It should be noted here that lawmakers of both parties agreed to LePage’s plan to find funding for 10 new investigators for the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency — weeks before the white girls comment — and that everyone in the Legislature except for one House Republican voted in favor of the measure.

LePage said during this morning’s radio spot that he doesn’t have much hope of accomplishing anything this year that requires legislative approval.

“Everything I’ve ever said to the Legislature is not well accepted,” said LePage. “Let’s put it this way. I was hoping 2015 would be over and done with and we could move on but 2016 started even worse. It’s going to be a long year.”

LePage also blamed Republican Sen. Roger Katz of Augusta for holding up progress on problems such as chronic understaffing at the state-run Riverview Psychiatric Center by holding “kangaroo courts” against LePage in the Legislature. Katz, who last month hosted a public meeting in an effort to find solutions to the problems at Riverview, is Senate chairman of the watchdog Government Oversight Committee, which last year investigated LePage for his role in forcing Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves of North Berwick out of a job at Good Will-Hinckley.

“As long as Roger Katz keeps having kangaroo courts in Augusta, you scare people away,” said LePage. “What the newspapers say and the press that hospital has been getting has been totally, totally over the top … It’s hard to find people to work when number one, you don’t pay them adequately or two, you’re making fun of them in the newspaper.”

On Monday, Court Master Daniel Wathen, the former Maine Supreme Judicial Court justice who oversees the state’s mental health system, filed an order in Kennebec County Superior Court that calls for a range of changes to be made to deal with the staff shortages.

At the end of the interview, LePage was asked about today’s New Hampshire presidential primary and the Republican field of candidates.

“I’m not a big fan of Donald Trump, although he should give me a stipend or give me a bonus for starting this whole thing about being outspoken,” said LePage with a chuckle.


Christopher Cousins

About Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.