Governor Condemns Democrats’ Appalling Attempts at Censorship

May 23, 2013

For Immediate Release: Thursday, May 23
Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary (207) 287-2531

AUGUSTA – As the final weeks of the State of Maine 126th Legislature approach, a disturbing trend is underway by Democratic Leadership within the walls of State House. For the second time this week, Democrats have attempted to silence the Governor and violate his right to freedom of speech.

In their latest act of censorship, Democrats have told the Governor that he cannot have a television in the Office of the Governor lobby area, which is on the second floor of the State House. In a letter, Governor Paul R. LePage informed Democratic Leadership today that the television is placed in the reception area of the Governor’s Office. Senate President Justin Alfond today told Governor LePage in a morning meeting that he could not have the television on display.

“The repeated attempts by Democrats to stifle debate on bills and to prevent me from speaking in front of the Appropriations Committee is a disturbing pattern of censorship that should concern all Mainers,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Now they are saying that the Governor of Maine cannot have a TV in the waiting area. Maine Democrats are taking their cue from the Obama Administration in Washington, D.C., which has violated the free-speech rights of American citizens and used the power of the government to silence those who disagree with them. If I have to remove myself from the toxic climate of censorship by Democrats in the State House to defend the taxpayers of Maine, then that’s what I will do.”

The 46-inch Samsung television on a rolling stand does not interfere with any functions or displays in the Hall of Flags. It is not a permanent fixture and does not require any wiring or modifications to walls or outlets. Messages now displayed on screen include a welcome message; the section in the Maine Constitution that guarantees Mainers the right to free speech; and the number of days that have passed since the Governor submitted his proposal for a balanced budget and his plan to pay the hospitals.

“It is silly that Senate President Alfond and Speaker of the House Eves would distract the attention of the Governor and from the important work for the people of Maine to focus on a TV set outside the Governor’s office,” the Governor said. “The TV simply notes the number of days it had been since I introduced my plan to pay off Maine’s massive welfare Medicaid debt.

“Unfortunately the Governor’s office is not the purview of the Governor: the space is controlled by the Legislature,” the Governor said. “Just as I have been meeting with people all over Maine outside the State House about the need to create jobs, lower taxes and fix our debt, I will continue to hold meetings outside the State House where people can feel free to express their opinions without censorship of the Senate President and Speaker of the House. My staff will continue to do their work in their current offices until such time as the partisan leaders of the Legislature choose to evict them.” The Democrats refusal to allow a TV is the latest attempt at censorship. On Sunday they refused to allow Governor LePage to speak with members of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee regarding the Medicaid shortfall the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) faces for the remaining fiscal year which ends on July 1. When Governor LePage did not sign the most recent supplemental budget, he made it clear he could not put his signature on a budget that was not balanced.

These are not the only instances in which the Democrats have tried to silence Republicans during this session. During a legislative work session in the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, the committee’s co-chairman, Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick, cut off Rep. Corey Wilson, R-Augusta, telling Wilson that his time was up, based on a plastic hourglass timer the committee had been using to limit testimony. The bill being discussed would allow employers to prohibit guns in employee vehicles on company grounds.

In a separate and shocking display of procedural bullying, Democrats on the Legislature's Labor, Commerce, Research, and Economic Development Committee pushed through a bill without any discussion before Rep. Lawrence Lockman R-Amherst, could present his amended version of the bill. The action not only prevented discussion of the original bill and its amended version, but ensured that the amended version would not be debated on the House and Senate floors.