Breaking News
More () »

Fact-checking claims made during Maine's first gubernatorial debate

We fact-checked several claims made by Gov. Janet Mills and Republican candidate Paul LePage during Tuesday's debate.

LEWISTON, Maine — On Tuesday night, all three candidates for governor were in the same place.

It took Republican Paul LePage very little time before taking jabs at Gov. Janet Mills, including accusing her of giving out "free crack pipes."

"She is now giving crack pipes through a federal program," LePage said.

That federal program provides grant money to local organizations, like Maine Access Point.

In an email, Maine Access Point said it has not yet received these federal funds, but the funding will only be used for wound-care supplies like gauze bandages and antibiotic ointments. 

These organizations do in fact hand out smoking pipes, but they are not paid for by taxpayer funds.

"We pay for all of our safer smoking equipment through grants and other private sources of funding that permit such expenditures," Zoe Brokos from the Church of Safe Injection said in an email.

On immigration, Mills accused LePage of supporting former President Donald Trump's Muslim ban.

"I know that Mr. LePage joined the Trump administration's effort, for instance, ban people of the Muslim faith from coming to states like Maine or anywhere in the country," Mills said.

She is referring to the 2017 ban on people from seven Muslim majority countries, but LePage disagreed and called Mills a "liar."

Mills and LePage clashed on this topic five years ago, when LePage was governor and Mills was Maine's attorney general. The only public record of any comment the former governor made on this topic is in the form of this tweet, saying he fully supports then Trump's order.

Credit: NCM

Mills said LePage raised the state sales tax to 5.5% when he was in office, and he disagreed with this comment, too.

"We did not raise the sales tax when I was governor. It was 5.5%, and it stayed there. We did not broaden it," LePage said.

In 2016, when the sales tax increase was introduced to the legislature, LePage openly opposed the hike. He vetoed the budget that included raising the tax.

It was overridden by the legislature at the time and the sales tax did in fact increase, but LePage opposed it.

You may be wondering why we didn't fact-check independent candidate Sam Hunkler, but he has never been in office, and neither opposing candidate made claims against him. 

Mills and LePage will meet three more times before Election Day, including on Oct. 27 for our NEWS CENTER Maine Voice of the Voter Forum with the Maine Chamber of Commerce.

More NEWS CENTER Maine stories

For the latest breaking news, weather, and traffic alerts, download the NEWS CENTER Maine mobile app.

Before You Leave, Check This Out