AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The Natural Resources Council of Maine, Maine's biggest environmental group, has claimed Governor LePage is running a “smear campaign” against them, and that he has sent harassing letters to some of their donors.
The Governor’s office says the Natural Resources Council is hurting Maine’s economy, and he wants to make sure their donors know it. This fight has actually been growing for several months.
The Governor has been speaking out against the Natural Resources Council at town hall meetings on radio talk shows.
The leader of the NRCM says some donors have been getting personal letters from the Governor this week, highly critical of the environmental group and saying their donations are helping hurt people in rural Maine.
The letter reads, in part, “The job-crushing anti-business policies of NRCM are preventing rural Mainers from getting the kind of jobs they need to raise themselves out of poverty.”
The Governor’s office says they got about 200 names from the NRCM website, had office staff members look up addresses on the internet to send the letters.
The NRCM calls it harassment of the individual donors, and says it was wrong for the Governor to do it with state resources.
NRCM Executive Director Lisa Pohlmann even said the Governor’s tactics were echoes of those used by Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950’s. But LePage’s press secretary Adrienne Bennett said the NRCM has consistently opposed and helped block the Governor’s proposals to help create jobs, such as the controversial bill to allow mineral mining in northern Maine.
Pohlmann also cited NRCM’s support for a solar energy bill that LePage claimed would have increased electric rates, and the group’s support for the national monument.
Bennett said the Governor supports a clean environment, but Pohlmann claimed LePage has been “the most anti-environment Governor” in the organization's 57-year history.
Late Thursday afternoon Maine Democratic Party chairman Phil Bartlett – who is also a board member of the NRCM – sent out a press release calling the letters unethical, and demanding the Governor personally reimburse the state for the cost of the staff time and postage.