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Maine's top gambling regulator placed on leave following tweets

Champion was placed on leave after the Portland Press Herald inquired about tweets posted on a page claiming to belong to him.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine’s top gambling law officer has been placed on administrative leave after the Portland Press Herald discovered tweets posted over several recent years that are misogynistic and racist.

The Press Herald unearthed the tweets posted to an account appearing to belong to Gambling Control Unit Executive Director Milton Champion — some of which were still active as of Tuesday afternoon.

In a May 6 tweet that has since been deleted, the account wrote, "While waiting for my truck to be serviced I'm looking for the answer to a recent comment to me stating that the description 'Ladies' meaning more than one female is not professional or appropriate. In this day and age, I guess [expletive] is better."

Another, from May 14, replied to a post about supposed white nationalists marching around Washington, DC. In the reply, the account wrote, "At least they're not burning down cities and looting stores."

In another, which remained active on the account Tuesday afternoon, Champion appeared to share a logo that read, "Biker lives matter. United we roll. We don't kneel. We don't steal." Above the image, the account wrote "How cool is this? I'm one..."

A spokesperson for the Department of Public Safety, which oversees the Gambling Control Unit, confirmed Champion’s paid administrative leave, and that it went into effect on May 17. They would not comment further, citing an ongoing review by the Bureau of Human Resources.

Rep. Laura Supica, a Democrat from Bangor, co-chairs the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, which handles gambling legislation. She thought the move was the right one to make.

“I personally support the decision to have a leave of absence,” Supica said. “I think the comments that were made were sexist and racist, and not representative of our values. So, I think that that was the correct decision to make.”

Maine is at a pivotal point with sports gambling. It has yet to be implemented, but a framework has been in the works, under Champion’s supervision. Just last week, the unit released its latest rules proposals. The Department of Public Safety spokesperson said mobile sports gambling is still on track for a November rollout, as previously stated, and that Deputy Director Matthew Motti would fill in during Champion’s leave of absence. As for this legislative session, Supica said that shouldn’t be an issue.

“I know there’s a lot of questions about how this could leave the state of the department. But a lot of the bills that we will be hearing, especially when it comes to the tribal gaming bills, we’ve already slated those to be carried over to next session,” she said. “So, we have time between now and next session to, kind of, reassess the situation and, if it is warranted, find a new director.”

Penobscot Nation tribal leaders could not be reached for comment Tuesday. This month, a group of tribal nations reached an agreement with Caesars Sportsbook to carry mobile sports betting in the state.

Champion has been in the role for more than six years, being appointed by the LePage administration. Governor Mills’ office declined to comment, citing the ongoing review of Champion’s conduct.

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