In LePage's defense, his spokesperson, Adrienne Bennett, noted that the Republican-controlled legislature provided pushback to the lobbyists, even if the governor did not. "It's important to note that this goes through legislative committee and various hands and debate and things were retracted and there was compromise and dialogue," Bennett said. She said she would have to get back to us with a response to the conflict of interest concerns raised by the documents and Robinson's central role in their creation, but did not do so.
Bennett also said that, while the proposals came from the lobbyists, other businesses echoed the same concerns. "Just because one person brought it up doesn't mean that they are the only ones that brought it up," she said. "We were hearing the same sort of feedback from job creators throughout the state.
USM's Schmidt thinks the situation came about in part because of LePage's narrow base of support, having narrowly won a five-way race last November. "The governor is speaking for just one portion of the GOP, and the result is that the base he represents is very narrow, which leads to a cozy relationship with a handful of donors and their lobbying firms," he says, adding it's a high-risk political strategy. "They aren't trying to build support with the majority of the electorate, but to keep a minority really, really happy. It's a dangerous gamble, but maybe they figure the electorate will stay fractured and it will work for them again [in 2014]."
Colin Woodard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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