AUGUSTA – It’s common in Augusta or Washington D.C. for politicians to try and take credit for any good results that come from a bill they supported. It’s rather rare, however, for a lawmaker to try and take credit for a law that passed and a fund that was created before they even got there.
But Maine House
Speaker Sara Gideon is taking heat from Republicans across the spectrum this
week after State Treasurer Henry Beck attempted to give her credit for the tax
relief in a written statement.
Gideon’s bipartisan legislation will provide over $30 million in direct relief
to Maine homeowners,” said Beck.
Many Maine media outlets picked up the story and ran with it without, apparently, doing any research into the background of the fund.
the tax relief Gideon was being credited for passing was due to a law passed by
Republicans during the transformative 125th Maine Legislature in
Even worse for Gideon and Beck, most Democrats opposed the bill when it was passed back in 2012. According to the Maine Senate Republican office, when the law originally passed, only three Democrats out of 71 in the Maine House voted in favor of the bill in 2012. Fourteen of fifteen Senate Democrats voted against the bill.
“It is unconscionable that
a State Treasurer whose job is to serve all of the people of Maine should make
such a misleading, partisan statement transferring credit from those who fought
for this tax refund back in 2012 to those who voted against it,” said Senate
Republican Leader Dana Dow.
In a morning interview on
WVOM’s George Hale Ric Tyler Show, Governor Paul LePage deconstructed Beck
and Gideon’s claim, saying that he remembered the bill well and provided the
details, he then went on to point out that Sara Gideon was not even in Augusta
“This was all in our
budget in 2012. It’s a shame they think Maine people are stupid,” said LePage. “But
the fact of the matter is, you know, Republicans truly are the party for the
people and trying to lower taxes.”
LePage then recounted a
series of tax cuts he had proposed which were opposed and killed by Democrats
in subsequent years. In those years, LePage said he couldn’t get any more tax cuts
through the House because of Sara Gideon.
“Sara Gideon does not
believe in lower taxes,” said LePage.
“Republicans enacted this
tax refund in 2012 above the objections of Democrats and spent the past eight
years responsibly managing state government to provide the surpluses that
created the $30 million fund.” said Assistant Senate Republican Leader Jeff
Timberlake. “To now have Speaker Gideon misrepresent the law to try and seize
credit for herself while she is in the midst of a campaign for U.S. Senate is
dishonest and irresponsible.”
Speaker Gideon has been
rarely seen or heard from in matters related to Augusta in recent weeks, but
news of fundraisers across the country where Gideon is attending in order to
build a war chest for her 2020 campaign for U.S. Senate have shown that while
she may not be working much as the Speaker of the House right now, she is definitely
focused on fundraising for her next campaign.
The bill in question was
signed into law by Governor Paul LePage on May 25th, 2012.
Sara Gideon was first sworn into office in the Maine House on December 5, 2012, more than six months after the bill had become law.