Preti Flaherty lobbyist Ann Robinson has been showing up frequently in my reporting this year. She served as co-chair of Gov. Paul LePage's transition team, compiled his much-maligned "Phase I" regulatory reform agenda, and serves as his key regulatory reform advisor, even as she maintains her day job as a corporate lobbyist. She also serves on the committee that recommends judicial nominees to the governor and -- as expected -- was just nominated to the board of MPBN by the governor.
This past week she's been under additional pressure from Democrats, after my Phoenix story revealed her to be the new state co-chair for the controversial American Legislative Exchange Committee. So, not surprisingly, the Bangor Daily News picked up on the story today, asking if it matters that corporations are writing many of the bills legislators introduce in Augusta.
But halfway down the story is a real shocker. Governor LePage's spokseperson, Adrienne Bennett, told the News that despite "Democrats' claims," Ann Robinson is not an advisor to the governor!
Oh, really? Read more »
The American Legislative Exchange Council is one of the most powerful -- and secretive -- lobbying entities in the country, a channel for corporations to literally write state laws for willing or naive legislators without anyone being any the wiser.
Or at least that was the case until last month, when many of their confidential members-only documents were leaked to the world wide wonderland. Journalists are just starting to dig into the model bills, donor lists, and rolls of participating legislators posted at ALECexposed.org by the Center for Media and Democracy.
But, as I report in tomorrow's Portland Phoenix, a fresh leak has added a new twist for Mainers. It shows that the new state co-chair for Maine is none other than Ann Robinson, the Preti Flaherty superlobbyist and gubernatorial advisor who has been at the center of several stories I've covered this year, including "LePage's Secret Puppeteers" and "The LePage Files."
And for you political insiders out there, here, as a blog-only DVD extra, are the relevant pages from the leaked source document (the agenda of ALEC's August meeting in New Orleans.) [PDF]
(Cross-posted from World Wide Woodard)
Maine Gov. Paul LePage is no fan of the Maine Public Broadcasting Network, which operates Maine's only statewide network of television and radio stations. On the campaign trail he expressed a desire -- on MPBN cameras -- to punch the network's State House correspondent. In office he tried to zero out state funding for the broadcaster.
Now he has his first chance to nominate someone to MPBN's governing board. As I report in the new Portland Phoenix, his first choice is none other than Ann Robinson, the corporate lobbyist who already serves as a trusted advisor and a member of the panel he uses to find judicial nominees.
As readers of this blog well know, Robinson has also overseen the compilation of the governor's regulatory reform agenda -- past and future -- including the cutting-and-pasting of language from industry and corporate memos into the proposals LePage submitted to legislators. That she does this while remaining the registered lobbyist of many interested parties apparently doesn't trouble the governor, whose press secretary has failed to respond to requests for comment on this point.
Robinson isn't alone. Another Preti attorney, Carlisle McLean, serves as LePage's natural resources advisor. Pierce Atwood corporate lobbyist Patricia Aho currently heads the Department of Environmental Protection. But at least McLean and Aho had to give up their day jobs.
(Cross-posted from World Wide Woodard)
My column in the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel today is about the LePage administration breaking its promises of transparency, particularly regarding the influence of out-of-state corporations and their lobbyists on proposed environmental rollbacks. It relies heavily on some great investigative journalism done by Colin Woodard and Susan Sharon.
Since I wrote the column, the LePage administration has announced that Carlisle McLean will be joining their team as Senior Policy Advisor. McLean also worked at the law and lobbying firm Preti Flaherty, where, according to current and past reporting from MPBN, she lobbied for the Toy Industry Association against the ban on the toxic chemical bisphenol A. McLean is not listed as having represented the organization in the state lobbying database.
LePage staffers Dan Demeritt and Dan Billings both emailed me today to push back on some of the examples of apparent dishonesty by the administration. Read more »