From A.J. Higgins' story on yesterday's Ethics Commission hearing:
Lenardson maintains that Maine Leads is an advocacy group for citizen empowerment to fight for lower taxes. He says he was really trying to model other Democratic-leaning groups such as the Maine People's Alliance which have been successful in Maine.
"My job was, or my mission was, to build capacity," Lenardson said. "It was to be a place where other center-right groups could come together and to work on ideas and advance an agenda, whether it's day-to-day in the Legislature, whether it's working with local mayors in Waterville or Biddeford. It really is just strictly out of envy of how the left has organized."
Sun Journal Opinion Editor Tony Ronzio says Maine Leads has acted as a PAC in pursuing ballot initiatives and should have to disclose its donors and expenditures to the state ethics commission.
This issue first arose in May, when the commission voted to investigate the organization after a complaint was filed by by Deborah Hutton, a former Democratic legislator. The commission will meet on Tuesday to debate the matter and hear testimony from Maine Leads Executive Director (and Floridian) Roy Lenardson. The agenda and documents for that meeting can be viewed here.
Gerald Weinand has more on the issue at Dirigo Blue.
In a public manner, the group behind More Green Now — Maine Leads — does not appear to be led by anyone with credentials to advocate for "green" causes. According to the public database of the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics & Election Practices, it appears that the members of the Board of Directors and staff at Maine Leads have not contributed to environmentalist candidates or PACs. In fact, most of the contributions have been for Republican candidates, party committees, and tax-reduction- PACs. There is also no indication from Maine Leads’ website that it has ever been involved in environmental issues in the past. In fact, there is no explanation as to why it is now backing "tax relief" aimed at "green" cars.
Roy Lenardson insists the lack of information about environmental causes on the Maine Leads site is not indicative of the group’s lacking commitment to excise tax reduction for "green" vehicles. In fact, he views Maine Green Now as a great example of how Maine Leads can work together with environmentalists, such as Pat LaMarche. "Pat LaMarche, who was the Green Party’s Vice Presidential Candidate in 2004, has supported the excise tax reduction bill from the beginning," he explains. Lenardson continues that the term "green" does not belong to anyone. "Unfortunately, there is the current dynamic that 'green' somehow belongs to one side or the other," he continues "but, it does not have to be that way."[...]
He also insists that the partnership with LaMarche will become more public in the weeks to come and shares that my call has reminded him to update the public information offered by Maine Leads. Perhaps with those updates, it will become more clear what exactly is "green" about "Maine Green Now."
Pat LaMarche was contacted for this column, but we were unable to connect before the deadline.
Does this mean the casino campaign was a "green" initiative too?
Floridian Roy Lenardson discusses his organization's new referendum proposals on WLOB:
Websites in favor of the conservative referendums that will be on the ballot in November are now online (even for the one that was thrown out for a lack of valid signatures).
The content of the pro-TABOR site isn't yet accessible, but the excise tax repeal site is up and it's a work of staggering cynicism. Rather than focusing on the excise tax as a funding mechanism for local government, the group promoting the tax cut are instead styling themselves as environmentalists. The site's headline is "More Green Now" and they seem to be focusing their entire message on the portion of the legislation that provides a tax break for buying a new hybrid vehicle. I imagine there might be a few actual environmentalists with something to say about this crass attempt to greenwash these tax cuts.
The site is registered to the More Green Now PAC, which is a creature of Maine Leads, the conservative organization that proposed the referenda in cooperation with the Maine Heritage Policy Center. According to its registration form the PAC is run by Roy Lenardson, Chris Cinquemani and Trevor and Anna Bragdon. Interestingly, the form also reveals that Lenardson, Maine Leads' Executive Director, isn't actually a Maine resident anymore. He lists a home in Florida as his mailing address.
A.J. Higgins takes a look at why Tom Allen lost to Susan Collins in what was otherwise a Democratic year. He speaks with pollster Patrick Murphy, Governor Baldacci, political scientist Mark Brewer and former senate candidate Jean Hay-Bright (I'm not sure why someone who got 20% of the vote in 2006 is giving advice).
In the same vein, Republican operative Roy Lenardson (who jokingly calls himself the "architect behind the failure") recently discussed Republican state senate losses on WLOB:
One is a Taxpayer Bill of Rights, similar to the bill that Maine voters rejected in 2006. The other initiative would reduce the motor vehicle excise tax, which is a major source of revenue at the municipal level.