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!
That's not what LePage's deputy chief of staff, Kathleen Newman, told the Portland Press Herald a few months ago. "Ann is a trusted adviser and friend to the governor and to our policy team," Newman said Feb. 11. "We appreciate her efforts to date and her commitment to continue to advise and assist the administration going forward as we seek to create clear, reasonable guidelines for businesses to grow and prosper while protecting our precious natural resources."
That's not what Bennett's old boss, communications director Dan Demeritt, told me in early February. "Ann Robinson is still advising the governor on regulatory reform matters," he said.
Indeed, that's not even what Ann Robinson's own web page at Preti Flaherty says today. "Ann served as Co-Chair of Governor Paul LePage's transition team, with specific responsibility for policy and regulatory review, and continues to serve in an advisory capacity," it reads.
Shame on Ms. Bennett for telling such a whopper. And shame on Eric Russell and his editors at the News for letting it go to print unchallenged.
(Cross-posted from World Wide Woodard)