The Portland Press Herald is objecting to Mary Mayhew’s use of its nameplate on a fake newspaper page promoting her campaign for governor.

At a news conference announcing her candidacy Tuesday, Mayhew used as props large posters made to look like Maine’s three biggest daily newspapers that featured glowing – but fake – headlines.

Sigmund Schutz, an attorney representing the Press Herald, said the use of the newspapers’ logos by her campaign could be a violation of intellectual property law since the campaign neither asked for nor received permission.

The fake Portland Press Herald page used by Mayhew for Maine at Tuesday’s news conference in Lisbon. Staff photo by Scott Thistle

More than that, the realistic-looking front pages with fake headlines could mislead the public, he said.

“By using the newspaper’s name and nameplate, some members of the public may conclude, erroneously, that the paper has authorized its use by your campaign, that its coverage in fact comports with what you displayed to the public, or that the newspaper has endorsed, sponsored, approved of your campaign,” Schutz said in a cease-and-desist letter to the Mayhew campaign asking it not to use the Press Herald’s brand in the future.

Mayhew’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

The posters displayed Tuesday at Dingley Press in Lisbon were made to look like front pages of newspapers and featured the real mastheads of the Lewiston Sun Journal, the Bangor Daily News and the Portland Press Herald. Underneath were fake headlines that read, “Maine Leads in Job Growth,” and “Maine Leads in Small Business,” and “The Maine Success Story.”

Mayhew, the first major Republican candidate to declare for the 2018 race, used the props to tout what she sees as her strengths as a candidate – fiscal discipline, chiefly. They also appeared to be a subtle jab at the media, which has become a common enemy for candidates, Republicans especially.

The former health and human services commissioner under Gov. Paul LePage noted during her news conference that the posters showed the types of headlines Mainers should be reading. That seemed to be a nod to the many critical headlines about the man she hopes to succeed – although Mayhew, who presided over a series of controversial welfare reforms, was often the subject of scrutiny and controversy, too.

It’s common for political campaigns to use news stories or headlines in various literature – mailers, for instance. As long as the proper news outlet is credited, no permission is needed.

But using fake headlines is a different story. In an era when the term “fake news,” is often used to sow distrust of the media, the inclusion of fake headlines under real mastheads is problematic.

“This is a misappropriation of our name and creates confusion for some who might think we are endorsing her campaign,” said Cliff Schechtman, executive editor of the Portland Press Herald.

An editor for the Bangor Daily News did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday about its inclusion in Mayhew’s props.

Judy Meyer, executive editor of the Sun Journal, said the posters didn’t bother her.

“While Mayhew didn’t have permission to use the SJ’s image, we’re tickled that she so clearly supports print media in Maine,” Meyer said. “Reproducing front pages of Maine’s three largest dailies was a very clear statement that Mainers get the best, most accurate information from our newspapers.”

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:

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