AUGUSTA — Dan Demeritt, Gov. Paul LePage’s director of communications and legislative affairs, has resigned because of “unresolved business issues” that require his “immediate and direct attention.”

The Kennebec Journal reported this week that Demeritt is facing foreclosure on five residential and commercial properties he owns in the Augusta area, including one  recently destroyed by arson.
Savings Bank of Maine wants judgment by default on property owned by Demeritt, a small-business owner who lives in Sidney.

Demeritt said in a telephone interview Saturday that Gov. Paul LePage supports his decision.
“I had a great talk with the governor, and he understands my challenges and supported my decision to put my full focus on getting things resolved,” Demeritt said. “I have tenants and employees concerned about what comes next.”

On Saturday, Demeritt said he planned to visit with his tenants to “work through things.”
A press release issued Saturday from the governor’s office said LePage and his staff “wish Mr. Demeritt the best with his future endeavors.”

Adrienne Bennett, LePage’s press secretary, said Saturday the resignation was effective immediately and the governor would have no further comment about the resignation or a possible replacement.

“We’re not prepared to release any comment on that,” she said.

House Speaker Robert Nutting, R-Oakland, said he has known Demeritt and his family both as State House colleagues and constituents. Demeritt’s wife, Martha, works in the Office of the Attorney General.

Nutting said the Demeritts “are good people” and that he knows they are more than capable of “dealing with whatever challenges life may throw them.”

“I thank Dan for his service to the state of Maine and hope the best for him and his family,” Nutting said Saturday. “I appreciate the efforts he made to help Gov. LePage get this state back on track and wish him luck in his future endeavors.”

House Minority Leader Emily Cain, D-Orono, said Demeritt has had one of the toughest jobs since day one of the LePage administration.

“We wish his family all the best during this very difficult time,” Cain said.

The bank is seeking default foreclosure judgments against Demeritt in Kennebec County Superior Court on properties at 11 Kinderhook and 23 and 31 Windsor streets in Randolph and a two-family home at 34 North St., Augusta.

Fire destroyed the four-unit building at 23 Windsor St. last week. The Office of the State Fire Marshal determined arson to be the cause. No one has been charged with starting the fire; but one tenant, Andrew J. St. Amand, 33, has been charged with domestic-violence assault in connection with an incident that occurred in the building on the day of the fire.

In a court affadavit, a State Fire Marshall’s Office investigator reported that St. Amand was heard making a threat that day to burn the building.

The bank also has filed foreclosure action to take the 611 Civic Center Drive property in Augusta, where Demeritt operates the Pizza Connection restaurant.

Records at the city assessor’s office show unpaid taxes from two years on that property total $6,217.50. The bank also obtained a default judgment in Augusta District Court last week on equipment at that site.

Besides the back taxes owed to the city of Augusta, he also has liens from unpaid sewer bills on the properties subject to the foreclosure action and faces a lien on property at 11 School St. in Augusta that is not in foreclosure.

Demeritt — a graduate of Colby College who holds a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Southern Maine — links his unpaid taxes, bills and mortgages to business difficulties that began almost 2 1/2 years ago, when he said he leveraged the value of his properties to buy other properties.

 He was forced to close his Bangor Street location after sales dropped off. Demeritt said he never expected a 25 percent drop in pizza sales and that this wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been for one of the worst recessions in decades.

Mechele Cooper — 623-3811, ext. 408
[email protected]