A prominent real estate developer recently told Gov. Paul LePage that his handling of a nomination to the state finance authority reminded him of “the Baldacci days.”

Cape Elizabeth resident Richard McGoldrick used that characterization in Aug. 23 email to LePage and administration officials. McGoldrick also requested that the administration withdraw his nomination to the agency charged with redeveloping the former Brunswick Naval Air Station.

McGoldrick’s missive was triggered by LePage’s failure to reappoint Susan Snowden to the quasi-public finance agency that provides access to low-interest financing to development projects.

LePage, in an Aug. 29 email to staff, acknowledged the error, writing that he previously promised to re-appoint Snowden to the Finance Authority of Maine.

“My error, I knew that big eraser would come in handy,” LePage wrote, referencing the oversized eraser he keeps on his desk for “big mistakes.” “Yes, we need to re-appoint (Snowden).”

The correspondence, obtained through a Freedom of Access Act request by The Portland Press Herald, explains why two of the governor’s more than 70 nominations withdrew before last week’s confirmation hearings at the State House. The emails also shed light on recent protests from a prominent Brunswick official that appointments to the base redevelopment agency, and perhaps others, are based more on politics and favors than expertise.

That complaint, expressed last week by Brunswick Town Council Chairwoman Joanne King, isn’t confined to the LePage administration. However, McGoldrick in his Aug. 23 email to LePage and administration officials, wrote that the governor mishandled the Snowden appointment by not recognizing her expertise or allegiance to conservative ideals.

“Susan has impeccable R (Republican) credentials,” wrote McGoldrick, “has served diligently on the board (as evidenced by her election to the chairmanship). While I believe you have every right to appoint who you want to these positions, you do have a responsibility to use discretion, to appoint the best possible people able and willing to serve … and to treat these people with the respect they deserve.”

McGoldrick later added that he no longer wanted to serve on the redevelopment authority.

“I do not want to be part of an administration that treats dedicated people in the manner in which you handled Ms. Snowden,” McGoldrick concluded.

McGoldrick said Monday that he is no longer upset with the governor. After all, he said, the governor atoned for the mistake when he pulled back Snowden’s replacement, Chris Logan, from the FAME board. Snowden will remain on the board. Administration officials said she’ll be reappointed next year during the next round of nominations.

“I want to make it absolutely clear that I’m very happy with Gov. LePage, the work that he’s doing and that he stood up and acknowledged that there was a mistake,” McGoldrick said in an interview. “It was never his fault.”

Administration officials acknowledge that senior staff erred with the Snowden appointment. However, it’s not entirely clear why her spot on the FAME board was important to McGoldrick, the chief operating officer of Commercial Properties Inc., a Portland-based firm. McGoldrick said he supported Snowden because she had helped de-politicize decisions made by FAME.

The two also served on the FAME board after being appointed by former Gov. Angus King. McGoldrick, in his email to LePage, said Snowden “was carrying on the work that several of us began during the King Administration to de-politicize the FAME operations.”

McGoldrick is also a board member of Bangor Savings Bank and Bangor Savings Foundation. Snowden is a senior vice president at the bank.

According to an email from a senior staffer, LePage promised Bangor Savings President James Conlon that Snowden would be reappointed.

McGoldrick said Monday that his development firm had not worked previously with the finance authority and that it didn’t have any projects under consideration for low-interest loans there.

“I was on the (FAME) board for eight years and I was the former chairman,” he said. “We worked very hard to make it nonpolitical. I think that the LePage administration is going to continue that tradition. It should not be a political agency.”

McGoldrick is a frequent participant in the political process. In 2010, he donated $750 to LePage’s campaign, the maximum allowed at the time. He also gave $1,500 to the Maine Republican Party. Federal records show that he has given to Republican congressional and presidential campaigns. He also has supported independent U.S. Senate candidate Angus King, giving the former governor $5,000 earlier this year.

He later gave $1,000 to state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin. Poliquin, who is on the finance agency board, finished second in the Republican senate primary.

Poliquin received a copy of the email McGoldrick sent to LePage and his staff. According to emails, Poliquin was among those consulted about the Logan nomination, and he and senior staffer John Butera thought that LePage’s “expectations of FAME would be better served by a turnover of existing board members.”

Despite the governor’s efforts to ensure that Snowden remains on the finance authority, McGoldrick said he’s not interested in serving on the base agency. He said he doesn’t have the time.

McGoldrick was nominated to the agency despite a recommendation by Brunswick officials that its redevelopment liaison, Denise Clavette, get the nod. King, the Brunswick council chairwoman, told the Press Herald last week that the LePage administration’s decision to appoint McGoldrick over Clavette factored into a council decision not to ratify a 30-year agreement that would have returned $12 million in property taxes to the redevelopment authority to be used for infrastructure projects and lure businesses to the former Navy base.

Steve Mistler — 791-6345

[email protected]

Twitter: @stevemistler


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.