Gov. Paul LePage is showing no sign that he plans to release his grip on Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves.

The governor used his weekly radio address to once more go after Eves for accepting a job as head of Good Will-Hinckley, a private school in Fairfield that operates one of the state’s charter schools and other programs.

Although Eves was hired, the board of directors for Good Will-Hinckley later rescinded its offer after LePage threatened to withhold state funding from the school.

Eves has accused the governor of blackmail and is considering legal action. The Legislature’s Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability is looking into whether LePage’s actions constituted an abuse of power.

LePage, though, remains undeterred.

In his radio address, to be broadcast this weekend, he hammered home his main criticism of Eves and his almost-appointment as Good Will-Hinckley’s president – that Eves has been one of the biggest opponents of charter schools in Maine.

“Regardless of his efforts to close charter schools, he wanted a cushy job at a charter school that paid $150,000 in salary and benefits,” LePage said of Eves. “The media is bending over backward to defend Eves, but Mainers see it for what it is. It’s a political hack-o-rama at its worst.”

LePage also pointed out, as others have, that Eves does not have the same educational background as prior presidents of Good Will-Hinckley.

Eves was selected by the Good Will-Hinckley board of directors last month after a 9-month national search. Board members cited his clinical and administrative experience in the field of behavioral health and his policy and leadership experience.

Eves’ spokeswoman, Jodi Quintero, called the radio address another example of the governor’s office “using taxpayer resources for the politics of personal destruction.”

“The governor’s threat against Good Will-Hinckley and Speaker Eves was an abuse of power and taxpayer dollars. Now the governor’s office is working overtime to rewrite history,” she said Wednesday. “He freely admits that he made the threat and now he is trying to wrongly justify his actions.”

Maine Democratic Party Chairman Phil Bartlett said of the governor’s address that if LePage wants to target abuse and cronyism, “He should start by looking at his own administration.”

In a statement, Maine Democrats cited the governor’s hiring of his daughter, Lauren LePage, and his brother-in-law, Jody Ledoux, to his administration as evidence of cronyism and nepotism. It also highlighted the governor’s appointment of Tom Desjardin as acting education commissioner. Desjardin has little background in education, the same criticism LePage has made of Eves.

LePage closed his radio address by saying that he doesn’t regret speaking his mind about Eves, even if it means a lawsuit.

“If Speaker Eves or anyone else wants to sue me in hopes of a big pay day, that’s their right,” he said. “I will not get a big pay day for my efforts. But I will sleep well at night, knowing I did the right thing for the Maine people.”


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