Former Gov. Paul LePage denied knowing that he paid as much as $1,100 a night at the luxury Trump International Hotel while on business in Washington, D.C., and described as “fiction” a story in the Maine Sunday Telegram that documented at least $22,000 in Maine taxpayer-funded expenses at the Trump-owned hotel.

During an interview with WGAN radio Monday, LePage said he didn’t know how much the hotel rooms cost, and appeared initially to blame a scheduler for the expense – although later in the interview he took responsibility.

“If we paid $1,100 for a hotel room in one night, shame on me, because I wasn’t aware of it. And shame on me, because I should have been on top of that,” he told hosts Matthew Gagnon and Ken Altshuler.

The former governor was responding to a story in this week’s Maine Sunday Telegram that documented $170,000 in out-of-state travel expenses by LePage and his staff, including $22,000 at the Trump hotel. The information was obtained through Freedom of Access Act requests for travel spending by the governor and his staff and security teams in 2017 and 2018.

The former governor’s office failed to provide detailed travel information while he was in office. The documents were released to the newspaper after Gov. Janet Mills became governor.

According to those documents, over a two-year period LePage and his staff rented more than 40 rooms at the luxury hotel over a dozen visits. Their expenditures are likely to draw scrutiny from attorneys who have cited LePage’s previously disclosed stays at the D.C. hotel in a federal lawsuit alleging the president is profiting from the business.

In late 2017, the attorneys general of Maryland and Washington, D.C., cited a handful of LePage stays in the federal lawsuit. The lawsuit contends that Trump’s financial interest in the business is a blatant violation of the Constitution’s prohibition on “emoluments” – profits or gains received directly or indirectly by the president from foreign, federal or state governments.

During the radio interview, LePage did not dispute the Maine Sunday Telegram story, which he said he had not read because “I don’t read fiction.” He accused the newspaper of bias.

He also said: “I am not aware of ever paying $1,100 for one night at that hotel. I don’t recall ever doing that.” He went on to say that his office received a corporate rate, adding: “I don’t know what the rate was. Believe me, I would have questioned that had I known. I don’t know why it would have been that much, because we had a rate.”

When one of the hosts asked how he made his travel arrangements as governor, LePage responded: “The lady that did it was the scheduler, and what she did is she called around to the hotels to ask what the rates were. And incidentally, rates in Washington change daily. One week you get one rate, the next week you get another rate. And so what we did, is she went around and she went to all the hotels and she got rates.”

The newspaper attempted to interview LePage about his travel before the story was published, and he failed to respond.

Later in the interview on WGAN, LePage said he once “went ballistic on the staff” when he learned about expenses associated with a previous trip, and described himself as “cheap. In fact, I am very cheap with the public’s money. I am far more generous with my own money.”

During the radio interview he confirmed that a trip scheduled for June 2017 to Russia was canceled because he couldn’t get a visa. The trip was planned to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the city of Kotlas, which established a sister city relationship with Waterville when LePage was mayor there. LePage traveled to Kotlas as mayor of Waterville, but couldn’t as governor, he said. “The Russian government would not give me a visa. That’s why we canceled it,” he said.

Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: pphbkeyes


Comments are not available on this story.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.