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PORTLAND, Maine - An attorney says Maine Republican Gov. Paul LePage's administration will release more than $1 million in public campaign funding that the governor held up by refusing to sign routine financial orders.
 
Maine Citizens for Clean Elections attorney John Brautigam said the administration agreed to do so Monday. A superior court judge ruled on Aug. 2 that the state should release budgeted public funds to qualifying candidates, even if the governor hasn't given his approval.
 

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine Gov. Paul LePage says Massachusetts authorities are using "shakedown'' tactics to collect tolls.
 
The Portland Press Herald reports LePage sent a letter to Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker last month detailing claims about Massachusetts's electronic toll system, EZDriveMA. Drivers who don't have an E-Z Pass are mailed bills by the state.
 

Will Hoar is one of two independents seeking the 2nd Congressional District seat held by Republican Bruce Poliquin. The 35-year-old special education teacher from Southwest Harbor plans a somewhat unconventional campaign.

Hoar says he is just starting to do some of the things he needs to do as a candidate — such as being interviewed by reporters. He says a couple of related issues drove him to run for Congress. Hoar says health care is a major issue for Mainers, as it is in his family. His wife has a chronic health condition.

J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

Maine U.S. Sen. Susan Collins is co-sponsoring legislation that would prevent President Trump from taking the United States out of NATO without Senate approval.

“It would remove the ability of the president to unilaterally withdraw us from NATO," Collins says. "It says there would have to be a two-thirds vote of the Senate.”

Collins, a Republican, says members of NATO are staunch allies of the United States and President Trump should realize the United States is stronger because of the alliance.

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Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap says his review of documents released from the now-disbanded Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity show the Republican-dominated panel was determined to endorse claims of widespread voter fraud without any supporting evidence.

AP Photo

Gov. Paul LePage says that he has not decided what his next step will be after a Maine Superior Court justice ordered the release of about $1.4 million in Clean Elections funds before next Tuesday.

“I am going to take the weekend and think about what we are going to do,” says LePage. “We got several options, and we are looking at different options.”

Maine Gov. Paul LePage accused the state employee's union of trying to take credit for reforms proposed for the child protection system following the deaths of two children.

The Republican governor's comments came during his weekly radio address, two days after he said he was listening and responding to concerns about staffing raised by Department of Health and Human Services caseworkers. The Portland Press Herald reports LePage accused the Maine State Employees Association of talking to the media without bringing their concerns to him.

Associated Press

A Superior Court judge has ruled that the Maine Ethics Commission can distribute public campaign funds to Clean Elections candidates, even without the approval of Gov. Paul LePage, who will likely appeal the decision. The outcome of the case could have broad political ramifications.

In his decision, Justice William Stokes focused on the unique nature of the Clean Elections system and how it is funded. The usual state financial procedures, he ruled, do not apply, and the state Ethics Commission has authority over public financing of elections.

Themba Hadebe / AP Photo

Democratic candidates for the Maine State Senate say that their campaigns have received a boost from former President Barack Obama.

Included in Obama’s first wave of endorsements Wednesday, issued via Twitter, were Louis Luchini of Ellsworth; Linda Sanborn of Gorham and Laura Fortman, of Nobleboro. Two of the candidates say they were completely surprised by the endorsement.

Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP Photo

It’s one thing to sanction Russia or other nations for attempting to interfere in democratic elections. But how do you educate the American electorate to recognize misinformation spread on social media? 

The progressive group, Maine People's Alliance, has released its annual scorecard ranking lawmakers.

MPA Legislative Director Taryn Hallweaver says this year's report also includes what is being called a "will of the voters" score.

Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine says the recent discovery of new Facebook campaigns to influence elections in November are about more than voting in the fall.

In an appearance on CNN Wednesday morning, he said the posts are part of a concerted effort to undermine the American system of government.

“They’re taking the strengths of our country — free expression, First Amendment and a democratic system where opinion matters, information matters — and they’re turning it on us,” he says.

J Scott Applewhite / AP Photo

The Treasury Department has decided to not require donor information from certain nonprofit organizations that seek to influence elections. Sen. Angus King is co-sponsoring a bill that would reverse that decision and go further.

“The prior law was that you had to report who the donors were to the Treasury Department, but they weren’t made public,” King says. “The bill that Sen. Jon Tester and I have would say they not only have to report to the IRS, they have to make it public.”

Friends of Acadia

For years, Maine has been part of a regional effort to reduce ozone pollution in the air that exacerbates asthma and has been linked to other health problems. Now, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection wants to adopt less stringent standards and move most of Maine out of the Ozone Transport Region.

New numbers on the Maine state budget are out. Officials say revenues were above estimates, and state agencies did not spend all that was appropriated to them, yielding a surplus of nearly $176 million for 2018.

Finance Commissioner Alec Porteous says higher-than-projected revenue from the state’s income tax and sales tax and unspent balances in various state accounts of nearly $17 million resulted in the surplus. Budget law allocates the surplus.

“Mainly, it’s 80 percent to the budget stabilization fund, and 20 percent reserved for tax relief,” says Porteous.

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