Political news

It's Thursday, and time again for Across the Aisle, our weekly foray into Maine politics.

This week Cynthia Dill, an attorney who served in the legislature as a Democrat; Dick Woodbury, an economist and former independent lawmaker; and Meredith Strang Burgess of Burgess advertizing and marketing who served in Augusta as a Republican spoke with Keith Shortall.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

Democrats from across the state's 2nd Congressional District gathered in Bangor this Thursday to show united support for state Rep. Jared Golden.

The Lewiston Democrat was declared the district's primary winner under Maine's ranked-choice voting system with 54 percent of the vote, and he will face the two-term Republican incumbent Congressman Bruce Poliquin.

Golden said Poliquin's opposition to Medicaid expansion and his reluctance to engage in public discussions on issues of concern to voters should be a sign that it's time for a change.

A U.S. Senate Committee has unanimously recommended Maine Superior Court Justice Lance Walker  for confirmation to the federal bench.

Walker has served as a Maine Superior Court judge since 2015, and as a state District Court judge before that. At his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this month he was asked to describe the limits on police who stop a suspect they believe may have violated the law.

The group backing Maine's public campaign finance law has sued Gov. Paul LePage for refusing to sign financial orders so that candidates who have qualified for the program can receive campaign funds.

Maine Citizens for Clean Elections filed the lawsuit in Kennebec County Superior Court Thursday morning.

"We don't take an action like this lightly,” said John Brautigam, an attorney for the group. “We feel like it's time for the court to intervene.”

Alexander Zemlianichenko / Associated Press/pool

MOSCOW - The Kremlin and the White House say the summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump will take place in Helsinki on July 16.
The synchronized announcement comes a day after Trump's National Security Adviser John Bolton held talks with Russian officials in Moscow to lay the groundwork for the summit.
Trump said Wednesday that "getting along with Russia and with China and with everybody is a very good thing.'' He said they would discuss Syria, Ukraine and "many other subjects.''

Steven Senne / AP Photo

Late Tuesday night, lawmakers agreed on a bill that will dramatically overhaul the state's medical marijuana program.


For the second time in less than a year, a federal judge has ordered the Trump administration to turn documents related to the work of an advisory commission on election integrity over to Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap.

The commission disbanded in January, shortly after Dunlap filed suit. As a commission appointee, Dunlap said he was denied access to crucial information, including state voting data. A federal judge has now ordered defendants to produce relevant documents by July 18.

Robert F. Bukaty / AP Photo

Update: Maine Citizens For Clean Elections File Suit Against LePage

The State Ethics Commission has crafted a short-term fix to sidestep a political logjam that is keeping public campaign financing from reaching candidates. But the commission, which administers these public funds under the Clean Elections Act, says lawmakers will have to address the larger problem in order to avoid possible legal challenges.

Justice Kennedy Retiring; Trump Gets 2nd Supreme Court Pick

Jun 27, 2018
Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy says he is retiring. That will give President Donald Trump the chance to cement conservative control of the high court.
The 81-year-old Kennedy said Wednesday he is stepping down after more than 30 years on the court. A Republican appointee, he has held the key vote on such high-profile issues as abortion, affirmative action, gay rights, guns, campaign finance and voting rights.

About 100 people gathered on the steps of Portland City Hall Tuesday evening, hours after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Trump administration's travel ban in a 5-4 vote.   

The ban affects mostly majority-Muslim countries.  

Joanna Frankel, of Portland, said about a third of the students in her son's class at school are Muslims, and she's afraid that they will be to forced to leave.  While acknowledging that the ban applies to new arrivals, Frankel says she thinks the travel ban is part of a larger picture.  

Political charges and counter-charges are flying around efforts to preserve the state program that provides public funding for state candidates. The fight over the Maine Clean Elections Act is unlikely to be over anytime soon.

For weeks, Maine lawmakers have known that a drafting error in the state budget passed last year prevents the Maine Ethics Commission from paying its bills and providing payments to candidates under the voter-approved Clean Elections Act.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Some major donors in Maine politics must now disclosure their top five biggest sources of funds under a new disclosure law.

The law applies to those who contribute over $100,000 to political campaigns influencing Maine ballot referendum campaigns.

Such donors must disclose whether they've received funds to influence ballot questions such as citizen referendums or direct initiative campaigns.

Second District Congressperson Bruce Poliquin is warning Veterans Administration Officials and their contractors that they need to fix their electronic medical records system and be held accountable.

“Your job, and you know this better than I do, is to deliver a project that works, on budget and early,” says Poliquin. “And I am going to be one member on the committee that holds you accountable.”

Irwin Gratz / Maine Public

The campaign over a home health care initiative on the November ballot began Tuesday – with its opponents.

Maine Public

The issue of selling government bonds for projects across Maine turned into a spat between Gov. Paul LePage and State Treasurer Terry Hayes Monday.

Governor LePage blocked the bond sale last week, and now the governor and the state treasurer are trading charges over who is responsible for the delay that has upset several contractors with projects underway.