Mal Leary

Maine Public Political Correspondent

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads Maine Public's news coverage of politics and government and is based at the State House.

A lifelong journalist and Maine native, Mal has worked as both a reporter and editor in broadcast and in print, in both Washington, D.C. and in Maine. He has won numerous awards for his reporting on state government issues and politics.

For several years he owned and operated Capitol News Service, which was located in the State House complex providing news coverage to radio stations as well as newspapers.

Mal is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters & Editors and has long been an advocate for open government. He is the SPJ Sunshine Chair in Maine and is currently the president of the National Freedom of Information Coalition based at the University of Missouri Journalism School and is a Vice President of the Maine Freedom of Information Coalition.

Mal is married with three grown children, several grandchildren and lives in Augusta, within sight of the Capitol dome.

Ways to Connect

Lawmakers are still in session as this hour, and will likely be in Augusta into the evening as they take up several tough issues. Maine Public Radio Political Reporter Mal Leary joined Ed Morin from Augusta to discuss today’s session.

It’s been 28 years since the state of Maine agreed in Superior Court to provide adequate mental health services to Mainers. The court master in the case now says that while the state has made progress, it has not yet met its promises.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

Maine's two U.S. senators say they support a proposal to rename the Russell Senate Office Building for Arizona Sen. John McCain, who died on Saturday.  The idea has received support on both sides of the aisle especially because of the history surrounding the man for whom the building is currently named.  But other options to honor McCain are also being discussed.

David Wilson / Flickr/Creative Commons

The Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee spent most of the day Monday hearing testimony on five bills submitted by Gov. Paul LePage aimed at improving the state’s child welfare system.

J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

The U.S. Senate is in session this week, but the House doesn’t return until after Labor Day. Come September they will have to reconcile differences in the dozen bills that will fund the federal government starting Oct. 1. Maine’s congressional delegation says it is hopeful that agreement will be reached, and a shutdown of any part of the federal government will be avoided.

AP Photo

Congress has until the end of September to reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) that has helped fund scores of projects in Maine.

Andrew Harnik / AP Photo

As members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Maine’s Susan Collins and Angus King are among those in the forefront of investigating Russian efforts to influence elections in this country. Both say that these efforts are more extensive and intrusive than many understand, and that trolls are already aiming beyond the 2018 midterms.

The Maine Heritage Policy Center, a conservative think tank, has released a report critical of out-of-state financing of citizen initiatives. Members of the group say they want greater disclosure of initiative financing.

Mal Leary / Maine Public/file

House Republican leaders are considering proposing another round of tax cuts when they return to work next month. But Maine Sen. Susan Collins says she doesn’t think the Senate will take up another tax cut package.

Robert F. Bukaty / AP Photo

Last week the Department of the Interior rescinded a ban on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides in national wildlife refuges. U.S. Representative from Maine Chellie Pingree is opposed to the change, which she says is just one more hit to the environment from the Trump Administration.

AP Photo

The Trump administration is considering proposing new rules that critics say will punish legal immigrants in the United States who are seeking permanent residency.

President Donald Trump has unilaterally imposed sanctions on Iran, ostensibly to get the Iranians to the table to renegotiate the 2015 nuclear agreement.

Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine questions whether the sanctions will work.

“It’s difficult to predict, but I would suggest that if we are doing unilateral sanctions, it would make them less likely to come back to the negotiating table,” she says.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree says the sanctions won’t work and the president was wrong to pull out of the agreement in the first place.

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.

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.”