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Maine Gov Suspends Contract with Alexander Group

A.J. Higgins

At an impromptu news conference today, Gov. Paul LePage announced that he has suspended the state's nearly $1 million contract with the Alexander Group for a study of Maine's welfare system, after additional allegations of plagiarism surfaced in the media.

Gov. LePage told reporters he is very upset at additional allegations of plagiarism raised in a story posted on the Portland Press Herald's Web site.

  He says he has already suspended payments to the group after an editorial in the Bangor Daily News pointed out that two full pages of the study were lifted word for word from the work of the Center for Budget Policy and Priorities.

"I am asking the state to purchase some plagiarism software, and we are going to do it ourselves as well," LePage said. Because I don't - number one is trust but verify - Ronald Reagan - see that? I learned that from him. And I really believe that we need to get to the truth."

LePage says he is very upset at the situation, and was particularly concerned to see Gary Alexander, the principal owner of the Alexander Group, providing information to the news media that he has not yet given the state.

"I will tell, you I am very, very unsatisfied. I hear today that he has spoken to the Press Herald and gave them information he has not given us and we were paying the bills," LePage said. "We are not paying them any more. But, we had been the one that hired him, but he is giving information to the press before he gives it to us. That concerns me a great deal."

LePage vowed to take whatever action is needed after an analysis of the reports is completed. He also again defended the state's military commander of the National Guard, Brig. Gen. James Campbell, saying his position on the restructuring of the National Guard has been distorted for political purposes.

He says both Congresswoman Chellie Pingree and Congressman Mike Michaud have asked to meet with Campbell. LePage says if they want to meet on that issue, they should meet with him because he is the commander in chief of the Maine National Guard.