For Immediate Release
May 24, 2012
Internal emails detail witch hunt at Maine State Housing Authority
LePage official lays out strategy to “boot Dale [McCormick] out”
Portland, ME - Internal LePage Administration emails obtained by Maine's Majority show inappropriate collusion between government officials and the Maine Heritage Policy Center in order to force the resignation of Maine State Housing Authority (MSHA) Director Dale McCormick as part of a political vendetta. Maine's Majority obtained the documents through a Freedom of Access Act request filed in January. McCormick resigned earlier this year after a months-long misinformation and smear campaign spearheaded by Poliquin, MSHA board chair Peter Anastos and MHPC's Maine Wire blog.
In perhaps the most telling email exchange, Department of Economic and Community Development Tax Increment Program director Laura Santini-Smith, a LePage appointee, advises Treasurer Poliquin to take his campaign to national conservative media in order to "help boot Dale out.” She commends Poliquin on his work, saying “you got five or six other agencies to go after ;-).” She then offers to put Poliquin in touch with former State Senator Phil Harriman and MHPC CEO Lance Dutson.
The emails also detail strategy conversations among Anastos, Poliquin and the Maine Heritage Policy Center. In one email, Poliquin suggests that Anastos should take an opinion piece he is writing and “run it by Lance [Dutson]." In another, MHPC employee and Maine Wire blogger Sam Adolphsen sends Poliquin and Anastos MSHA vendor records later used in a baseless attack against McCormick. In a third email, Dutson hints that an MSHA informant is leaking documents to MHPC, and Dutson tells Poliquin and Anastos that he needs an official copy of a certain report “so Dale doesn’t know where her holes are.” Yet another communication shows Dutson asking whether McCormick intends to put out a "Friday afternoon document dump," to which Anastos responds, "I don't know. I suppose I could have called [McCormick] back before 5 (she called about 4:30). Just didn't want to." Several additional emails show similar collaboration among Poliquin, Anastos and Dutson.
Poliquin, Anastos and Dutson indicate a particular disdain for Press Herald columnist Bill Nemitz. In one exchange they strategize about releasing an unidentified video involving Nemitz. Dutson suggests that Poliquin ask for a retraction. Polquin responds, "I love it, but whom/where should the retraction come? I can't recall who should be the target? Strimling, Nemitz, Kesich, McCormick?" In another email, Anastos twice refers to Nemitz using an offensive slur.
Separate exchanges indicate that Poliquin and Anastos used their positions to politicize the MSHA board. An email thread finds Anastos asking conservative activist and McCormick critic Mary Adams for board recommendations. Adams suggests an individual whom she describes as "a Republican," to which Anastos responds, "She sounds perfect, Mary." Poliquin also describes future board member Don Capoldo as coming recommended by “a big GOP Activist and true conservative... Huge [LePage] supporter.” "With this support," Poliquin brags, "the new Administration will have 5 of 9 votes" on the MSHA board."
“These documents prove what many have long suspected: that Maine State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin executed a political hit job against Dale McCormick. It also shows clear and inappropriate coordination with the Maine Heritage Policy Center,” said Maine’s Majority executive director Chris Korzen. “Instead of doing right by the people of Maine, these public servants used their positions to further an ideological agenda and undermine the important work of the Maine State Housing Authority.”
In the coming days, Maine's Majority will be issuing a new round of FOAA requests aimed at uncovering collusion between the Maine Heritage Policy Center and other state agencies.
The entire collection of selected documents is available at http://www.scribd.com/collections/3634006/Poliquin-and-Anastos-FOAA.