Maine Gov. drops gag order to ask reporter for his source

Portland Press Herald

Maine Gov. Paul LePage called a Portland Press Herald reporter Wednesday to inquire about his source for a report that a National Guard unit may leave Maine.

The call, which lasted about a minute, started with the governor saying, “This is the commander in chief of the Maine National Guard.”

LePage then said he was surprised by the plan and asked for the source of the information. The reporter declined to give it.

“Well, it didn’t come from the Maine National Guard,” LePage said.

Then he hung up.

The phone call represents what appears to be a temporary hold on the gag order LePage issued last year: He told members of his administration to stop talking to the Press Herald and its affiliated papers after a series of critical reports.

Even without the ban, LePage has enjoyed an unusually rich relationship with the Press Herald. Last August he said he was joking after he said he’d like to blow up its building using a fighter plane. Last January he “accused a reporter of going to Canada to track down his ex-wife and children for interviews, despite the fact that the reporter did no such thing,” Dylan Byers reported in Politico.

LePage’s animus is not reserved for the Press Herald. “My greatest fear in the state of Maine: newspapers,” he told a group of schoolchildren last February. It was the third time he’d made similar remarks, The Bangor Daily News reported. After the Bangor paper made a public records request, he tweeted that “If newspapers would like to know who has concealed weapons permits, then they should know the Governor has his.”

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