Augusta, MAINE – Rules that would allow for the over-the-counter sale of the life-saving, anti-overdose drug naloxone continue to be unnecessarily held up by the Chair of the Maine Board of Pharmacy, Joe Bruno – a strong supporter and financial backer of Republican Governor Paul LePage and Republican gubernatorial candidate Shawn Moody, public records reveal. His slow-rolling of the rules and financial ties to the Republicans raise questions about his motivations for not approving the rules at a time when Mainers are dying from drug overdoses at a rate of one person a day.
Bruno – who has donated thousands of dollars to Governor LePage’s and Shawn Moody’s campaigns and also currently serves as Moody’s campaign treasurer – has the statutory authority to approve the rules but has repeatedly refused to do so. Instead, he has insisted that Governor LePage must sign-off on them, an assertion that the Attorney General of Maine has said is not true. Bruno has also refused to answer questions surrounding his failure to approve the rules.
Meanwhile, Governor LePage’s opposition to easing access to naloxone has been well-documented, and Shawn Moody is the only Republican gubernatorial candidate who has refused to answer whether or not he would act on the rules if elected governor. Bruno has donated thousands of dollars to support Governor LePage’s past campaigns, and he recently donated the maximum amount to Shawn Moody’s campaign, on which he serves as treasurer.
Maine Democratic Party Chairman Phil Bartlett issued the following statement:
“Mr. Bruno has the ability to move these rules forward and help save peoples’ lives. Why he has refused to do so is something only he can answer. But when he won’t explain the motivation behind his decision, and when he continually and wrongly says the Governor must approve these rules, it’s not unreasonable to arrive at the conclusion that Mr. Bruno is putting his political allegiance to Governor LePage and Shawn Moody ahead of the interests of Maine people.
“Now Mr. Bruno can easily prove that’s not the case by either immediately approving these rules or by providing a real, substantial explanation for why he’s not. Absent those, Maine people are left to wonder if Mr. Bruno considers politics more important than saving lives. We certainly hope not, and we also hope that Shawn Moody will step up and urge his campaign treasurer to do the right thing.”
According to contribution records maintained by the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices, Bruno donated $750 to Paul LePage’s 2010 campaign for governor. Between 2013 and 2014, Bruno donated a total of $2,750 to LePage’s reelection campaign. In 2017, Bruno donated $3,200 to Shawn Moody’s campaign. He also serves as the treasurer of Moody’s campaign.
Today, Democratic Speaker of the House Sara Gideon and Senate Democratic Leader Troy Jackson sent a letter to Mr. Bruno and the rest of the Board of Pharmacy urging him to take action on the rules. Maine State lawmakers approved making naloxone available without a prescription in April 2016, and overrode, on a bipartisan basis, a veto by the Governor, in which he said naloxone “does not truly save lives; it merely extends them until the next overdose.”