In case you missed it, today the Portland Press Herald Editorial Board once again called out Paul LePage for lying to Maine voters, this time for falsely claiming that Governor Mills is using federal funds to distribute “crack pipes.” LePage and his allies have repeatedly used this claim in press conferences, television ads, and on the debate stage—even after being fact checked by Maine Public’s Steve Mistler.
While this is not even the first time in the last week that the Press Herald has called out LePage for lying, the Editorial Board made clear that this particular lie is especially “insidious”:
As observed in a Harm Reduction Journal study published earlier this year, “crack” is a word “loaded with unfortunate connotations of stigma and discrimination” and “driven by media depictions of an urban public health crisis primarily affecting Black communities.”
It suits LePage to promote a vision of drug-ravaged inner cities and ignore the reality of rural towns in deep distress. Across the country and nationally, the use of “crack pipe” at best appeals to the villainizing thinking of the 1980s war on drugs. At worst, it perpetuates a racist trope.
The former governor isn’t singing from a new hymn sheet. In fact, the substance abuse positions of “LePage 1.0” in eight years as governor were far more unconcerned in their racism and directly accused of inflaming tensions. If LePage is taking far more care today, he’s still not taking nearly enough.
The Press Herald also pointed out that LePage’s heartless record on Maine’s opioid epidemic may play into his motivation for lying:
By attempting to deflect from the true nature of the opioid epidemic, LePage may also hope to deflect attention from his hand in worsening the sickening toll it has taken on Maine. Crack cocaine overdoses cannot be helped by administering naloxone, the overdose antidote that LePage blocked at every turn while in office. Last year, 327 lives were saved by the intervention.
In just the last week, LePage has also been called out for lying and misleading by WMTW, Maine Public, the Maine Monitor, and the Bangor Daily News. In response to LePage’s increasingly desperate and dishonest campaign, Maine Democratic Party Chair Drew Gattine released the following statement:
“With less than a month left until the election, Paul LePage has given up any pretense of running an honest campaign. While his blatant lies are a clear sign that his campaign is getting desperate, they are also divisive and dangerous. LePage has previously said that he wants to bring our state together—if he truly believes that, he must stop the lies and honestly campaign on his record, no matter how bad that record might be.”