Maine’s know-nothing Teapublican governor, Paul LePage, who endorsed Donald Trump for president and dreams of a post in a Trump administration is in hot water for what seems like the millionth time over his recent remarks about race.
At a Wednesday night town hall meeting in North Berwick, LePage revisited a notion he had advanced before — that Maine’s drug problem is caused by drug dealers of color who come to the state from New York and Connecticut. His comments came in response to a question from a New York businessman who asked about locating a business in Maine.
Andrew Ritchie, who identifies himself as an entrepreneur and a former Maine resident, asks the governor this question:
“Given the rhetoric you put out there about people of color in Maine, calling them drug dealers et cetera, how can I bring a company here given the toxic environment you create?”
Ritchie goes on to explain that on the governor’s Facebook page, a lot of the comments seem to come from people who have issues with race. LePage bristles and tells Ritchie that he doesn’t make those sorts of comments. Ritchie repeats that he is talking about the comments on the governor’s posts. “It seems like you are creating an environment where people feel comfortable with that (racist comments),” Ritchie observes.
LePage, in a reply eerily reminiscent of Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women” remark, tells Ritchie that he keeps a notebook of photos of those arrested for drug offenses in the state.
“Let me tell you this, explain to you, I made the comment that black people are trafficking in our state, now ever since I said that comment I’ve been collecting every single drug dealer who has been arrested in our state. Sir, you are welcome to come look at them.
“I don’t ask them to come to Maine and sell their poison, but they come and I will tell you that 90-plus percent of those pictures in my book, and it’s a three-ringed binder, are black and Hispanic people from Waterbury, Conn., the Bronx and Brooklyn.”
When Ritchie suggests to LePage that Maine police could be profiling (which is a reasonable assumption, given that Maine is one of the whitest states in the nation), LePage pivots,”There are a whole lot of white girls, too, a whole lot of white girls,” he says. “In fact, in almost every single picture is a white Maine girl in the picture.”
Those comments echo a controversy LePage started at the beginning of the year, when he said this:
“These are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty – these types of guys – they come from Connecticut and New York, they come up here, they sell their heroin, they go back home. Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing because then we have another issue we have to deal with down the road.”
Rachel Healy, communications director for the Maine chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, responded to LePage in a comment that suggests she also believes police may be racially profiling blacks and Hispanics.
“White people are statistically more likely to sell drugs than black people, yet according to the governor, police in Maine are nine times more likely to arrest black people for doing so. We don’t know what’s behind this disparity, but we look forward to working with the governor to end any unconstitutional racial profiling that may be occurring.”
But LePage, in his response to Ritchie, wanted everyone to know that he is not a racist. He said:
“I have helped many, many families, in fact, I even brought a black person into my family. Nobody wants to give you the real story, but the fact of the matter is, sir, I am not a racist.”
Well, there you have it, straight from the horse’s ass’s mouth. Paul LePage is not a racist. But he sure sounds like one.
You can hear the exchange between Ritchie and LePage here. (Note: The Portland Press Herald story says the exchange takes place 51 minutes into the conversation. It actually starts at just past 1:01:00 into the recording.)
Featured image via Maine Department of Education/Flickr