1,000 Mainers sign petition to take down ad that lies about Baldacci administration

By Ramona du Houx - April 8th, 2013 

Governor John Baldacci with a former Bangor Hospital administration Sister Norinbega at the agreement signing to start the Pay-as-you-Go system to repay the state's hospital debt. The agreement was bipartisan and is still in effect. The hospitals have been paid $3.7 billion over the past 11 years. Hannah Pingree, the former Speaker of the House is in the background. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Maine’s Majority, a political action group, will deliver more than a 1,000 petition signatures to Gov. LePage and his political front group Maine People Before Politics (MPBP) today calling for an end to a misleading reelection ad campaign. According to the Bangor Daily News, MPBP released the TV ad last week spending nearly $42,000 to air the around the state.

The ad attacks Governor John Baldacci, and his administration, and accuses Democrats of ignoring the state’s debt to Maine hospitals. It also encourages viewers to ask lawmakers to support the hospital repayment plan scheme of Governor LePage’s. “Walking out, Baldacci’s team left hundreds of millions of dollars of welfare debt through unpaid hospital bills, causing layoffs, threatening care for seniors and families,” is how the ad begins its unsubstantiated claims, that can easily be disproved.

“The ad is completely inaccurate; we didn’t walk away from our obligations. No one was ever denied hospital care because of hospital financing during my administration. With overwhelming bipartisan legislative support, we made an agreement with the Maine Hospital Association to pay down the hospital debt,” said Governor John Baldacci.

In fact, Baldacci oversaw $3.7 billion in state and federal Medicaid payments to the hospitals over the past decade. And in 2009, they passed Maine’s new “pay-as-you-go” policy, which balances the books annually and thus prevents any such debt from accumulating in the future.

“This issue is a red herring. It’s diverting attention from the governor’s budget proposal that shifts $400 million to property tax payers by ending reimbursements to communities, cuts aid to education and also incurs teacher retirements and cuts into their pensions that they worked their entire life for,” said Baldacci.”We were able to honor those commitments, while we paid the hospitals, increased teacher pay and never raised taxes. My father always said, ‘if you point a finger at someone three are pointing back at you.’ The governor has a lot to answer for with this budget proposal.”

The ad further misleads by suggesting that LePage alone is working to settle the hospital debt when in fact, Democratic leadership has put forth a plan of its own that pays the debt in full by September of 2013 without taking out a $100 million bond as LePage’s plan does.

Maine People Before Politics, was started by using leftover contributions from LePage’s transition team. While those funds were intended to be used to ensure that governor was able to govern effectively upon taking the oath of office, it’s apparent that the organization its status for political purposes. According to the Secretary of State’s web site MPBP formerly called itself “LePage Transition 2010.”

“This type of partisanship and attack politics might get Gov. LePage’s base excited, but it’s no way to govern,” said Baldacci.

MPBP’s ad asks viewers to sign an online petition of its own. Although MPBP claims thousands support its campaign, only around 500 individuals had signed before the group removed a signature counter from its web site Friday.

Maine’s Majority collected its signatures over a two-and-a-half-day period starting Friday afternoon. It did not run any ads in support of its campaign and spent a total of $12.26 gathering the signatures – all in the form of email list fees.