It’s no surprise that the guy who refers to himself as the “Trump before Trump” knows how to grease the Trump family’s palms.
After several months of requesting travel expenses from the now former governor of Maine, Paul LePage, a Republican opponent of social services and a bigot, the Portland Press Herald finally got its hands on receipts, thanks to Freedom of Access Act requests.
The newspaper found that from 2017-2018, LePage and members of his staff and security team spent $22,000 of taxpayer money on 40 rooms at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, and on steak dinners at the swanky BLT Prime restaurant inside the hotel. The Trump Organization, run by President Donald Trump’s sons, owns the hotel and restaurant businesses.
While LePage also stayed at other DC-area hotels during trips to the capital on official state business, the Trump Hotel stays often were timed during trips in which the then-governor either met with Trump or members of his Cabinet.
LePage already was at the center of an emoluments lawsuit filed against the president and the Trump Organization, and the latest revelations could become more evidence in those cases, the newspaper said.
Per the report:
Documents recently obtained by the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram show that the LePage administration paid anywhere from $362 to more than $1,100 a night for rooms at the luxury hotel during trips to meet with President Trump or his inner circle, attend White House events or talk to members of Congress. Receipts from those dozen trips also show the Republican governor or his administration spending hundreds of dollars on filet mignon or other expensive menu items at the restaurant in the Trump hotel. Those expenditures are likely to draw additional scrutiny from attorneys who have cited LePage’s previously disclosed stays at the D.C. hotel in a federal lawsuit alleging the president is improperly profiting from the business.
A worker at the state controller’s office flagged the expenditures because they were so high. According to the report, former Democratic Gov. John Baldacci spent $45,000 over two years on out-of-state travel. LePage, on the other hand, spent a total of $170,000 on out-of-state travel from 2017-2018.
Bear in mind that LePage is the guy who dedicated his governorship to trashing state social services and repeatedly blocking Medicaid expansion, despite the measure being approved by voters in 2017. He also pushed to require food aid recipients to prove that they work 20 hours a week and have no more than $5,000 in assets. He also said that, “Black people, they come up the highway, and they kill Mainers!” and he called state representative Drew Gattine a “little son of a bitch socialist cocksucker” in a voicemail.
Several of LePage’s staffers and advisers later went on to work in the Trump administration. Among them is Mary Mayhew, who was commissioner of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services before becoming the Trump administration’s Medicaid director, a job she held for only three months.
Former LePage health policy and “welfare” adviser David Sorenson was hired as a Trump administration speechwriter until he was forced to resign last year after his ex-wife accused him of running over her foot with a car, putting out a cigarette on her hand, and throwing her against a wall during their marriage, among other allegations.
LePage’s former Chief of Staff John McGough went on to work at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
According to the Press Herald, the $22,000 in taxpayer money that LePage paid the Trump Organization was 13% of the former governor’s total spending on travel.
The attorneys general of Maryland and DC, who filed emoluments lawsuits against Trump, have subpoenaed Maine’s governor’s office and State Police for all documents related to the LePage administration’s spending at the Trump International Hotel and BLT Prime restaurant, the newspaper said.