AUGUSTA — Angus King’s campaign heavily edited a newspaper profile of the independent U.S. Senate candidate – removing passages critical of him – before posting it on the campaign’s website Monday.
The King campaign denied that the deletions were selective, saying they were meant only to reduce the length of the article, which was published the day before in the Maine Sunday Telegram.
The campaign published links to the full story, which ran more than 4,000 words, and later removed the altered version at the newspaper’s request.
“I think we took out some of the positive stuff and some of the negative stuff to try and reduce the length of the piece because it was a lengthy piece,” said King spokeswoman Crystal Canney.
The eliminated passages weren’t all critical of King. Some referred to his upbringing in Virginia in the civil rights era and his time as a young lawyer for the poor in western Maine.
But scrubbed from reporter Colin Woodard’s story was a quote from former Portland Press Herald State House reporter Paul Carrier, who said King “could be thin-skinned and controlling behind the scenes.”
A quote from Carrier saying King “made Mainers feel good about being Mainers” was left in the piece.
Carrier, in an email Monday, said “it seems to me that if the King campaign redacted my quote about him being thin-skinned and controlling, it suggests that he’s thin-skinned and controlling.”
A passage in the story from Gordon Weil, an energy consultant and former public advocate who criticized an energy business of King’s, was removed. Weil said the company didn’t benefit ratepayers as much as it benefited King, who has said he sold it for $8 million just before his successful run for governor in 1994.
A quote from Jonathan Reisman, a libertarian-minded economist at the University of Maine at Machias who worked in King’s administration and ran for Congress as a Republican in 1998, also was removed. Reisman said King came into office in 1994 and had immediate success in trimming spending, but “left that behind” after the first half of his first term.
Praise of King from Sandy Maisel, a political science professor at Colby College and a Democrat who has donated to King’s campaign, was left in the version of the article that the campaign posted online, but a passage in which Maisel said “I don’t think his second term held up to his first” was removed.
Jim Melcher, a political science professor at the University of Maine at Farmington, said he saw patterns in the edits, likely to take out things that remind readers that King is from Virginia, not Maine, and to take out pieces of his environmental and business profile.
One passage the King campaign omitted included references to lobbying for the National Resources Council of Maine and the Maine Audubon Society. Another told of his work on the board of W.P. Stewart, then a Bermuda-based investment fund. Financial disclosure forms show he still has tens of thousands of dollars in a company mutual fund.
“He doesn’t want to look like a fat cat working with high financiers who’s out of touch,” Melcher said, “but he doesn’t want to look like someone who is hostile to business either.
“But on the other hand, is this any different from what a movie or book does with its reviews?” Melcher said. “You wouldn’t expect them to include the negative parts, either.”
Drew Brandewie, a spokesman for Republican Senate nominee Charlie Summers, said in a prepared statement that the King campaign was “manipulating” the story “to deceive voters.”
“How can King continue to tell Mainers with a straight face he’s a different type of politician who will change Washington?” Summers said.
Cynthia Dill, the Democratic nominee for the Senate seat, said she thought the King campaign intended to make selective edits.
“The piece as written by Colin Woodard was very interesting to read and very well-written,” Dill said. “I don’t know why the King campaign wouldn’t want readers to have all of the information as presented by one of Maine’s finest reporters.”
The Press Herald/Telegram asked the King campaign to remove the altered article from its website Monday afternoon. The campaign did so within two hours.
Staff Writer Michael Shepherd can be contacted at 621-5632 or at: