Gov. Paul LePage told two Republican lawmakers Monday that he planned to take a 10-day vacation despite the intense budget negotiations and a state government shutdown, but his spokeswoman later said,”No, he is Maine’s chief executive and will not be leaving.”

The spokeswoman, Adrienne Bennett, did not address the contradiction between her emailed response to questions Monday evening and what LePage told Senate President Michael Thibodeau and Sen. Roger Katz. Bennett did not respond Monday to an email asking why the governor told the lawmakers he was leaving, if he actually intended to go or whether he changed his mind about taking a trip.

Earlier in the day, LePage spokesman Peter Steele had denied Twitter reports about the vacation, saying it was “100% fake news.”

Late Monday, Katz reiterated that the governor clearly told him he planned to go on vacation.

“He could not have been more clear that he was leaving tomorrow morning for about 10 days,” Katz said. “There was no nuance and no ambiguity about that.”

Katz and Thibodeau reported Monday morning that LePage called them to advise them that he was leaving the state.

“He called the Senate president and Sen. Katz this morning to say he was leaving the state to go on vacation,” Thibodeau spokeswoman Krysta West said Monday.

West said Thibodeau, R-Winterport, told her about the call.

Katz said he got a “very cordial call” from the governor, who said he was leaving the state Tuesday. Katz said LePage reiterated his position that if the budget stripped out the increase in the lodging tax, he would sign it.

“But he was leaving tomorrow for around 10 days and if we didn’t do that (strip out the hike in the lodging tax), he would not sign it and we would remain shut down for 10 days,” Katz said. “He was polite, but clearly he was resolute.”

LePage told WCSH-TV that his remarks were misinterpreted, and that he was actually referring to his pen vacationing, referring to his refusal to sign any budget that includes a tax increase.

The news that LePage said he was planning to take a vacation during a state budget shutdown was paired with reports out of New Jersey that Gov. Chris Christie and his family visited a beach closed to the public because of a budget-related government shutdown in his state, prompting outrage.

At a news conference Monday afternoon in Augusta, Democratic House Speaker Sara Gideon, who heard about the LePage phone calls to the two lawmakers, criticized the idea of the governor going on vacation.

“I can’t imagine having the responsibility of being elected by all of the people in this state, forcing a shutdown and then threatening to continue to hold us in a shutdown and announcing that ‘I will leave the state.'” Gideon told reporters. “It is the biggest abdication of responsibility that I have ever witnessed, and every person in this state should be absolutely outraged by it.”

Noel K. Gallagher can be contacted at 791-6387 or at:

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