Tuesday, March 11, 2014
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William Schneider greets Karen Harrison of Portland before a forum Thursday at Sable Oaks Marriott in South Portland.
John Patriquin/Staff Photographer
THERE'S MORE ONLINE
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER will answer your questions live online at pressherald.com at noon today.
FAMILY: Married (Barbara), one daughter (Julia, 16)
EDUCATION: Graduate of U.S. Military Academy at West Point, 1981, majored in engineering and computer science; law degree from University of Maine, 1993
OCCUPATION: Maine attorney general; owns family alpaca farm; former assistant U.S. attorney; retired U.S. Army captain and Green Beret
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: Maine House of Representatives, 1998-2002; Assistant House Republican leader, 2000-2002; Maine attorney general, 2011-present
ON THE ISSUES
• Do you support President Obama’s health care law? No
• Do you support a balanced budget amendment? Yes
• Would you support a tax increase for the wealthy? No, I support a flatter and fairer tax code
• Would you vote to extend the nation’s debt limit? No, not unless tied to real spending reform
• Do you support legalizing gay marriage? No
• Do you support legal access to abortion? Yes
• What should Congress be doing to create jobs and improve the economy? Congress must undertake regulatory and tax reform, and reduce federal spending. The role of government is to create a regulatory and policy environment that is conducive to job creation – one that once again allows our businesses and entrepreneurs to innovate, invest, grow and succeed. As a senator from Maine, I would also be committed to fighting for Maine’s traditional natural resource-based industries like farming, fishing and forestry
BUSINESS ISSUES: Schneider had an 82 percent pro-business voting record in 2000 and a 94 percent record in 2002, according to Maine Economic Research Institute scorecards.
LABOR ISSUES: Schneider voted pro-labor 10.5 percent of the time, according to the Maine AFL-CIO scorecard.
ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES: Schneider had a 26 percent lifetime environmental voting record, according to the Maine Conservation Voters scorecard.
Bob Harmon, CEO of Norway Savings Bank; Les Otten, businessman and former candidate for governor; Joe Bruno, former House Republican leader; Rep. Dennis Keschl, R-Belgrade
"You take a lot of lessons out of it," he said. "You really learn that no matter how bad it is, somebody's got it worse."
Schneider went to work as a project manager for a global security company before enrolling in the University of Maine School of Law in 1990.
He also bought a farm in Durham with his wife, Barbara, a former West Point cadet. The couple eventually adopted a daughter and started raising alpacas, which they breed and shear as a family business. He continues to shoot and hunt, even traveling to Africa last fall to hunt antelope.
Schneider started his law career as intern prosecutor in the Cumberland County District Attorney's Office.
Anderson, the district attorney, remembers Schneider assuring her that he could navigate around the old county courthouse in a wheelchair, and how she soon forgot that he was disabled. She also remembers his sense of humor.
"I had to ask him how tall he was for an ID badge. He said, 'Six-two lying down,' " Anderson said.
Schneider's ability to put people at ease helped make him an effective prosecutor, Anderson said. "He's just very nice to work with, but also he's very bright and he's very strong. He can hold his ground in a way that is totally non-offensive," she said.
Schneider became an assistant attorney general in Augusta in 1993, prosecuting major drug cases.
He was elected to an open seat in the Maine House of Representatives in 1998, and was chosen assistant House Republican leader at the start of his second two-year term.
"When Bill spoke, people listened," said Bruno, who was the House Republican leader at the time. "He sticks to his principles, but he's not in your face about it."
Schneider was in line to be the Republican House leader, Bruno said, but he left the Legislature after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to serve as the anti-terrorism coordinator in Maine's U.S. Attorney's Office. He worked with law enforcement around the state on preparedness efforts and terrorism-related investigations.
Schneider also served on a national task force that evaluated the threat posed by each detainee at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba. "I learned an awful lot about al-Qaida," Schneider said.
In 2010, Schneider was elected by the Republican-led Legislature to serve as attorney general. One of his first acts was to join a multistate lawsuit against President Obama's Affordable Care Act. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on that case next month.
Earlier this year, Schneider signed on to a letter from several attorneys general objecting to an Obama administration requirement that all employers except churches cover contraception in employees' health insurance plans.
The anti-Obama stands, and increased efforts to crack down on welfare fraud, earned him respect among conservatives.
Democrats, women's advocacy groups and others criticized Schneider for wading into political battles. "Those instances were more about politics than anything else," said House Minority Leader Emily Cain, D-Orono.
Schneider said his stands as attorney general have been driven by the law and the U.S. Constitution. He earned a reputation for independence in 2011 when he issued a strong opinion that one of Gov. LePage's original Cabinet members -- Environmental Protection Commissioner Darryl Brown -- appeared unqualified to serve because of his interest in a land development business. Brown resigned.
Despite the political disagreements over health care, Schneider has worked well with Democrats on issues such as domestic violence, said Cain.
"Generally, I think Bill has a reputation of being fair and thoughtful," she said.
Staff Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 791-6324 or at: