December 18, 2012

Statehouse Notebook: Experience plays role in Maine salaries controversy

By Steve Mistler smistler@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Millie MacFarland

Staff File Photo

Apparently, there could be some copyright issues with a title that makes use of "SPAN."

Not that it matters. Using "SPAN" in the name captures the intent of the MPBN channel, but as Vogelzang noted, the acronym, Satellite Public Affairs Network, isn't accurate.

The MPBN channel will be broadcast digitally over the air.

PAC moonlighting

Megan Sanborn, who was the spokeswoman for outgoing Secretary of State Charlie Summers, was paid about $3,600 by four Republican political action committees this election season, according to the most recent campaign finance reports.

Sanborn was paid to coordinate fundraisers and other administrative duties.

It may surprise some to see the assistant of Maine's top election official show up on multiple PAC campaign finance reports. However, there doesn't appear to be any prohibition on such activity.

Part of the reason, according to incoming Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, is that the office is a political office.

The secretary of state is elected by the Legislature for what is considered a partisan position.

Sanborn certainly isn't the first employee of the Secretary of State's Office to engage in political activity. Dunlap said he once had to ask one of his employees to stop participating in voter registration efforts for a Democratic group.

No committee split

Lawmakers are expected to announce assignments to legislative committees this week. Unlike in 2010, it should be a relatively low-key announcement.

Two years ago, the Republican majority was accused of provoking organized labor by merging the Labor Committee with the Business, Research and Economic Development Committee.

Now that Democrats are back in power, there has been speculation that they will disband the merged committee to appease labor groups.

It's not happening.

Some labor groups say the merged committee is overworked and handles widely divergent policy issues. But Jodi Quintero, spokeswoman for House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, said Democrats aren't interested in "turning back the clock."

Familiar faces in reshuffled staff

The change in power has produced a reshuffling of the legislative staff.

With one exception, the faces are fairly familiar.

The biggest change is in House Speaker Mark Eves' office. Eves has hired Ana Hicks as his chief of staff. Hicks was a senior policy analyst for Maine Equal Justice Partners, a low-income advocacy group that's a go-to resource for Democrats on health care and welfare issues.

That Eves chose Hicks as his chief of staff caught some by surprise because she's not from the traditional operative network.

But Eves, who was the lead Democrat on the Health and Human Services Committee, worked closely with Hicks during budget battles that led to Medicaid and welfare cuts.

S. Donald Sussman, majority share owner of the Portland Press Herald, has previously donated to Maine Equal Justice Partners.

Other chiefs:

• Earl Beirman will continue to lead the House Republican staff.

• Kate Simmons, who recently worked as a press contact for U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree's re-election campaign, will head the House Democratic office.

• Chuck Quintero is chief of staff for Senate President Justin Alfond.

• Heather Priest, former House clerk, is the Senate Republican chief.

• Andy Roth Wells is chief for the Senate Democratic office.


Staff Writer Steve Mistler can be contacted at 791-6345 or at:




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