AUGUSTA — The chairman of the board of directors at Good Will-Hinckley stressed Friday that “political biases had no impact” on the decisions to hire House Speaker Mark Eves or to withdraw the job offer after Gov. Paul LePage intervened in the process.

Instead, Jack Moore said the prospect of lost state and private funding made the decision to break the contract with Eves “black and white.”

“While the Good Will-Hinckley Board of Directors is made up of people from both political parties, all of the board’s work has been apolitical and each of its two votes in this matter have been unanimous,” Moore said in a statement released Friday morning. “Each Good Will-Hinckley Board member is a fiduciary with clear, paramount responsibility for acting in the school’s best financial interest. Political biases had no impact on either vote.

“As fiduciaries faced with the loss of state and significant private funding, the very real financial consequences for the school made the Board’s decision last Wednesday black and white.”

Moore’s statement came two days after the board rescinded its offer to Eves, D-North Berwick, to serve as president of the school for at-risk youth. Eves has said he was told by board members that LePage – a Republican who has clashed with Eves – threatened to withhold $530,000 in state funding unless the board reconsidered its job offer to the House speaker because of Eves’ past criticisms of charter schools.

A nonprofit institution, Good Will-Hinckley operates the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences in Fairfield – the first of five charter schools approved in Maine since 2011 – along with other educational and social services programs.


Good Will-Hinckley had an enrollment of 36 students this year, and enrollment at the academy was 76 students.

Moore’s statement followed numerous news reports about growing controversy involving LePage and was released less than an hour after the Maine Republican Party issued a statement supporting LePage and asking whether there were other reasons for the school’s actions that have not been made public.

Maine Republican Party Chairman Rick Bennett suggested that Eves landed the $120,000-a-year job at Good Will-Hinckley because of “political patronage,” echoing statements from LePage – who called Eves’ appointment a “back-room deal between cronies” – and some of the governor’s ardent supporters.

“The governor is right to draw attention to an unfortunate reality in Maine governance,” Bennett said. “When they reach the end of their terms, too many powerful legislative leaders seem to end up in well-paid sinecures funded by the taxpayers. This is a problem that has existed prior to the question on Speaker Eves.”

In his statement, Moore noted that Good Will-Hinckley hired Eves to fill the president’s post after conducting a national search overseen by the interim president, Rich Abramson. The search committee reviewed 19 applicants from Maine and several other states – including Massachusetts and Arizona – and conducted phone interviews with the top six.

The top three candidates were brought to campus to meet with students, parents and staff, and two finalists met with board members at both Good Will-Hinckley and the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences, although only Good Will-Hinckley board members were allowed to vote on the final selection.


The school declined to offer further information about the applicants.

LePage and his supporters have noted that Eves’ special assistant for budget and policy, Bill Brown, serves as chairman of the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences, while Democratic Rep. Erik Jorgensen of Portland serves on the Good Will-Hinckley board. However, both men recused themselves from any involvement in Eves’ application, according to Good Will-Hinckley officials.

Moore, meanwhile, recently was nominated by LePage to serve on the board of trustees of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, which was established by the Legislature to manage and encourage reuse of the former Brunswick Naval Air Station property. Moore, of Yarmouth, is chief investment officer at the financial firm Harpswell Capital Advisors.

But LePage withdrew Moore’s nomination to the Legislature along with the names of 20 nominees to other boards or commissions on June 5 after lawmakers briefly held up his choice to fill one of the three seats on the Maine Public Utilities Commission. Members of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority board are not compensated for their service but can be reimbursed for expenses.


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