Maine Gov. Paul LePage is notoriously reluctant to talk to the state's reporters. But on Thursday, he cold-called a journalist who reported a story that caught him by surprise: Maine’s 133rd Engineer Battalion of the National Guard is set to be relocated to Pennsylvania. That news would be of particular interest to LePage, not only for its negative impact on the state, but also because he is also the commander in chief of the Maine Army National Guard. During the short call, the Portland Press Herald reported, LaPage demanded to know the identity of the unnamed source in the paper's report, and then hung up when the reporter refused to disclose it.
The call is extra unusual in part because LaPage has made a big show of specifically disliking the Press Herald and its parent company, MaineToday Media. He barely talks to reporters in the state as a habit. And last summer, as the Columbia Journalism Review reported, a spokesperson for LePage told the Press Herald that the administration would no longer respond to any requests for comment or information from their office. That included distributing LePage's calendar — a public document — to the paper. In order to obtain anything from the office, the paper would have to file Freedom of Information Act requests. The move was more of a stunt than anything else, as it came in response to an investigative report published in the Press Herald that was not flattering to one of the state's departments — and it hasn't been really enforced since then.
So imagine the Press Herald reporter's surprise when this happened. From the report:
The call, which lasted about a minute, started with the governor saying, “This is the commander in chief of the Maine National Guard.”
LePage then said he was surprised by the plan and asked for the source of the information. The reporter declined to give it.
“Well, it didn’t come from the Maine National Guard,” LePage said.
Then he hung up.
Last summer, LePage joked that he wanted to "blow up" the Press Herald's headquarters while sitting in a flight simulator demonstration. And earlier this year, he slammed the paper for sending a reporter to Canada to interview his family — except the paper didn't actually do that.
(h/t Kira Goldenberg)