Maine's Republican Governor, Paul LePage, is scrambling this week to get himself out of an embarrassing political situation that saw him simply forget to veto 19 legislative bills which he vehemently opposed. Either that, or LePage totally misunderstood the constitution of his own state.
One top Democratic Maine legislator believes that LePage may have been distracted by "hanging out" with New Jersey Governor and newly minted Republican presidential hopeful Chris Christie.
The most controversial of the 19 bills, and one which Lepage had railed against repeatedly, would allow undocumented immigrants, under certain conditions, to receive state government benefits.
Whatever the reason, the snafu must rank as one of the most mortifying moments in the career of a politician and far-right Tea Party favorite who once took on Maine's favorite son, mega-bestselling author Stephen King, accusing the famous writer of dodging Maine state taxes by moving out of state to Florida.
King, who maintains a winter home in Florida but lives in Maine the rest of the year, responded by revealing the $1.4 million in Maine taxes he paid last year and demanding an apology from LePage — an "I'm sorry" that never came.
In his latest debacle, LePage may have believed he was using the "pocket veto" to stop the new bills from becoming law — a process which lets the governor effectively kill a bill by simply ignoring it for a period of time once the state legislature has adjourned.
But the Maine State legislature did not adjourn during the period that LePage let the bills sit on his desk, effectively allowing them to become law under Maine's legislative rules.
"It's very clear, as far as the role the governor has, when it comes to bills — whether he signs them, not signs them or vetoes them," said Maine's House Majority leader Jeff McCabe, a Democrat. "To hold them for an arbitrary period of time doesn't really work. He can't rewrite the rules."
Adding to the confusion, when asked about the screw-up by the news site Talking Points Memo, LePage — through a spokesperson — claimed the legislature did, in fact, adjourn.
"We were expecting him to act on these last Thursday when he was hanging out with Chris Christie," McCabe told The Bangor Daily News. "But he seems to have gotten distracted by that."
Maine's Clerk of the House, Robert Hunt, told Talking Points Memo that, as far as he could tell, Governor Paul LePage and the legislators understood the word "adjourn" differently.
[Image: Paul LePage / Facebook]