Former Maine Governor Paul LePage spent up to $1,100 per night in stays at Donald Trump's hotels, racking up more than $22,000 in taxpayer charges at businesses owned by the president's family as he reportedly sought to curry Trump's favor.
The Press Herald on Sunday published the results of a months-long investigation into LePage's spending, pushing through considerable resistance from LePage's administration to find just how much his administration spent at Trump's hotels. As the report noted, the governor paid for more than 40 rooms at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., during a two-year period after Trump took office.
The report noted that LePage and other state officials met with Trump, attended White House events, and talked to members of Congress during the trips to Washington.
They lived large while staying at Trump's hotels, the report found.
"Receipts from those dozen trips also show the Republican governor or his administration spending hundreds of dollars on filet mignon or other expensive menu items at the restaurant in the Trump hotel," the report noted. "Those expenditures are likely to draw additional scrutiny from attorneys who have cited LePage's previously disclosed stays at the D.C. hotel in a federal lawsuit alleging the president is improperly profiting from the business."
The report found that spending at Trump hotels was so high, an employee in the state controller's office flagged the purchases and sought guidance on state regulations to find out whether it was appropriate. The employee wrote to Deputy Controller Shirley Browne after a series of big costs in June 2017, noting that the "room cost is WAY more than the amount allowed."
"[LePage] is not attending a conference of any type but is meeting with the President, testifying, meeting with lawmakers and others, etc. so the normal exemptions (to state spending limits) do not apply," the employee warned.The newspaper had been seeking information about LePage's funding for months, but were rebuffed by his administration. Paul LePage was a frequently polarizing figure, known for making racially divisive statements and resisting the will of voters, including speaking out against ranked choice voting that was implemented after voters approved the new election law.
This year, after Democratic state Rep. Jared Golden defeated Republican Congressman Bruce Poliquin in the states 2nd District, Paul LePage wrote on Golden's certificate of election the words "stolen election" and then posted a photo of it on Twitter.
"I've signed off on the CD2 election result as it's no longer in federal court. Ranked Choice Voting didn't result in a true majority as promised – simply a plurality measured differently. It didn't keep big money out of politics & didn't result in a more civil election #mepolitics," Paul LePage wrote (via the Press Herald.)