Maine Gov. Paul LePage moved out of his office at the State House and plans to work out of the governor’s mansion due to a dispute over a television he placed outside of his office.
Placed in a doorway of a reception area, which is under the control of legislative leadership, the TV repeats the same message over and over again. LePage wants lawmakers to address his proposed $6.3 billion state budget and repayment plan for a $484 million debt to state hospitals A.S.A.P.
“What the holdup?” the message says, noting the number of days since he last proposed a budget and the number of days since the proposal of a payment plant for hospitals.
"I asked them 'Can we have a TV outside the door?' They said no,” LePage explained why he was leaving. “They have to be inside the office. So we're not going to do that."
Sen. Justin Alfond said it doesn’t matter what the TV message says, it simply is not allowed to be there.
"Every person who has walked through this institution has followed the rules,” he said. “This governor has decided he doesn't want to play by the rules."
The space outside LePage’s office belongs to the legislature, said the executive director of the Legislative Council, David Boulter. Without permission of the bi-partisan council, the TV cannot remain there.
“There’s a long history of decorum in public areas,” said Boulter, who is an unelected, nonpartisan official.
LePage said that removing the TV violates his first amendment right to free speech.
"It's not a TV situation. It's a first amendment situation. I don't care about TVs, but I do care that Democrats are trying to stifle the voices of the Maine people,” he said.
"Ask the Democrats if they're going to continue censoring his freedom of speech," said LePage’s spokeswoman, Adrienne Bennett.