Fire assistance sparks political heat in Augusta

7:11 PM, May 8, 2013   |    comments
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Photo by Anthony Armstrong

AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - The problems caused by the Lewiston fires have reached the Maine Legislature, and are prompting complaints by Republicans that Democrats are "playing politics" with the issue. 

Lewiston's legislative delegation -- which is all Democratic -- sent a letter to Governor Paul LePage on Monday, asking for money from a contingency fund to help fire victims. 

After he toured the fire damage on Tuesday, the Governor told reporters he had no money to give, and suggested the Lewiston delegation should ask House and Senate leaders for money instead. That prompted a press release from Democrats, saying he does have money available. That was followed by a statement from Republicans, accusing Democrats of playing politics with the fires. 

On Wednesday, members of the Lewiston delegation told NEWS CENTER  they were simply "doing their job" and representing the needs of their constituents. 

For his part, Gov. LePage did tell Lewiston city officials on Tuesday to get in touch with him again, once they have a better idea of how much money is needed. The Governor's spokesperson says they might still provide financial help to the city. 

The Governor's office also said that there is a private fund for fire victims, managed by the United Way, which has already collected tens of thousands of dollars in donations so far. Meanwhile, in Augusta, Senator Margaret Craven (D-Lewiston) is submitting an emergency bill to provide some state aid to help families with security deposits for new apartments.


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