AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - It's more than a year until Mainers will elect a new Governor, and the campaign accusations are already flying. The Paul LePage campaign is going after the Mike Michaud campaign for a video posted on the Michaud 2014 website.
Specifically, they're slamming Michaud for changing the video to remove a mistake, without first telling the public a mistake had been made.
The original video included Michaud saying Maine had lost jobs over the past year. But they had to delete that statement this week because it turns out the statement is no longer true. David Farmer of the Michaud Campaign says the statement was based on a statistic published in June by the Pew Center.
The statistic, which originated from the Maine Department of Labor, showed that from April 2012 to April 2013 Maine lost 1,500 jobs. Farmer says the video was recorded in August , before the statistics were revised by the Department of Labor. He says as soon as they learned the numbers had changed they took the statement out of the video.
But the LePage campaign and the Maine Republican Party are accusing Michaud of changing the video "under the cover of darkness", and not admitting the mistake publicly. Brent Littlefield, LePage's political consultant, says Michaud and his campaign should have been able to study the numbers for themselves and see that they had changed before releasing the video. Jason Savage of the Maine GOP cited a news report from 2012, and claims the video incident shows a pattern of Michaud not telling the truth in campaign ads. David Farmer called that claim "ridiculous".
The Maine Department of Labor's Center for Workforce Research and Information, which says it is non-partisan and not politically appointed, says the jobs statistic in question was actually revised several times over the summer, finally in August showing the state gained 200 jobs during that April to April 12 month period. The DOL says it announced the revisions at the time, and that there was news coverage about them. Farmer, from the Michaud campaign, says the Pew Center has not changed its statistics to match the DOL.
Chris Bourdreau of the MDOL says the current job statistics show that in the 18 months from January, 2012 to now, Maine has gained 7,000 jobs. Bourdreau also says he has advised campaigns and other groups over the years to analyze employment statistics over a period of time, and not "cherry pick" a particular moment in time. He says the numbers fluctuate constantly, and can look very different from one month to the next.