Mal Leary

MPBN’s Political Correspondent

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads MPBN's news coverage of politics and government and is based at the State House.

A lifelong journalist and Maine native, Mal has worked as both a reporter and editor in broadcast and in print, in both Washington, D.C. and in Maine. He has won numerous awards for his reporting on state government issues and politics.

For several years he owned and operated Capitol News Service, which was located in the State House complex providing news coverage to radio stations as well as newspapers.

Mal is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters & Editors and has long been an advocate for open government. He is the SPJ Sunshine Chair in Maine and is currently the president of the National Freedom of Information Coalition based at the University Of Missouri Journalism School and is a Vice President of the Maine Freedom of Information Coalition.

Mal is married with three grown children, several grandchildren and lives in Augusta, within sight of the Capitol dome.

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Mal Leary / MPBN

Governor Paul LePage today issued an apology to the people of Maine for a threatening and obscenity-laden voicemail he left for a Democratic lawmaker. But LePage also defended his right to be angry for assertions that he
is racist and dismissed calls for his resignation. The drama that unfolded today has been building for months.

Mal Leary / MPBN

Last January Governor Paul LePage created a firestorm of controversy when he talked about black drug dealers coming to Maine to sell their product, and impregnating white girls. At another of his his town meetings, this one in North Berwick Wednesday night, LePage claimed that more than 90% of drug dealers arrested since last January are black or Hispanic. 

At his town meeting in North Berwick Wednesday night, Gov. Paul LePage blasted President Barack Obama for using his executive power to create the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in northern Maine.

“I am going to do everything in my power to have the next president reverse this decision,” he says.

Gov. Paul LePage has called for taxes on electric cars to help maintain the state’s roads and bridges.

“I know everybody wants more gas taxes, but the gas tax is giving them a bigger free ride. I think the Legislature is going to have to address, how do they share in paying for our roads?” LePage said on his weekly appearance on WVOM.

The governor says he has suggested they could be taxed through the sales or excise tax, and called on the Legislature to address the problem.

Maine continues to see a record number of overdose deaths. The latest figures show 189 people have died of overdoses in the first six months of his year. That’s up from 126 during the same time last year. As Mal Leary reports state officials are worried the state is on track to see close to 400 by the end of December.

The number of drug overdose deaths in Maine continued to rise in the first six months of this year.

Records from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner identified 189 drug deaths, up from 126 in the first six months of 2015.

“That increase is largely due to fentanyl, fentanyl analogues as well as heroin,” says Marcella Sorg, a forensic anthropologist at the University of Maine who analyzes death records for the attorney general’s office.

BATH, Maine_ The US Coast Guard is expected to award a major contract this month, as it launches a plan to replace more than  two dozen of its aging cutters used to patrol the coast.  "BIW is clearly in the running." says Republican Sen. Susan Collins.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine Public Advocate Tim Schneider told members of the Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee that the new position created at their suggestion has been successful in helping consumers. 

Kiera Finucane has been on the job for nearly two years and developed online guides for consumers.

Mainers know far less about what is being spent to influence their vote today than they did nearly a decade ago. The difference is dramatic, and it’s leaving even some candidates in the dark about whether their constituents truly support them.

AUGUSTA, Maine -  Maine Sen. Susan Collins is urging the U.S. Senate to pass her legislation aimed at reducing financial fraud perpetrated on seniors.

Her Senior Safe Act would allow bank tellers to report suspicious transactions to law enforcement without having to worry about bank secrecy laws.

“It is not controversial," Collins said in Bangor today. "And yet it is a bill that would really make a difference to many seniors that area being ripped off by con artists every single day.”

Several women’s advocacy groups announced their support of the fall ballot question raising the state minimum wage at a Bangor news conference Thursday.

“When we raise the minimum wage we boost our economy by making sure all workers have money to spend locally on food, rent, health care and other basic needs. This is vital for the financial security of women in Maine,” says Eliza Townsend executive director of the Maine Women’s Lobby.

AUGUSTA, Maine - The Department of Environmental Protection will propose a $50 million bond issue in the January session to address a growing backlog of sewer and water treatment projects statewide.

 Gov. Paul LePage has given the green light to the Department of Environmental Protection to propose a $50 million bond issue in the January session to address the growing backlog of sewer and water treatment projects.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine started the new budget year in July in the red by more than $3 million. But it’s not as bad as it first sounds.

State law requires transfers to various accounts, such as the Milk Stabilization Fund and the Tourism Promotion Fund. This year, all of those happened in July.  In the past, some of those transfers have occurred in August, says state Finance Commissioner Richard Rosen.

“All indications are that the combination of good weather and low gas prices are showing strength in food, in lodging, in retail activity," Rosen says.

The Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services is asking for a supplemental appropriation in January of over $2.8 million.

John Pelletier, executive director of the commission, says lawmakers rejected an attempt earlier this year to get additional money requested in the two-year budget, but not approved.

“For ‘16 they gave us the amount to increase the hourly rate, but they zeroed out the cost increase, saying that is the second year of the biennium,” he says.

Maine will join the growing number of states that will consider legislation next year to regulate fantasy sports gambling.

Fantasy sports gambling is big business. Players select their fantasy teams from real professional sports teams, pay an upfront amount and win money back based on how those players perform.

Pro football dominates the online leagues, run by websites such as FanDuel and Draft Kings. So far eight states have adopted laws regulating the fantasy sports leagues for contests that run a day, sometimes as long as a week.