Mal Leary

Maine Public Political Correspondent

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads Maine Public'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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Second District Congressperson Bruce Poliquin is warning Veterans Administration Officials and their contractors that they need to fix their electronic medical records system and be held accountable.

“Your job, and you know this better than I do, is to deliver a project that works, on budget and early,” says Poliquin. “And I am going to be one member on the committee that holds you accountable.”

Maine Public

The issue of selling government bonds for projects across Maine turned into a spat between Gov. Paul LePage and State Treasurer Terry Hayes Monday.

Governor LePage blocked the bond sale last week, and now the governor and the state treasurer are trading charges over who is responsible for the delay that has upset several contractors with projects underway.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

Lawmakers are back in Augusta as their special session continues, and the work continues to mount.

Lawmakers have yet to complete votes on several bond proposals that would go to the voters in November, even as they grapple with Gov. LePage’s refusal to sign off on the sale of already-approved borrowing that is needed to fund ongoing road and bridge projects.

AUGUSTA, Maine - First up when lawmakers return to the State House this week will be two spending bills that were unanimously approved by the Appropriations Committee. 

Eric Gay / AP Photo

Maine 1st District Rep. Chellie Pingree is co-sponsoring legislation that would prohibit the federal government from separating children from their parents at the country’s border.

“Basically it says there should be no separation and there should be a primary, you know, process of family reunification any time a child is separated,” Pingree says.

Pingree says she has heard from many Maine constituents who say they are outraged at the news that children are being separated from their parents when trying to enter the country.

Mal Leary / Maine Public

It is only a few days past the June primary, but one independent candidate for the office of governor has already launched a 10-day TV ad campaign.

Alan Caron told reporters at the State House that with all the focus on party candidates in recent months, he wants to remind voters that there are other choices for governor.

“The independents in this race have largely been in the shadows as a result of the structure we have in place that devotes all of these resources and energy to the primaries for the two parties,” said Caron.

Fred Bever / Maine Public

Now that the June primary is over - sort of - we turn to Maine Public's two political correspondents, Steve Mistler and Mal Leary, for some analysis of the results.  They spoke with Maine Calling host Jennifer Rooks earlier about some of Tuesday night's surprises - including, says Mistler, the Republican gubernatorial primary in which Shawn Moody got the nomination.

Susan Walsh

Maine U.S. Sen. Angus King is urging the Food and Drug Administration to back off a requirement that natural honey and maple products carry the label of “sugar added.”

King made his case on the floor of the Senate.  “This would have a significant impact on these industries nationwide," he said.  "And these are important businesses. In Maine maple syrup is a $20 million a year business."

Fred Bever / Maine Public

Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap says turnout was mixed for Tuesday's June primary.  Dunlap, who toured the state today, says some towns had local issues on the ballot that drove increased turnout, while others reported light activity.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

Maine Gov. Paul LePage says he will not certify the results of Tuesday's election because of his opposition to ranked-choice voting.  But Secretary of State Matt Dunlap says the governor's threat is hollow, as certification isn't required in party primary nomination contests.

Originally published 3:13 p.m. June 11, 2018.

Lawmakers are making slow progress on addressing numerous bills and issues left unresolved from their second regular legislative session, which ended in early May. On Monday, the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee passed a $37 million spending package that could set the stage for resolving outstanding issues in a special session that could happen as early as next week.

Robert F. Bukaty / AP Photo

Maine Attorney General Janet Mills is recusing herself from any pending legal actions involving Medicaid expansion, citing her candidacy for governor and stated support for Medicaid expansion

“If there is a role for this office to play, I will defer to their judgement in that regard," Mills says. "It’s important to recognize that I am a candidate for Governor in Tuesday’s primary election and I have taken a strong position on Medicaid expansion.”

Robert F. Bukaty / Maine Public

Polling in primary elections has always been difficult, due to typically-low voter turnout. But experts say it is even more arduous when voters are surveyed about their preferences under the new ranked-choice voting law.

The Senate Appropriations Committee has unanimously approved the Transportation budget that was recommended by the subcommittee chaired by Sen. Susan Collins. The bill provides increased funding for several key programs, including $1 billion for BUILD grants – a new acronym for TIGER grants.

“This is the transportation program that Maine has been very successful in competing for funds under,” says Collins.

U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree’s effort to block a federal plan to drill offshore for oil and gas has failed on Capitol Hill.

The Interior Department announced last year that it planned to allow exploratory offshore drilling, prompting Pingree to propose a budget amendment that would have blocked the use of any funds appropriated to the agency to implement that plan.