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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Maine U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin grilled the former CEO of Equifax, Richard Smith, at a hearing on last month’s breach of Equifax computers that compromised the private information of more than 140 million Americans.

The 2nd District Republican said he was concerned by reports that several top executives at the company sold stock in the company before the public was aware that the company's computers had been hacked.

Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine says he strongly objects to a proposed budget resolution that will increase the budget deficit by cutting taxes.

“To build into a budget that we are going to put on the floor that says we are going to add $1.5 trillion to the deficit through an unfunded tax cut, I just can’t accept that,” he says.

King told the Senate budget committee that it should work on bringing fairness to the tax structure. He says he rejects the argument that cutting taxes will bolster the economy to the point that overall revenues will increase.

Maine U.S. Sen. Susan Collins is calling for stepped up prosecution of scammers using robo-calls to prey on elderly Americans.

Federal officials say nearly 2.4 billion robocalls are made every month, and many are scams aimed at seniors.  At a Senate Aging Committee hearing on the issue, Collins said more resources are needed to prosecute the scammers.

“Law enforcement works. It deters others from committing the crime," said Collins, the committee's chair. "If we are going to win this fight, we need to better our understanding of these con artists and their scams.”

Gov. Paul LePage has nominated acting commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services, Ricker Hamilton, to take the top post that was vacated earlier this year by Mary Mayhew — a choice that is likely to draw fire from some lawmakers.

As deputy DHHS commissioner, Hamilton ran several different divisions within the agency, including the Office of Aging and Disability Services and the Office of Child and Family Services. He was also in charge of the embattled Riverview Psychiatric Center.

Portland-based Maine Employers’ Mutual Insurance Company has returned $21 million to some 18,000 Maine employers who purchase their workers compensation insurance from the company. 

MEMIC's president, Michael Bourque, says the lower costs were achieved by getting employers to focus on safety. “Changing the culture to one of workplace safety, one where people get trained and are following safety rules and reduce injuries," he says. "It's common sense that if you have fewer injuries, cost goes down.”

Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

Under questioning Tuesday by Maine U.S. Sen. Angus King, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said he thinks it's in the nation's security interest to maintain the Iran nuclear deal.

King questioned Mattis at a meeting of the Senate Armed Services Committee on policies in southeast Asia.  King asked Mattis directly about continuing the agreement with Iran on inspection and limitation of its atomic weapons development.

Members of Maine’s congressional delegation expressed horror at the shootings in Las Vegas and offered sympathy for the victims and their families.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine’s 1st District joined in expressing sympathy, but says that in light of the mass shootings in recent years, Congress needs to act on several bills that would reduce the likelihood of gun violence.

Mal Leary / Maine Public

Navy Secretary Richard Spencer visited Bath Iron Works for the first time Friday, just a day after awarding the yard a contract for building two destroyers. He used the visit to praise the quality of BIW’s work, and to talk about the Navy’s plans to expand its fleet.

The two guided missile destroyers awarded to BIW this week have actually been authorized for some time. One was authorized in 2013 and the other in 2015, but the funding and the contract would take a few years more.

Maine State Police

Accidents on Maine roadways this summer have caused closures that have tied up traffic for hours on end in some cases, as responders must not only help injured victims and clear debris, but also conduct detailed investigations of the accident scene. The Maine State Police has a new piece of high-flying technology that it says will speed that process up.

Mal Leary / Maine Public

There was no shortage of comments as scores of Mainers filled a hearing room and two overflow rooms at the State House to express their concerns with proposed legislation to regulate the recreational sale of marijuana in Maine. And those testifying were not shy about spelling out what they don’t like about the bill.

Mal Leary / Maine Public

Maine Gov. Paul LePage says he may use a provision of the Maine Constitution to remove any sheriff who does not cooperate with federal officials on enforcement of immigration laws. But the two sheriffs LePage is angry with say they are following the law.

A strike at Bath Iron Works has been averted after members of the Bath Marine Draftsmen Association ratified an agreement on Saturday. The union had voted last weekend to authorize a strike if an agreement was not reached by Monday.

The union, which represents more than 700 workers, and BIW met with a federal mediator starting Wednesday. The two sides reached a tentative agreement late Friday evening.

As contract talks continue this weekend between the Bath Marine Draftsmen’s Association and Bath Iron Works, unions across the state are making plans to show support should a strike be called next week.

Should the talks fail this weekend and more than 700 members of the draftsmen’s union go on strike, the Maine AFL-CIO and BIW’s largest union, Local 6, are working on plans to stand in support.

The debate over who’s responsible for abandoned and discontinued roads continued before the Legislature’s State and Local Government Committee Thursday.

“We’ve decided to have MMA (Maine Municipal Association), a group of managers and other parties and our legal staff come up with something they can reach consensus on,” says Rep. Danny Martin, a Democrat from Sinclair who co-chairs the committee.

The issue has been around for years. Homeowners on roads that have been abandoned or discontinued by the town or county are facing lawsuits over who should maintain those roads.

Alex Brandon / Associated Press

Maine U.S. Sen. Susan Collins said Thursday that she has many reservations about the Cassidy-Graham bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, but she hasn't yet decided whether to support or reject the legislation.

Collins said first she wants to see the Congressional Budget Office's analysis, due out early next week. “I‘ve been reluctant to take a final position on this bill because I have been given numbers that are widely divergent,” Collins said Thursday morning, at an event in Augusta.