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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Mal Leary

More than 150 members of the Maine Army National Guard’s 133rd Engineering Battalion returned home today to hundreds of family members and friends at the Augusta State Armory. After nearly a year in Afghanistan, soldiers wasted no time reuniting with family.

Members of Maine’s congressional delegation are concerned with the United States Supreme Court ruling today that family-owned corporations do not have to provide insurance coverage for contraception under the Affordable Care Act.  The court ruled, 5-4, that requiring such insurance coverage violates a federal law protecting religious freedom.

Maine has had a prescription drug monitoring program since 2003.  Designed to prevent and detect prescription drug diversion, it's an electronic database of all transactions involving controlled substances. In other words, it's a way for pharmacists and physicians to keep track of the types and quantities of pills that are being prescribed.  But the program is voluntary. And with drug overdoes deaths climbing, Maine's attorney general says it's time to beef up the program and its mission.

Mal Leary

State revenues were off in May by just over $14 million, reducing the state’s revenue surplus to less than $19 million for the budget year that ends June 30. 

Finance Commissioner Richard Rosen says the drop was a timing issue for income tax withholding payments and the taxes paid by insurance companies, and that  by the end of this month that $14 million should be totally made up.

At the end of last year, scores of tax breaks expired affecting both businesses and individuals. They range from a tax break for teachers who buy school supplies out of their own pockets to write-offs for business equipment purchases, and a special tax break for Puerto Rican rum production. The members of Maine's congressional delegation want some of the tax breaks extended, but question the likelihood, given the politically-charged atmosphere on Capitol Hill.

There is a rare point of agreement among the three leading candidates for governor: They all agree that the bump up in the state's bond rating is good news. A few years ago, Moody's Investor Services lowered Maine's credit rating slightly by saying it had a negative outlook for its Double A-2 rating. For the bond sale scheduled for later this month, Moody's improved that status to a "stable outlook." And Gov. Paul LePage says a further improvement could propel a major bond package from the administration.

Gov. Paul LePage has suggested that top Democrats at the State House "butt out" of the business of the executive branch. It all started last week when Senate President Justin Alfond and House Speaker Mark Eves sent a letter to LePage urging that he immediately terminate the controversial contract with the Alexander Group to study the state's welfare system. The governor responded with a letter and some comments. And the partisan tensions that characterized the legislative session are continuing long after the last bang of the gavel.

Congressman Mike Michaud, the Democratic candidate for governor, is defending his record and that of the House Veterans Affairs Committee that he has served on during his dozen years in Congress.

Michaud says many problems raised over the years by the Veterans Affairs' Office of the Inspector General have been addressed, despite allegations by Gov. Paul LePage that they have not.

Mal Leary / MPBN

Maine Democrats are gathering in Bangor this weekend for their biennial party convention with this year’s elections the main agenda item. Democrats want to energize their rank and file members to support party candidates this fall.

  Democrats are gathered here in Bangor's new Cross Insurance Center, where Republicans met last month. The convention is just getting underway with most of the activity scheduled for tomorrow.

The two Republican candidates for Congress in the state's 2nd Congressional District squared off Tuesday in their only statewide broadcast debate. Bruce Poliquin and Kevin Raye pulled no punches in the hour-long debate, taped for air Wednesday on MPBN.

Mal Leary / MPBN

Hoping to put all questions about the future of Maine's National Guard - as he put it - "To bed," Gov. Paul LePage called a press conference with Adj. Gen. James Campbell to discuss what's known and not known about a much larger restructuring of the U.S. military. LePage says the issue is being studied by a panel, and the media coverage in recent weeks of the possible loss of the 133rd Engineer Battalion has been well ahead of itself. But Campbell repeated his prediction that Maine will be targeted for change by top brass.

A.J. Higgins / MPBN

At an impromptu news conference today, Gov. Paul LePage announced that he has suspended the state's nearly $1 million contract with the Alexander Group for a study of Maine's welfare system, after additional allegations of plagiarism surfaced in the media.

Gov. LePage told reporters he is very upset at additional allegations of plagiarism raised in a story posted on the Portland Press Herald's Web site.

Gov. Paul LePage met today with Brig. Gen. James Campbell, the leader of the Maine National Guard, to discuss contingency plans to meet proposed cuts in the size of the National Guard across the country. LePage defends Campbell, and says the issue has, unfortunately, become politicized. But an email from Campbell to staff of Maine's congressional delegation indicates Campbell wants basic changes in the guard, whether or not those cuts come to fruition.

The controversial consultant Gov. Paul LePage hired to provide a report on ways to reform Maine's welfare system is under fire again, this time for allegedly lifting some of its findings verbatim from the work of a Washington D.C.-based think tank on developing welfare-to-work programs.

  A 2011 study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a progressive think tank, looked at ways to improve the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program - or TANF - by using that cash benefit program to subsidize jobs in the private sector as a person is trained for a job.

If you ever have gone searching for a new car on the Internet and then noticed that, suddenly, there are car ads showing up in your browser window - and you're also getting mailers at home - you have experienced the types of marketing techniques that were used in the most recent presidential election. And now that same technology is making its way into local political races in Maine. Mal Leary has more.