As I look through the recently released campaign finance reports, many things are leaping out at me that I am sure I will write about in the coming days and weeks. But right off the top, this one was the most glaring.
Over the past six months, Brent Littlefield, Gov. Paul LePage’s senior political adviser, has repeatedly told one media outlet or another that the governor’s internal polling shows the governor “with a comfortable lead,” an “approval rating above 50 percent,” “leading his likely opponents,” and on and on.
Here’s a sampling:
- “LePage’s more recent private polling shows his approval rating above 50 percent, and he is leading likely opponents, political adviser Brent Littlefield said.” – Philadelphia Inquirer, Aug. 12, 2013
- “LePage political adviser Brent Littlefield regularly berates the media for covering public polls, and has claimed the governor’s internal poll numbers are solid.” – Bangor Daily News, Sept. 11, 2013
- “‘LePage internal data still shows the governor with a lead … still with a comfortable lead,’ wrote Littlefield in an email to media organizations Monday morning.” – Bangor Daily News, Nov. 12, 2013
I have always found these statements interesting because I have a lot of contacts in the Republican Party, and all of them have said, “If the governor has poll numbers, we’ve never seen ‘em.” I thought to myself, boy, Littlefield sure does run a tight ship. He won’t even share these numbers with his closest advisers.
Well, now it turns out he might not be running such a tight ship. In fact, based on his previous statements, it appears he could be lying about his polling that “still shows” LePage doing well. If he had done polling and not reported it, the campaign would have broken campaign finance laws.
According to the LePage campaign’s latest campaign filing, over the six months covered in the quotes above, the campaign spent just over $90,000. The problem is that, according to the report, not one penny of it was spent on polling. Not one.
So, either the campaign has violated state finance laws and made an expenditure that it didn’t report, or mislabeled an expenditure (a rule violation), or no polling has occurred since last May when the campaign reported a $1,600 expenditure for such. A third option could be that a third party, like People Before Politics, did the polling and gave it to the campaign. But in that case, an in-kind donation would have to be listed. No such donation was recorded.
Either way, after his name appeared in connection to the Dome Messaging fiasco, and now this, Littlefield’s credibility is starting to crumble.
Note: I sent Brent the following text message this afternoon and he has yet to respond: “Hey, I noticed on the Gov’s report that there aren’t any expenses for polling, however you have said the Gov’s internal numbers have continued to show his strength even as late as November. Any comment on the disconnect?” If/when I hear from him, I will update.
– Posted by Ethan Strimling