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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AUGUSTA, Maine - Legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House and Senate to require Facebook and other social media sites to block use of their platforms by groups selling weapons needed by terrorists.

In recent months, sites on Facebook have sought to sell everything from heavy machine guns to anti-aircraft missiles. Maine Sen. Angus King, who serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee, says requiring social media platforms to block those sites isn't the right strategy.

Maine House Speaker Mark Eves says he’s not discouraged after having his lawsuit against Gov. Paul LePage dismissed by a federal judge. In fact, Eves says he’d consider taking the case — which alleges LePage abused his power and cost Eves a job as president of a charter school — to the highest court in the land, if necessary.

House Speaker Mark Eves has lost what may only be the first round in his legal battle with Gov. Paul LePage.

Federal judge George Singal has ruled against Eves in his lawsuit against LePage for the his interference in Eves’ job as president of the Good Will-Hinckley School. In his 44-page ruling Singal dismissed arguments that the governor had exceeded his discretion as the state’s chief executive.

Mark Vogelzang / MPBN

Political attack ads have already started to air in Maine’s 1st Congressional District race, targeting incumbent Democrat Chellie Pingree for traveling to Cuba. The ads come from the camp of Republican Ande Smith, who hasn’t even won the GOP nomination yet.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine will get $7.7 million as its share of a nearly $785 million settlement with drug company Pfizer for overcharges to the Medicaid program from 2001 to 2006.

Pfizer's subsidiary, drug-maker Wyeth, did not give Maine and other states the lowest price for certain popular drugs used to control gastric acid. Maine Attorney General Janet Mills says the settlement is significant.

Ed Morin / MPBN

The New York Times and other newspapers have picked up on speculation that U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine might be considered as a running mate for GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump. For her part, Collins has doubts.

AUGUSTA, Maine - The top health official at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is in Maine today. During a visit to the VA center at Togus, Dr. David Shulkin said that the Choice health program, set up two years ago, is too complex and confusing.

Shulkin said every veteran got a Choice card without a clear understanding that there were specific criteria for using them to get care in a community setting rather than visiting the nearest VA facility.

AUGUSTA, Maine - A bill aimed at providing more dental services in Maine's underserved rural areas is dead for the session after the Senate bucked the House and voted to sustain Gov. Paul LePage's veto of the measure.

Earlier, the House voted to override LePage's veto.

The bill would repeal the current requirement for dental therapists to be directly supervised by a dentist. But Sen. Andre Cushing, a Republican from Newport, argued that the move was too risky.

Lawmakers have a wide array of issues before them in what they hope is the last day of this session.

Many are vetoes of bills passed by lawmakers, such as one promoting solar energy, or a measure creating a sales tax exemption for fuel used in commercial agricultural production, aquacultural production and wood harvesting.

House Speaker Mark Eves says most of the day will be spent debating and voting on all of the vetoes, and some are generating more interest than others.

AUGUSTA, Maine - U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were before the Senate Armed Services Committee answering questions about policy in the Middle East and the ongoing conflicts in the region. 

Sen. Angus King questioned Dunford about the status of ISIS in the region.

"Their military capability has been degraded to include their equipment," Dunford said.

"Do we have any information that their morale is declining?" King asked.

Mal Leary / MPBN

Gov. Paul LePage stressed his positions on the need to lower taxes and reduce energy costs at a town meeting in Damariscotta Wednesday night. But he got passionate in his defense of vetoing legislation that would make the lifesaving drug naloxone, also known as Narcan and used to counter drug overdoses, more available.

He told the mostly friendly crowd of about 90 people that the drug, at $70 a dose, is expensive and being overused.

Mark Vogelzang / MPBN

The two Republicans seeking their party’s nomination to challenge incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree in Maine’s 1st Congressional District used the state GOP convention this weekend to garner support.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine House Speaker Mark Eves has written to Attorney General Janet Mills asking that she take action to enforce the state's open meetings law.

Eves says it is clear that Gov. Paul LePage blocked the Blue Ribbon Commission to Reform Public Education Funding from meeting publicly at the Blaine House, in violation of the law.

"We're asking the attorney general to enforce the laws that are on the books currently," Eves says, "so that the public does have access to the meetings."

Lawmakers created a Blue Ribbon Commission to look at funding for Maine’s educational system, from kindergarten through college. But at Gov. Paul LePage’s insistence, the first meeting was held in private at the Blaine House.

The attorney general’s office says that’s a violation of the state’s open meetings law.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine 2nd District Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a member of the House Bipartisan Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic, says a hearing the task force is holding today in New Hampshire is aimed at coming up with recommendations for dealing with the drug crisis.

"What we are trying to do is get expert testimony from the most experienced people around the country who know how to deal with this heroin or opiate addiction problem," Poliquin says. "This is an epidemic in our state and the federal government clearly has a role in trying to defeat this."