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.

Ways to Connect

Five states have been running a welfare fraud prevention pilot program that supporters say could save taxpayers across the country hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Two members of Maine’s Congressional Delegation say they would like to the system used nationwide.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine Democratic Party Chairman Phil Bartlett says the state's Democrats are fired up after the Philadelphia convention, and are already campaigning hard for the fall.

Bartlett  acknowledges that there are still some hardcore Bernie Sanders supporters that are not behind Hillary Clinton's candidacy, but he hopes they will stay active in the party working on other campaigns.  

AUGUSTA, Maine - A new law just taking effect today will help in addressing the state's drug crisis, says Maine Attorney General Janet Mills. She says it won't solve the drug crisis, but it will help.

"There aren't a lot of things I agree with the governor on, but this is one of them," Mills says. "That bill that he put in to crack down on prescribing practices for opiates and for benzodiazepines is a very important bill."

The state ended the budget year with a surplus of about $93 million, but Gov. Paul LePage complains it was all spent as soon as it was counted.

The state surplus is made up of revenues in excess of estimates, unspent balances and unallocated funds carried forward. It totals about $93 million for the budget year that just ended.

At his town meeting in South Paris Wednesday, the governor expressed his frustration that the surplus is now gone.

For 18 years, Theo Kalikow led the University of Maine at Farmington, and then served as interim president of the University of Southern Maine after her retirement. She is now running for the Legislature from Scarborough.

“It’s something I always had in the back of my mind,” she says. “Public service in Maine is like being in a big village.”

Kalikow says Democrats approached her and asked her to run for the Legislature after the party’s nominee dropped out. It’s all part of the election year scramble to contest as many seats in the Legislature as possible.

Gov. Paul LePage has told his commissioners he wants to cut the number of state workers and reduce overall state spending below current levels to fund a significant income tax cut in next year’s budget package.

A memo that was sent to commissioners earlier this month and obtained by Maine Public Radio reveals that the governor has set three goals for the budget-writing process that is already underway.

Jim Hutchison / Flickr/Creative Commons

National nominating conventions are always a bit chaotic, but Democrats appear to be joining Republicans in ratcheting up the chaos more than usual during the first day of the Democratic convention, which got off to a rocky start in Philadelphia.

AUGUSTA, Maine - The chair of Maine's special Education Commission, which has come under fire for closing its first meeting to the public, has hired an attorney. 

Last week, Bill Beardsley did not hesitate to say that he had made a mistake in banning the public and press from the commission's first meeting, in violation of the state's open meetings law.

Doug Ashley, ABC News / Flickr/Creative Commons

Even though Maine Republicans supported Ted Cruz in the state presidential caucuses this year, Maine’s delegates to the Republican National Convention say Donald Trump energized them with his acceptance speech. They acknowledge that not everyone in the party is ready to embrace Trump, but they believe he can help elect candidates for state office this fall.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine Attorney General Janet Mills has joined a federal lawsuit to block Anthem's plan to acquire Cigna Corporation for $48 billion. Mills says both are significant insurance providers in Maine.

"Probably more than half the people of Maine who are employed by the largest employers and in the small market, more than half are covered either by Cigna or Anthem, mostly Anthem," Mills says.

Mills warns that the merger would reduce competition and could result in insurance rate increases for Mainers.

AUGUSTA, Maine - U.S Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald had some good news for those attending the annual Maine Military and Community Network conference:  He is extending the pilot ARCH program that allows veterans to get health care locally instead of driving to Togus.

The program was scheduled to end next month.  "So to address that challenge, I used an exception through the choice act to make sure veterans in Maine can continue to use the providers they use through project ARCH."

Among those attending the Republican National Convention this week was U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who returned early to attend a veterans’ conference in Augusta. She says she is still not ready to endorse Donald Trump even though he is now the Republican Party’s nominee for president.

After a rocky start, the special commission charged with recommending improvements to Maine’s education system will get underway this summer.

Beardsley says it was a mistake to ban members of the public, the Legislature and the news media from the commission’s first meeting at the Blaine House. And he says all of the six planned meetings he hopes to schedule through the end of the year will be open.

Earlier this year, at the urging of Gov. Paul LePage, Maine lawmakers created a special commission on education policy. Its charge was to take a broad look at education policy at all levels.

After a shaky first step, LePage cast doubt on the future of the panel. But the commission chair insists it will continue on and offer full access to the public.