Maine Gov. Paul LePage’s union busting chops are coming into conflict with his disdain for wasteful spending as the federal government is demanding $60,000 back that it contributed to sponsor a mural he has since removed from the state’s Department of Labor building.
LePage, a Republican, took down the mural, which depicted labor history in the state, in response to alleged complaints that it offended the business community. The move drew protests and LePage’s combative response drew an additional public rebuke from eight GOP state senators in a widely published op-ed.
But now the federal Department of Labor, which financed the mural with a $60,000 grant, are getting in on the action, writing in a letter that the state will forfeit its money if it fails to use the mural for its intended purpose.
According to a letter obtained by the Portland Press Herald from Gay Gilbert, administrator of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Unemployment Insurance, the state must either repay the grant or hang the mural up in a suitable location.
“Alternatively, the state could again display the mural in its headquarters or in another state employment security building,” Gilbert wrote.
According to the Press Herald, the Maine Department of Labor is still reviewing the letter.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.