Tuesday afternoon, it came to our attention that our state house reporter, Leif Parsell, had, prior to working with us, made a series of comments on websites that dealt with racial integration issues. Upon review of the comments, it became apparent that the perspective expressed was not in keeping with the mission of The Maine Wire or the values of The Maine Heritage Policy Center. Several hours after learning of these comments,I made the decision to immediately end our employment agreement with Mr. Parsell.
We issued a statement later that evening, which I have copied below. This incident is a perfect example of the impact non-traditional journalism can have – the comments at issue were published by a series of blogs. This level of scrutiny of any player in the public sphere – including us – is exactly what the people of Maine have been waiting for.
This issue, though uncomfortable and temporarily distracting, will not in any way affect our efforts at The Maine Wire. With a slight shuffling of personnel, we will continue to work toward our goal of providing balance and a deeper level of analysis of the issues decided in Augusta that affect Mainers all over the state in a very real way.
I urge anyone with questions or comments about this issue to contact me directly at Lance@MainePolicy.org. I am including links to the reporting from other news organizations and blogs below for an overview of the scope of this issue.
Chief Executive Officer
The Maine Heritage Policy Center
MHPC Statement on Leif Parsell
As a core voice for the promotion of prosperity and liberty in Maine, The Maine Heritage Policy Center is extremely proud of our role as a leader in the public policy discussion in our state.
Earlier today, it came to our attention that a recently-hired staffer had engaged in online discussions that were completely out of the bounds of our value system. MHPC is a strong advocate for the liberty and prosperity of all Mainers, and we deplore the concept of race-based politics. Though these comments were made prior to his employment with our organization, the rift between our value system and those expressed in this pattern of online behavior is significant enough to require an end to our employment of this individual.
It is unfortunate that we were unable to identify this core difference in perspective earlier, but we are thankful to the bloggers who brought this to our attention. As we aspire to a higher standard in our political discourse, and as we work toward a deeper level of scrutiny of our public officials, there is nothing more critical than holding ourselves to those same high standards.