Efficiency Maine uses taxpayer money to buy ads on left-wing political website

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Efficiency Maine, the quasi-governmental agency that pushes to increase the use of “alternative energy,” has used taxpayer funds to buy advertising on Maine Insights, the ultra-liberal website of Ramona Du Houx that regularly advocates for extreme liberal positions and causes, including many “green” initiatives.

Government agencies are prohibited from using public funds to advertise on partisan political websites.

Efficiency Maine ad on Maine Insights

Efficiency Maine bought the ad to be placed on the Maine Insights website in June 2011, according to executive director Michael Stoddard. He said the ad cost $500 and was slated to run for six months to advertise PACE loans, a type of energy-efficiency loan.

While the ad was supposed to expire, it is still displaying prominently on the Maine Insights website. Maine Insights is without doubt a partisan political website, a fact that Efficiency Maine board member and state Sen. Doug Smith agrees with. “The site is clearly partisan as currently published,” Smith said.

While Stoddard agreed the site is political now, he says that it has emerged as partisan only since the ad was placed a year ago. Stoddard said he was “a little bit uncomfortable with it, since it has taken a different direction than it was headed a year ago when we bought the ad.”

Despite Stoddard’s claims that Maine Insights has only recently emerged as partisan and political, the archived posts on the website tell a different story.

In April 2011, well before the ad was purchased, Du Houx wrote a piece demanding Governor LePage put the infamous “Labor Mural” back up. She also wrote regularly about the benefits of many “green” initiatives that Efficiency Maine operates.

In fact, before Efficiency Maine purchased the ad on the site, Du Houx was already advertising for the organization with her posts. She posted an article on June 8, 2010 titled, “Weatherize your home this summer and get $4,000 in cash back from the state’s Home Energy Savings Program.”

Du Houx also regularly features interviews and profiles of prominent Democrat leaders including Chellie Pingree, Emily Cain, Justin Alfond and Barry Hobbins. She does not publish profiles of Republicans, but criticizes them regularly.

She is the mother of Maine State Rep. Alexander Cornell Du Houx (D–Brunswick), who has been embroiled in recent controversy over whether he should step down because of legal complications stemming from his relationship with another member of the legislature.

Along with regular profiles of Democrats—including many of her son—Du Houx also regularly features “articles” that are blatantly partisan. Many of the articles were published prior to Efficiency Maine purchasing the ad on her site.

Examples of articles from Du Houx, all dated before Efficiency Maine purchased their ad, include:

• “Reckless insurance law bad for Maine” (referring to Republican-led health reform) – May 18, 2011

• “Democrats stand with public in opposition to governor’s new budget proposal” – May 12, 2011

• “Minority leader Rep. Emily Cain on LePage’s plans and how Democrats are fighting back” – April 8, 2011

• “GOP attacks state Reps. for doing the right thing – leading the way to weatherization” – February 18, 2011

• “Gov. LePage’s proposals, if enacted, will irreversible damage Maine’s quality of life” – February 6, 2011

In addition to these articles, Du Houx featured an interview with Efficiency Maine director Michael Stoddard on March 1, 2011, before the advertisement was purchased, titled “Weatherization—a huge economic development plan for Maine.”

Despite the obvious partisan political nature of the website even before the advertisement was purchased, the decision was still made to buy the ad. But it’s unclear who was responsible for the decision to buy the ad.

Stoddard says it wasn’t him. While he was executive director at the time, he said that it was “not my call what papers/websites to use” for advertising. He said Efficiency Maine’s “communications division” was responsible for the selection.

Communications Director Paul Badeau joined Efficiency Maine in March of 2011, well before the ad was placed. The Maine Wire’s requests for comment from Badeau have not been answered.

*update* Paul Badeau responded to requests for comment after the story went live. “I was responsible for placing the ad on Maine Insight,” Baeau said in a statement. “Our review indicated at the time that Maine Insight was a news magazine, provided extensive coverage of energy issues…the cost was well below industry standards for a six-month commitment. I was not aware that this was a partisan website, as that was never conveyed implicitly or explicitly, and nowhere on the site did it indicate being a partisan site.”

Senator Smith says the incident warrants further discussion at the board level. “This illustrates that private websites should be carefully vetted by Efficiency Maine prior to authorizing ads,” Smith said.

When called for comment, Maine Insights owner Ramona Du Houx said that she was “busy, thanks very much” and abruptly hung up the phone.

35 COMMENTS

  1. Under every rock (political organization) we find government administrators violating the law, their oaths and the public trust to appease and promote the Leftist/Marxists.  it is just now that some of them are being taken to task for such activities but many more just get a pass.   

  2. Umm, so we’re talking about a $500 ad buy for six months…sounds like a good deal! I don’t see the smoking gun here. Maybe they shouldn’t have done business with this website. But nothing about this is illegal. Efficiency Maine has a good, nonpartisan reputation and this is much ado about nothing. Don’t we have more important things to worry about as a state? 

  3. Of course she was “busy.” All those calls and texts to her son in Australia are time-consuming, along with endless pasting of the same “defense” to his alleged domestic abuse charges on various websites. She’s a busy gal.

  4. And what say you about Mr. Poliquin’s blog, taxpayer-supported newsletters, etc targeting Maine State Housing and Dale McCormick? 

    And how about that Charlie Summers not resigning as Secretary of State when he’s running for U.S. Senate?

    Stop trying to make trouble where there is none and focus of some real questions (although I understand you not wanting to touch the first with a ten-foot pole).

  5. More liberal hypocrisy and corruption from a ‘ quasi-state agency ‘. Seems Efficiency Maine can’t stay out of hot water.
    Brunswick must be very proud of this moonbat and her idiot son, who is not fit to occupy the seat in the legislature he holds.

  6.  Quasi governmental agency employees who waste tax dollars and incompetent bureaucrats need to be shown the door.

  7. Efficiency Maine is a joke and a huge waste of taxpayer money. I call on all legislators to pull the plug!

  8. I don’t like my tax dollars going to support partisans of either side.  I would like the $500 back in the coffers.  I think it is totally inappropriate for government agencies to advertise, and totally inappropriate for them to support private websites.  And, Efficiency Maine does NOT have a good reputation with everyone, because it advocates things not all of us believe to be true.

  9. I knew something smelled when I saw the ad for changing your electricity supplier.

    I will stay with the “standard offer”!

  10. Nancy,
    Please……..stop grasping at straws. poloquin was informing what state goverment was doing to protect tax dollars.

    ” Targeting” is a very slick word for you to use as an inflamatory weapon to excite the left and the ill informed but it is inacurate.

    Charlie Summers does not HAVE to resign his present position. It is a practice used by both sides of the aisle forever.

     You know that but again you use words that excite and are designed with a certain venom your side is so noted for.

  11. –> The last six Maine secretaries of state and attorneys general who ran for office while serving did not resign. The time span covers the last 30 years.

    Some were Democrats, some were Republicans. None were legally required to resign, and none did so.

    —> Maine has a Deputy Secretary of State, Ms. Julie Flynn, whose tasks include elections. Summers has already made plans to have Deputy Julie Flynn handle all duties where the election would present any conflict.

    http://www.maine.gov/sos/contact/

    This is how it’s been done in the past, and the Maine Constitution sets it forth, for that very purpose.

    If the SOS dies, falls ill, or has to resign, the office continues to operate, via the Deputy and other staff.

    Your attempts to smear Summers are pathetic.

    No organic, hand-harvested stogie for you.

  12.  I believe the same with regard to lobbying. One of the first things Peter Mills did as the new director at MTA was end the outside lobbying contracts. The same should hold true for all quasi agencies.

  13. It’s hard to say they spent “tax dollars” when the EMT gets (got) its funds from a variety of sources, including in 2011 $14m directly from ARRA, and another $27m from MSHA, some of which was ARRA money.  They do get “tax” money from all the quasi taxes that are placed on various energy supplies, including an electricity tax called “System Benefit Charge,” or SBC.  Beware the upcoming Renewable Mandate Referendum, which seeks to take more ratepayer money for the EMT because the ARRA money made life good for a couple of years, and now it’s gone.  See page 20 at this link for detail about EMT’s funding sources:  http://www.efficiencymaine.com/docs/other/EMT_Final_Tri_Plan.pdf

  14. Stan claims he’s leaving, but they have no replacement. Fred Horch could pick up the seat but hasn’t started campaigning, esp. on  Bowdoin’s campus where the ‘houx’ graduated. 

    The ‘mommy’ factor is fascinating; how many politicians have been groomed by their mothers?

    Stan Gerzofsky’s mother, Molly Pitcher, a long time dem. activist guided his career; but Ramona seems the ultimate control freak and bullied dem. agency heads into subsiding her website and newspaper….taxpayer supported political propaganda.

    WILL SOMEONE SUE AND GET RID OF CRONYISM? 

  15. All of the articles from “Efficiency Maine” are so biased in their attacks against ANYTHING CONSERVATIVE that ant money that was spent there from the Quasi Agency, and the examples of articles from Du Houx, all dated before Efficiency Maine purchased their ad, include:
    • “Reckless insurance law bad for Maine” (referring to Republican-led health reform) – May 18, 2011
    • “Democrats stand with public in opposition to governor’s new budget proposal” – May 12, 2011• “Minority leader Rep. Emily Cain on LePage’s plans and how Democrats are fighting back” – April 8, 2011• “GOP attacks state Reps. for doing the right thing – leading the way to weatherization” – February 18, 2011• “Gov. LePage’s proposals, if enacted, will irreversible damage Maine’s quality of life” – February 6, 2011These articles are nothing more that marxist rhetoric from Du Houx. As far as NancyEH’s  statement’s, she has not a whit of truth in any of her statements, because it’s her opinion and has no basis in fact. She represents what has been wrong with Maine for the last 30 some years. Maine has been run over by the liberals/socialists, communists and marxists. Why do you think Maine is in the financial state that it is???? It is because those that have been in power for all these years have more than taken advantage of the tax payers in this State.So please make sure you tell everyone you know to make sure that they are registered to vote, and that they actually do vote come November.

  16. Agreed. She can’t debate. She has no facts.

    The left resorts to emotion and fear to launch their attacks. It’s all they have. Sorry to say, it IS effective among the uniformed.

    A quick glance at a newspaper (headlines only) and 30 minutes in front of ABC TV and the are armed with their opinions for the day.

     Get into any subject deeper than a sound bite and all of a sudden they panic and remember they have an urgent appointment.

  17. I would consider and advertising in the Portland Press Herald a “left wing political” rag..  any of the money spent there?!?!?!

  18. Another example of the wasteful, crony-oriented political structure that is the result of decades of Democratic dominence in Maine governance.  Cleaning up this mess is going to take some time, but at least the process has begun.

  19. Poliquin is on the MSHA board.  It’s his job to ask hard questions about operations.  McCormick’s sloppy management gave him plenty to look into.  There was enough there to fire her whether crimes were committed or not.

  20. Come on guys we all know rules are written for everyone but liberals, the do as I say not as I do party. And lighten up on Nancy she is an educator don’t you know, a protected class of liberal.

  21. I guess Cronyism can exist at each end of the spectrum. The governor’s daughter got a pretty nice ($42,000) job working for dad.

  22. My comment was not how much work the position might require,but rather related to how it was obtained. The other applicable term is nepotism.

  23. This repeated post by others, about nepotism, grows wearisome. I think Lepage is entitled to have as his chief aide someone whose loyalty is unquestioned. President Kennedy named his younger brother, Robert, as attorney general, and RFK was unquestionably NOT qualified for the job at the time he received the appointment.

  24. Your ignorance of the hiring of confidential assistants is embellish by your moronic partisanship. 

    Baldacci hired dozens of people whose only credential was loyalty and paid many over 100k…and then there was that labor goon John Richardson hired with zero education and experience in economic development. 

  25. You should see what is going on at Walmart with the CHEAP 98 cent package of 6 CFLs on the EM display…I personally witnessed on SEVERAL occasions out of staters laughing while filling entire carts to take back to NJ , Mass. Conn. ect…We are financing light bulbs for rich tourists…This crap needs to stop NOW…Disband the entire corrupt mess…

  26. Hi!

    What will be done about this incident, since according to the article, government agencies are forbidden to use taxpayer money to advertise on partisan political websites?

    Sounds like this is a legal issue.

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