Inside Augusta

Speaker Eves Loses Charter School Job After Pressure From Governor LePage

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Good Will-Hinckley has rescinded its offer to House Speaker Democrat Mark Eves to be their president.

“The basis for this decision is grounded in the institution’s desire not to be involved in political controversy that will divert attention away from our core mission of serving children and has the potential to jeopardize the future of our school,” said Jack Moore, Chairman of the Board at Good-Will Hinckley.

Eves claims that the board’s decision was made due to a threat from Governor Paul R. LePage to withhold half a million dollars in state funding to the charter school if they went through with their decision, although the school did not mention the threat as a contributing factor to breaking their contract with the Speaker.

Governor LePage previously wrote a letter to the organization during the hiring process, arguing that Eves should be disqualified from the position due to his past opposition to charter schools.

Eves has made clear his opposition to charter schools several times.  When the Maine legislature took the historic vote to allow charter schools back in 2009, Eves voted with the opposition.  In 2011, Eves once again voted against the creation of charter schools.

Eves has also written critically of charter schools in the past, claiming that the statement “school choice benefits each and every Maine student” is a myth, and that 37 percent of charter schools actually provide a worse education than traditional public schools.

After Good Will-Hinckley offered Eves the position, the governor allegedly threatened to withhold half a million dollars in state funding to the school.  A major donor to the charter school wrote a letter to the board, raising concerns about the possible cut in state funding, further pressuring the board to break their contract with Eves.

Eves has strong connections to members of the board of directors at Good Will-Hinckley, a point that the governor noted in a press release Thursday.

“This back-room deal between cronies is exactly the kind of political corruption I came to Augusta to fight against,” said Governor LePage. “I will not stand for it and neither will the Maine people. Speaker Eves has been an ardent foe of charter schools for his entire political career, then he turns around and gets hired to run a charter school—whose board is chaired by Eves’ own State House employee—for a cushy job worth about $150,000 in total compensation. To provide half-a-million dollars in taxpayer funding to a charter school that would be headed by Maine’s most vehement anti-charter-school politician is not only the height of hypocrisy, it is absolutely unacceptable.”

“To have the school run by someone so opposed to charter schools would be very troublesome,” he continued.

Eves reacted strongly to the board’s decision, accusing the governor of political blackmail.

“The governor’s actions should deeply trouble every single taxpayer, Maine resident and member of our citizen Legislature,” Eves said. “I have strongly disagreed with the governor on many issues, but I have never gone after his family the way he has gone after me personally, my wife and my three children.”

Eves’ lawyer has stated that the Speaker is considering suing the governor over the alleged misconduct.

Liberals in Maine’s House of Representatives, which Eves’ controls, have announced their intentions to impeach the governor for his actions.

 

About Nathan Strout

Nathan Strout is a Development Associate with The Maine Heritage Policy Center as well as a staff writer for The Maine Wire. Born and raised in Portland, Strout is a graduate of Eastern University with a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in Legal Studies.

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