Gov. Janet Mills appears to have stretched the truth when she described the supposed outpouring of gratitude she received from Mainers after the state returned surplus taxes to residents of Maine in the form of $850 checks.
In 2022, prior to Election Day, the State Legislature and the Mills Administration agreed to send out $850 checks.
Mills wound up tricking Republican lawmakers by sending the payments out via traditional mail rather than the more efficient and less expensive electronic transfer, as her administration had said they would, which allowed them to include a letter signed by Mills taking credit for the payments.
Republicans accused Mills of an obvious vote buying scheme, but Mills insisted the people of Maine were grateful for the checks.
So grateful, in fact, that on Nov. 3, she said during a debate with former Gov. Paul LePage that she had been receiving thank you notes “every day” since the checks went out.
Here’s what Mills said:
“If you don’t think it was a good idea, talk to the people who’ve written me. Every day I get cards and letters. A woman from Newburg the other day who finally can put snow tires on her car before winter. People who are paying for their prescription drug co-pays finally. People paying the grocery bill now. Putting oil in their tank, putting gas in their cars.”
Mills appears to be embellishing reality.
According to records provided by the Mills administration, Mills actually received just a handful of thank-you notes from June 2, when the checks first started going out, until Nov. 3, when she spun the yarn about piles and piles of thank you cards and letters.
Over that 154-day span, Mills received ten letters and four emails thanking her personally for the checks. Put differently, less than 0.002 percent of check recipients penned a letter to Mills.
The woman from Newburgh appears to be a fabrication, as none of the thank you letters provided by the Mills Administration show anyone mentioning snow tires. The claim about prescription drugs also appears to be invented. (Although, it’s possible these people thanked Mills in person, not in writing, and she was just confused.)
The thank-you notes Mills did receive also provide a fascinating window into the Democratic clientele state in Maine.
“I personally want to thank you for the $850 you gave to me and other Mainer’s (sic),” one person wrote on Aug. 25, in reference to the return of overtaxed monies.
“I hope Trump ends up in prison for what he has done,” the letter writer adds.
Another person was grateful to have the overtaxed dollars returned to them so that they could pay their property taxes: “I want to thank you for the recent stimulus money. I recently retired and I thank God and now Gov. Mills for the opportunity to wake up every morning and walk our 100 acre woods/fields. The relief checks received went toward paying our property tax and it truly helped us.”
“I am exceedingly grateful for your kindness, Governor” another woman wrote.
Another grateful voter said he wasn’t sure whether he’d be able to receive the payment on account of being disabled.
“Not many in disabled knew that they could get this still.. trust me this would get you sht load of votes if every one knew…”
One thank you note that was not mentioned during the debate: “Just a quick note to thank you for the bribe I received in the mail in the form of a “COVID Disaster Relief Payment”. I’m still voting for Paul LePage this fall.”