By now most Mainers have heard about the scandal surrounding Maine Senate President Troy Jackson, the top lawmaker in Maine and first in line to succeed the Governor in case of a vacancy. Jackson is right now under preliminary investigation by the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices, and may be facing investigations from the Maine Attorney General, the Maine Bureau of Insurance, and the U.S. Attorney of Maine.
Has Jackson violated Maine’s Constitution, committed mortgage application fraud, insurance fraud, wire fraud, and mail fraud?
It certainly looks like the answer to at least some of those questions is yes, judging by court records and mortgage documents that have been available to the public for three weeks now thanks to reporting from the Maine Wire.
More of the Maine Wire’s coverage on the Troy Jackson scandal:
- Payments to Troy Jackson for Travel, Lodging Nearly Doubled After He Bought Home in Augusta, Totaled $160k from 2019-2023
- The Mortgage Broker Troy Jackson Threw Under the Bus Denies Wrongdoing: “Something seems a little fishy here”
- Maine’s Governor Mills Says Ethics Commission Will Decide Senate President Troy Jackson’s Fate
- Troy Jackson Admits: He “Never Really Read” FHA Mortgage Doc He Signed and Failed to Satisfy
- Ethics Complaint Against Troy Jackson Officially Filed Over Residency Requirement Violation, Potential Fraud
- “Insurance Fraud is Not a Victimless Crime”: Senior House Republican Calls for Mills Admin to Investigate Troy Jackson’s Insurance Practices
But those are matters for the Ethics Commission, Attorney General Aaron Frey, Insurance Superintendent Timothy Schott, and U.S. Attorney Darcie McElwee to determine.
The part of the scandal now engulfing Jackson’s ignominious career in Maine politics that hasn’t gotten as much attention is the role of lobbying giant Preti-Flaherty.
For those who don’t know, Preti-Flaherty is a massive Portland-based law firm with an office a stone’s throw from the State House, and tentacles into almost every piece of business before the State Legislature.
As a result, the firm has a substantial interest in fostering a cozy relationship with powerful lawmakers who hold the purse strings in Augusta, lawmakers like Senator Jackson.
Given that dynamic, it’s noteworthy that Preti-Flaherty is the law firm that has represented Jackson for nearly four years in his bizarre lawsuit against an elderly Maine couple he is accusing of selling him a defective house in Augusta.
It emerged from that lawsuit that Preti-Flaherty is representing Jackson on a contingency fee basis. That is, Jackson has paid nothing — zero, zilch, nada — for four years of legal services, including demand letters, civil complaints, responses to counterclaims, an anti-SLAPP motion, and more.
Preti-Flaherty will only get compensated for all their legal work on Jackson’s behalf in the unlikely event that he wins the lawsuit. And even then, Preti-Flaherty can only reasonably expect to recoup a small slice of the $5,000 or $6,000 Jackson could conceivably win.
How much is four years of legal services from one of Maine’s top law firms worth? Certainly more than a few grand.
But Jackson gets the best lawyers basically for free when he wants to harass elderly Mainers with a frivolous complaint over a house he sold for a sweet capital gain of more than $100,000.
On the other hand, Paul and Jane Godbout, the couple Jackson is suing, say they’ve paid out $30,000 of their own money defending themselves against Jackson. One wonders: why aren’t high-powered lawyers lining up to defend the Godbouts? Perhaps it has something to do with their lack of official titles and legislative power.
Everyone is entitled to legal representation, of course, and Preti-Flaherty is free to represent whomever they please for whatever price they choose. But Mainers are also free to question whether Preti-Flaherty is offering these near-free legal services to the Senate President in exchange for access to the Legislature’s most powerful lawmaker.
Residents of Allagash, where Jackson claims to be a resident, likely have difficulty grabbing Jackson’s ear, considering he spends most of his time, by his own admission, in Augusta, 280 miles from his district, where he, by his own admission, leases an apartment. But you can bet the rent money that the lobbyists at Preti-Flaherty always have their calls answered when they need to tell Jackson how they’d prefer the Senate conduct its business.
It probably doesn’t hurt, either, that in 2018 and 2019 Preti-Flaherty had the remarkable fortune to hire Jackson’s son, Chace Jackson. Although that little piece of Chace’s resume has disappeared from his LinkedIn page, the half-dozen legislative updates he produced for the firm over two years as a “legislative liaison” can still be found online. I’m sure Chace has never gotten a paid gig just because his old man happens to control the State Senate…
Nothing about this arrangement is against the law. But that’s part of the problem in Maine politics, isn’t it? The culture of corruption so thoroughly stains the corridors of the State House that members of the political class barely notice it. Augusta is filled with what can charitably be called hacks — dimwits who got taxpayer-funded jobs, and pensions, thanks to political connections rather than any discernible talent or ability to provide value.
The consequence of this crooked politics is that the narrow interests of well-paid lobbyists and compromised politicians take precedence over the people of Maine. That results in your hard-earned tax dollars flowing to corporate welfare, the Nanny State Non-Profit Industrial Complex, and myriad other boondoggles that allow the politically connected to line their pockets. They get the gold, you get the shaft.
Speaking of gold, how refreshing it’s been to see Democrat politicians at the national level call for Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) to resign. All it took was a second major and well-substantiated allegation of corruption and bribery. The man literally traded gold bars for military secrets. But at least Democrat officials in the DC swamp appear willing to police their own party.
Though Jackson’s apparent troubles don’t involve bribery – that we know of – it’s still noticeable how silent every Democrat office-holder in Maine has been. Not one has been willing to comment on the allegations against Jackson. Perhaps the tug of omerta is too strong. Or perhaps they’ve got a few skeletons in their own closets they’d rather not see exposed to the light of day.
Whether Jackson has violated the Maine Constitution or federal law will be determined by the relevant law enforcement entities. That is, if they are curious enough and not too compromised to probe a powerful Democrat. But whether Maine will continue to tolerate the stench of dirty politics emanating from the Augusta swamp will ultimately be up to voters.
Next year’s election is more than a year away, but Mainers would do well to remember Troy Jackson — and all the Democrat politicians who have enabled him for decades.