Maine

Maine Gov. Paul LePage's 'Binder of Drug Dealers' Shows He Was Lying About the Race of Arrestees

Hoisted by his own scrapbook petard.

|

Susi Eggenberger/ZUMAPRESS/Newscom

Maine Gov. Paul LePage claimed last month that he had a three-ring binder showing that 90 percent of the suspected drug dealers arrested in the state were black or Hispanic. The binder, unbelievably, turns out to be real, but LePage's statistics—much more believably, considering the state is almost 95 percent white—do not.

LePage made headlines in August when he declared that "people of color or people of Hispanic origin" were "the enemy" in the drug war. Facing accusations of racism, LePage tried to tamp down the controversy by calling a state lawmaker a "little son of a bitch socialist cocksucker" and claiming he had the statistics to back his comments up.

"Let me tell you this, explain to you, I made the comment that black people are trafficking in our state, now ever since I said that comment I've been collecting every single drug dealer who has been arrested in our state," LePage said at a town hall event in August. "I don't ask them to come to Maine and sell their poison, but they come, and I will tell you that 90-plus percent of those pictures in my book, and it's a three-ringed binder, are black and Hispanic people from Waterbury, Conn., the Bronx and Brooklyn."

In an impressive piece of public records trolling, the Maine ACLU immediately put in a freedom-of-information request for LePage's binder. Lo and behold, it really exists. The governor's office released the contents of the binder—about 150 pages of mostly news clippings and press releases—to the ACLU and media outlets Monday morning.

But the binder doesn't back up LePage's claim. It demolishes it.

According to the the Portland Press Herald:

Of the 93 people pictured in the binder, 37 appear to be either black or Hispanic, or about 40 percent of all the photos, while 56, or about 60 percent, appear to be white […]

His office has repeatedly sought to explain that LePage was specifically referring to out-of-state heroin dealers when he described the race of those arrested, not to dealers in other drugs like methamphetamine, whose photos also are in the binder.

But the photos of the 51 people facing heroin or other opioid drug charges show that only 47 percent, or 24 individuals, appear to be black or Hispanic. The remaining 53 percent, or 27 people, are white. Other press releases in the binder report the names of people charged with heroin trafficking but do not include booking mug shots.

In a statement, Alison Beyea, the executive director of the ACLU of Maine, said that "whether or not [LePage's] assertions were deliberately misleading, they were dangerous and racist."

"The governor has multiple agencies at his disposal that collect arrest data in Maine," Beyea continued. "It is outrageous that he would rely on an incomplete collection of newspaper clippings and emails to make false, inaccurate accusations about people of color. It's time for the governor to stop using people of color as a scapegoat for Maine's drug problem, and to start proposing real solutions based on actual facts."

NEXT: Did a Student Actually Complain That This Harry Potter Mural Was Racist, Sexist, and Ableist?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I sure hope that war on terror works as well as the war on drugs.

    1. The wars on alcohol, poverty, drugs and terror were just the test runs. Now they get to use what they’ve learned in the wars on sex and speech.

      Oh, goodie.

      1. And guns. Don’t forget the guns.

  2. We’re quickly heading towards the Randian world where only the incompetent and the lunatics remain in government.

    1. At least then we can just operate under their stupid noses. The only good thing about bumbling bureaucrats is that they will continue to cling to their stupid boondoggles and the weight of the whole system will make it impossible for these imbeciles to enforce crap.

      In essence, as the blob eats itself, we will be more free to do as we please with the few exceptions of those who are caught. They will be thrown in the stocks in the town square or just shot in the streets unless you can bribe the local law enforcement. Just like any other failed state.

    2. Get rid of pensions for government employees and elected idiots, and watch the interest in “public service” go down.

  3. OMG! A politician wildly exaggerated?! The horror…the horror.

    1. I know, right? The important thing to note is that blacks only make up like what, 15% of the US population? So they’re still per capita much more likely to be drug dealers. So even if the specific facts in this one case aren’t entirely true, it’s drawing attention to a larger problem and getting the right narrative out.

      And no mention of how much worse his democratic opponent would be in the same office? Just another sad sign of the decline of this once reliable magazine.

      1. Well, now you just sound like a little son of a bitch socialist cocksucker.

      2. I surely hope you were attempting to be sarcastic, Gojira, and it just went over my head. But if not, I would like to point out that there is NOT a gene that predisposes people of color to being drug dealers. Choosing to deal in drugs is a product of environment. I believe a much better and accurate narrative to get out there and draw attention to is the failed economic policies of Democrats that have trapped a majority of people of color in a perpetual welfare state and the only way of escape is through athletics, rap songs, or selling drugs.

        1. the only way of escape is through athletics, rap songs, or selling drugs.

          And of those things, selling drugs is the far easier option as the other two require a lot of work and/or natural talent, and few people possess the talent or the work ethic.

          1. I’m gonna make a wager that being successful in a business as close to pure capitalism as possible, where disputes are settled via non-government mediated negotiations or violence, and where your business has to account for the very active and open predations of the state is markedly harder than rapping or sports. Drug dealers are risk tolerant entrepreneurs taking advantage of a government created false scarcity.

            Oh, wait. I forgot the comments are Trumpland. Stupid lazy brown people.

            1. Pure *free market* as it comes. Not capitalism specifically.

        2. Don’t worry, I’m a 10th-level six sigma sarcasm master.

          But seriously there’s a few regular commenters here who are actual racists, and not just the boogeyman racists that inhabit liberals warped delusions of the world.

          1. Okay, there’s Nativist, Racist, and Xenophobe. And there’s…who else?

            I ask because you admonished me for a similar-sort of mind-reading. Perhaps you are just better at it than I am…?

          2. But seriously there’s a few regular commenters here who are actual racists

            I’ve noticed a strange but predictable pattern: everyone who disagrees with me is almost always a racist. Weird, right?

      3. F

        No usage of the words/ phraases “COZMOZ,” “KOCKTAIL PARTIEZ,” or “CUCK FAGGITZ.”

        Also, far too many multi-syllabic words.

        1. I was hoping he’d connect the, “This may not be true, but it’s truthy, and that’s what counts” to the similar claims made by false rape report apologists.

  4. LePage tried to tamp down the controversy by calling a state lawmaker a “little son of a bitch socialist cocksucker”

    It’s too bad he didn’t save that for something where he wasn’t full of shit.

    1. The media need to fact check whether the state lawmaker is in fact a “little son of a bitch socialist cocksucker”.

  5. LePage tried to tamp down the controversy by calling a state lawmaker a “little son of a bitch socialist cocksucker”

    With rhetoric like this, I want to like this guy. I mean, can he just not enforce any of his shitty ideas through laws, but continue to call his political opponents socialist cocksuckers?

    1. He may have a bright future as Howard Stern/ Don Imus like radio shockjock after his political career is finished going up in flames.

  6. He said that the drug dealers were 90%+ black or Hispanic, and they turned out to be only 40% black or Hispanic based on photos (or 47% based on heroin/opiate charges). He was certainly exaggerating, but as the article says, the state is “almost 95% white.” So there is a big racial disparity here, in the direction he said, but it’s hard for me to agree that his point was “demolished” when non-whites are over-represented in those stats by about a factor of ten.

    1. Which kind of makes it extra stupid of him. He could have not wildly exaggerated and then insisted that he wasn’t wildly exaggerating and he would have been making a fair point.

      Though the fact that they are presumably professional criminals from out of state is a lot more relevant than their race. Maybe he should have stuck with that.

    2. Holy crap, I was making a joke up there about what an actual honest-to-god racist would say to this, and then, here you are making that point. I…I don’t know what to say.

      1. #RacistsTooWhite

        1. And why are racists always shown marching and raising their fists?

          I demand more depiction of black crippled genderfluid racists with shell-shock and dropsy.

      2. Have you missed previous episodes of The Papaya SF Show?

      3. Yeah, trying to be fair and even-handed and pointing out valid statistics is just sooooo wrong. Always a sign of hateful thoughts and feelings.

        1. Perhaps you could have tempered your comment’s perceived racism by pointing out that it’s not their race that causes them to become drug dealers but their socioeconomic conditions perpetuated by a failing welfare state that traps them in a cycle of poverty with few options? See Billy Bones’ comment above for a useful template.

          Just spitballin’ here.

          1. True, but I try to avoid weighing down comments with extended explanations like that. The whole point of having a pseudonym for online comments is to be able to talk straight.

            (Which makes the “racism” charge so feeble: if I were a racist, why wouldn’t I be saying things that are clearly racist? Here or somewhere else? It’s just PC bullshit to say what Gojira said, claiming to detect racism when someone discusses statistics.)

            I would like to think that nobody really thinks that I believe that “their race makes them become drug dealers.” I don’t. Obviously there are many economic and cultural factors involved. The point I wanted to make was that the start of the article seemed overblown by claiming that LePage was “lying” and his claim was “demolished.” It seems clear he was indeed exaggerating, but as Ken Schultz points out below, “it’s not a 19x over-representation, only a 8-9x one!” is a pretty sorry-ass demolition job.

          2. How could you possibly know what caused them to be drug dealers? Perhaps we should make sure to make some shit up when the facts sound too icky!

    3. Considering the source is his own binder, the stats don’t prove shit about anything other than that his statement about its contents was false. By this logic, I could compile a binder of news stories of white men committing terrorism, and then use it as proof that white men commit 100% of terrorism.

      1. Nah man – he says he’s ‘been collecting all the reports’. And he’s the *governor* so of course all the Maine’s PD’s are extra diligent about sending him the paperwork on every two bit out-of-towner they bust.

        Someone should also ask him if that binder-full-of-womencriminals is *convicted* or *accused*.

    4. And – in any case its pretty irrelevant. They sell drugs. That shouldn’t be a crime in the first place so I’m not going to count that against them.

      But it is and they don’t have recourse to the courts to settle criminal and civil disputes like we do. So of course they’re going to settle disputes themselves. And using violence to enforce the settlement – well that’s *illegal also* if you happen to not be the state.

      Seems to me that all of Maine’s problems with Dougy Fresh selling his poison and knocking up the white girls are pretty much caused by Maine’s government.

  7. “LePage tried to tamp down the controversy by calling a state lawmaker a “little son of a bitch socialist cocksucker” and claiming he had the statistics to back his comments up.”

    Was the little cocksucking son of a bitch a socialist?

    Of all those things he called the little bitch, the last thing I’d want to be called is a socialist.

  8. The binder is not official stats from the state so God knows what criteria were used to make it; there is no guarantee the binder reflects actual arrest (or conviction) statistics in the state. People claiming that there is a “racial disparity” in arrests — there very well might be — seem to be papering over the opaque subjectivity of the source.

  9. Maine voters have *got* to stop electing Stephen King characters to office.

    1. King doesn’t write fiction – he writes *Maine*.

  10. My Masshole friends always said Maine is the dirty South of the far North. I believe it.

    1. Maine is the people too lazy to be from New Hampshire and too stupid to be Canadians. It’s a state that wouldn’t even exist in the popular imagination at all without Stephen King.

      1. But it’s “Vacationland”.

        They might still be known as the place with the lobsters and lots of pointless coastline.

  11. So 5% of the people in Maine are caucasian. Meanwhile, 40% of all the drug dealers are not caucasian, and 50% of the heroin dealers are not caucasian–and this proves the governor was wrong?

    So, he was wrong about them representing 19 times their proportion of the population. They only sell drugs and heroin at eight to ten times their proportion of the population–and that’s why the people of Maine shouldn’t be worried about them?!

    I’m so glad I’m not a utilitarian. Being a utilitarian must totally suck. Why miss the forest for the trees when you can miss the trees for the branches?

    I’ve got a better argument against racist law enforcement. It says that living in a free society is its own reward, and racist law enforcement is incompatible with a free society.

    Being black is insufficient for probable cause–it isn’t even reasonable suspicion. Take you statistics and shove them, Mr. Governor–black people have rights, and you can’t ignore their individual rights in a free society. That’s what being in a free society means–respecting people’s rights even when it’s inconvenient for the governor to do so.

    Say that to the governor. Don’t quibble about his statistics.

    1. Slightly more than 5% are Caucasian.

    2. So 5% of the people in Maine are caucasian.

      You got that exactly backwards. I suspect you’re missing a “not” in there.

    3. “Meanwhile, 40% of all the drug dealers are not caucasian, and 50% of the heroin dealers are not caucasian”

      *40-50% of the people in LePage’s binder.

      1. Forest = Free society trumps statistics

        Trees = Statistics

        1. You can’t have it both ways Ken. You can’t say “well the statistics show the governor isn’t wrong” and then bitch that people are missing your real point when they correct you. I agree with the point at the bottom of your post. That doesn’t mean the beginning of your post is correct.

          1. Argument 1: The statistics showed that the government is wrong–so what? The statistics are irrelevant. That’s my argument.

            And

            Argument 2: Just because the governor’s statistics were imprecise doesn’t mean his logic was wrong. Saying that the statistics are irrelevant is consistent with Argument 1–not contradictory.

            Example A:

            If I tell you that we should use Player A as our lead-off hitter because his .420 on base percentage is the highest on the team, countering that his on base percentage is actually only .410 isn’t a legitimate argument against using him as the lead-off hitter–not if .410 is still the highest on base percentage of any player on the team.

            Example B:

            If I tell you not to put your hand on the stove because the temperature is 375 degrees Fahrenheit, if you measure the temperature and find that it’s only 350 degrees, that doesn’t mean you should go ahead and put your hand on the stove.

          2. Example C:

            If the governor tells you that we should racially profile blacks and Hispanics because they disproportionately sell drugs and heroin at a rate that’s some 19 times their proportion of the population, countering that they actually only sell drugs at some eight to ten times their proportion of the population–does not mean they don’t sell drugs disproportionately relative to their percentage of the population.

            That objection doesn’t even address the governor’s central argument; in fact, it reinforces the governor’s argument for racism by confirming the disproportionality.

            If a premise’s imprecision doesn’t negate the conclusion of the argument, then the argument’s conclusion is not negated by the imprecision.

            Right?

  12. Hey, LePage… Fuck you for being against minority small businessmen, you anti-capitalist fuckbag.

  13. Only 47 not 90%?! “Demolish” may be in the eye of the beholder here. (Maybe this is because I’ve defended LePage here already, but the fact that there really is a binder seems to be the most sensational part.)

  14. Facing accusations of racism, LePage tried to tamp down the controversy by calling a state lawmaker a “little son of a bitch socialist cocksucker”

    …and that didn’t calm things right the fuck down? Hmmm, shocking.

    Perhaps if he does get booted out of office, he could be President Trump’s Press Secretary (if Trump beats Cankles). He certainly seems to have a way with words.

  15. Governor LePage can’t hope to go further (farther?) in political office if he doesn’t learn how to ignore FOIA requests better than that.

  16. That a state governor in 2016 would actually say that “people of color or people of Hispanic origin” were “the enemy” in any context is shocking. That he would call a state lawmaker a “little son of a bitch socialist cocksucker” makes me think of Duterte in the Philippines. This guy has to go. Nevertheless, I’m curious: if you look only at people arrested for dealing heroin (and not other drugs, even other opiates), do the figures at all bear out his racial claims? I doubt it, and of course that is not what he originally said. If you limit it specifically to people from out of state arrested for selling heroin, then maybe his 90% figure would be accurate, I don’t know. That certainly was not his original claim.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.