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Maine governor cancels meeting with Democrats over cameraman

Governor Paul LePage will not meet with Democratic leaders until the cameraman is removed.

Governor Paul LePage will not meet with Democratic leaders until the cameraman is removed.

PORTLAND, Maine — Governor Paul LePage canceled a meeting with incoming Democratic legislative leaders Tuesday after asking the state Democratic Party to call off a cameraman who has been recording him at his public events.

The Republican governor said he will not meet with Democratic legislative leaders until the cameraman is removed. LePage said that the so-called tracker has followed him for months, but that he has not made an issue of it and it did not bother him until Veterans Day, when he said a private conversation with an elderly veteran in poor health was taped.

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‘‘The people of Maine are not props, and I will not allow these special interest groups to use them to score political points,’’ LePage said in a ­statement.

The Democratic Party said the use of trackers is commonplace, and that its tracker will continue recording LePage during his public appearances.

‘‘Governor LePage promised us the most open and transparent government in Maine history and yet here he is, publicly attacking a man for videotaping his events. What does he have to hide?’’ the party said in a statement. ‘‘If LePage has a problem with his public events being taped or recorded, maybe he should rethink his role in government.’’

Democrats regained control of the House and Senate in ­November’s elections two years after Republicans swept into power in both chambers. ­LePage’s comments help set the tone for the upcoming session, which formally begins Wednesday with the swearing-in of the new Legislature.

Democratic leaders said they were disappointed by ­LePage’s decision to cancel his meeting with them to discuss the state’s fiscal problems. The state Revenue Forecasting Committee says state revenues are lagging behind estimates by $35.5 million this fiscal year, which ends June 30, and by $128 million during the two-year budget cycle, which starts July 1.

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