NORTH BERWICK, Maine (AP) — Republican Gov. Paul LePage is being accused again of making racially insensitive comments, this time by saying photos he’s collected of drug dealers arrested in the state show more than 90 percent of them are black or Hispanic.
The governor made the remark Wednesday at a town hall in North Berwick. His comment came after a businessman asked how he could bring a company to Maine, ‘‘given the rhetoric you put out there about people of color,’’ the Portland Press Herald reported (http://bit.ly/2bJ1pHO).
LePage, who’s white, said he keeps a three-ringed binder of photos from drug busts, and most ‘‘are black and Hispanic people from Waterbury, Connecticut; the Bronx; and Brooklyn.’’
Some called his comments racially charged. LePage said during the event that he’s not racist and that he’s concerned that out-of-state drug dealers are bringing heroin into the state.
In January, LePage caused controversy when he said drug dealers with names like ‘‘D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty’’ are getting Maine’s white girls pregnant. He later apologized, saying he meant to say ‘‘Maine women’’ and not ‘‘white women.’’
Rachel Healy, communications director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, said the governor should take the opportunity to combat unconstitutional racial profiling. Democrats were also swift to condemn LePage’s comments.
Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves, who lives in North Berwick, said he was ‘‘disgusted’’ by the governor’s ‘‘racially charged’’ comments in his hometown.
‘‘If the governor is looking for something productive to do with his time, he should focus on ending Maine’s drug crisis by giving law enforcement the resources they need to crack down on drug dealers, help stop addiction before it starts by providing education at an early age, and make treatment services with a proven track record of success available to Mainers suffering from addiction,’’ said Eves, who is a frequent opponent of the governor.
LePage’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday morning. He is in his second term as governor.