Paul LePage’s Binder Full of Drug Dealers is Mostly White People After All
by Alan Pyke –
The part about keeping a binder was true. The rest, not so much.
Flagrantly racist off-hand remarks to the public are something of a hobby for Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R).
But at a meeting in August, LePage alloyed his blanket pronouncements with a hard number, claiming that more than 90 percent of those arrested for selling drugs in his state this year are black or latino.
That’s not true, according to the personal binder LePage maintained on drug arrests, which was obtained and published by the Portland Press-Herald on Monday.
More than half of the mugshots in LePage’s binder are of white people.
The three-ring binder is made up of cut-and-pasted reports from communications staffers and police employees describing drug cases going back to the start of this year.
There are 142 named arrestees or suspects in the 148-page document. There is no accompanying photograph for almost 50 of those names. But of the pictures LePage has collected, 55 percent are white faces, according to a ThinkProgress review.
One in four are black, and the remaining 20 percent are of indeterminate race — in some cases because the quality of the photocopies in the document released to the newspaper is too low, but mostly because race is not an easy thing to tell from a black-and-white snapshot.
The binder also includes some hand-scrawled notes that the Press-Herald says appear to be in LePage’s script. Most are related to the drug cases, but one apparently relates to the Common Core academic curriculum that became a bugaboo for anti-Obama conservatives over the past few years.
Several of the reports list street names like Gudda, and several of the arrested men and women are indeed from out of state. But many are Maine residents. And most are white.
LePage’s spokesman Peter Steele defended the governor by telling the Press-Herald that he’d specifically meant those arrested for selling heroin, as opposed to methamphetamine or cocaine arrests.
That’s not at all what LePage said — “ I’ve been collecting every single drug dealer who has been arrested in our state…[and] 90-plus percent of those pictures in my book, and it’s a three-ringed binder, are black and Hispanic people,” he said in late August — but even if it were the numbers don’t back Steele up.
Exactly 40 percent of the alleged heroin dealers pictured in LePage’s binder are white. About 29 percent are black, and 31 percent are of indeterminate race based on the pictures. Another 24 heroin arrests described in the text contents of the binder do not have any accompanying photographs.
The irascible governor, who has never won a majority of votes cast for the office by Mainers but is now deep into his second term, recently left an expletive-laden voicemail for a Democratic colleague saying he wished he could fight the man for having called him racist.