Lauren LePage's LinkedIn profile says she's interested in "career opportunities" and "business deals." And boy, did she get them. The recent college grad, 22, has hit the mother lode. More accurately, she's hit the father lode.
Tea Party candidate Paul LePage narrowly won the governorship of my state last month. He hasn't taken office yet, but he's already made at least one executive decision that reveals how serious he is about upholding ethics standards and cutting government spending:
Gov.-elect Paul LePage has appointed his daughter, Lauren, to a staff position within the upper echelon of his administration, members of the LePage transition team said Wednesday. Lauren LePage, 22, will serve as assistant to the governor’s chief of staff, John McGough — a position that administration officials describe as entry-level and is commensurate with her experience, work history and education. LePage, a recent college graduate, will be a salaried political appointee earning approximately $41,000 a year.
Lauren LePage studied something medical (I wasn't able to learn exactly what), so she graduated in a field that appears to have zero relevance to the nice government job she just landed.
That means she has the wrong background and no experience. Yet her salary is more than double that of the average Mainer, all the more impressive because of her age and her essentially blank employment history. To be fair, we have to take the market value of her degree from Florida State University into account (unrelated though it is to her job). However, that still means she's getting paid at least $10K over the going rate. $41,000 is roughly what a Mainer with a master's degree makes — after five years on the job.
By most accounts, the LePages have gotten pretty good at grabbing the long end of the stick. That degree from Florida State? Lauren LePage (or rather, her parents) received a generous discount on her tuition because Paul and Ann LePage bought a home in Florida. Ann then claimed it as her primary residence, enabling Lauren to go to university while taxpayers footed a big part of the bill. At the same time, Paul and Ann LePage engaged in illegal double-dipping by claiming both properties as homestead exemptions on their tax returns. When that came to light, a few months ago, a spokesman explained that it was a "paperwork error." Fine.
But the hiring of inexperienced family members at much-bigger-than-usual salaries is surely no paperwork error. It indicates the makings of an imperial governing style that is galling enough if it's perpetrated by the Great Democrat Cronyism Machine in Chicago. When it's done by a Tea Party poobah who ran on promises of small government and fiscal responsibility, however, the stench of hypocrisy actually overpowers the stink of the "merely" improper and unethical.
Look, I don't begrudge Lauren LePage her nice new paycheck (assuming she's bright and hard-working). I don't even begrudge her the fancy digs she's moving into with her parents: Blaine House, a palatial mansion paid for by the state, where she'll save an additional $8,000 to $15,000 annually because she doesn't have to pay for a roof over her head. I'm not miffed that my taxes are helping keep a young lady gainfully employed and off the street. But it's perfectly clear she would have none of these advantages if her last name wasn't LePage. And it's more than plausible that LePage Sr., who won the election by a nose, would have gone down in defeat if he'd had the honesty to announce two months ago who'd be among his hires.
Question: Do I still get to feel betrayed even though I didn't vote for him?