Mal Leary

MPBN’s Political Correspondent

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads MPBN's news coverage of politics and government and is based at the State House.

A lifelong journalist and Maine native, Mal has worked as both a reporter and editor in broadcast and in print, in both Washington, D.C. and in Maine. He has won numerous awards for his reporting on state government issues and politics.

For several years he owned and operated Capitol News Service, which was located in the State House complex providing news coverage to radio stations as well as newspapers.

Mal is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters & Editors and has long been an advocate for open government. He is the SPJ Sunshine Chair in Maine and is currently the president of the National Freedom of Information Coalition based at the University Of Missouri Journalism School and is a Vice President of the Maine Freedom of Information Coalition.

Mal is married with three grown children, several grandchildren and lives in Augusta, within sight of the Capitol dome.

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Doug Ashley, ABC News / Flickr/Creative Commons

Even though Maine Republicans supported Ted Cruz in the state presidential caucuses this year, Maine’s delegates to the Republican National Convention say Donald Trump energized them with his acceptance speech. They acknowledge that not everyone in the party is ready to embrace Trump, but they believe he can help elect candidates for state office this fall.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine Attorney General Janet Mills has joined a federal lawsuit to block Anthem's plan to acquire Cigna Corporation for $48 billion. Mills says both are significant insurance providers in Maine.

"Probably more than half the people of Maine who are employed by the largest employers and in the small market, more than half are covered either by Cigna or Anthem, mostly Anthem," Mills says.

Mills warns that the merger would reduce competition and could result in insurance rate increases for Mainers.

AUGUSTA, Maine - U.S Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald had some good news for those attending the annual Maine Military and Community Network conference:  He is extending the pilot ARCH program that allows veterans to get health care locally instead of driving to Togus.

The program was scheduled to end next month.  "So to address that challenge, I used an exception through the choice act to make sure veterans in Maine can continue to use the providers they use through project ARCH."

Among those attending the Republican National Convention this week was U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who returned early to attend a veterans’ conference in Augusta. She says she is still not ready to endorse Donald Trump even though he is now the Republican Party’s nominee for president.

After a rocky start, the special commission charged with recommending improvements to Maine’s education system will get underway this summer.

Beardsley says it was a mistake to ban members of the public, the Legislature and the news media from the commission’s first meeting at the Blaine House. And he says all of the six planned meetings he hopes to schedule through the end of the year will be open.

Earlier this year, at the urging of Gov. Paul LePage, Maine lawmakers created a special commission on education policy. Its charge was to take a broad look at education policy at all levels.

After a shaky first step, LePage cast doubt on the future of the panel. But the commission chair insists it will continue on and offer full access to the public.

For a short time, Maine was one of the states where a majority of delegates to the national GOP convention in Cleveland signed a petition to force a roll call vote on the convention rules, opening the door to a Stop Trump movement.

Supporters of the movement wanted to force the vote so they could eventually change the rules to allow delegates to vote for anyone, not necessarily who they were pledged to vote for on the first ballot.

Maine Attorney General Janet Mills has launched a television ad campaign aimed at reducing prescription drug abuse. Ads, produced by the attorney general’s office in Wisconsin, were adapted to Maine and they will appear on Maine TV stations under an agreement with the Maine Association of Broadcasters.

“Education and public awareness is key to preventing people from getting hooked on drugs,” Mills says. “Once you are addicted to something, chemically, psychologically, we have seen the results.”

Maine Republicans are focused on Cleveland where Donald Trump and Mike Pence are expected to be nominated for President and Vice President this week.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Donald Trump's choice of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate is drawing support from Maine Republicans.

National Committeeman Alex Willette says Pence is well liked by conservatives and has strong political experience as a congressman and governor.

"There is so much speculation on why he chose Mr. Pence," Willette says, "but I think the reality is Donald Trump is the kind of guy that picks somebody he can work with."

AUGUSTA, Maine - The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee has begun hearings on cybersecurity as a national security issue.  The goal is to draft legislation forcing electronic device makers, such as cell phone companies, to allow access to data on the devices.

Maine Sen. Angus King says it's going to be a difficult task. "Basically, we are balancing two provisions of the Constitution: provide for the common defense and ensure domestic tranquility, and the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments. That's what we are trying to do here."

The U.S. Senate has joined the House in passing the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, the major bill this year in Congress aimed at fighting opioid addiction. But while it creates new programs, it is not funded.

The legislation is considered a major step to help cities and states combat the nationwide epidemic of opioid addiction. The measure would expand access to treatment by allowing nurses and physician assistants to administer medication such as Suboxone.

Gov. Paul LePage has again criticized Attorney General Janet Mills over the pace of welfare fraud prosecutions.

He says less than half of the welfare fraud cases sent to Mills by the Department of Health and Human Services have been prosecuted, with more than 50 individual welfare fraud cases still pending.

“Not every case that is sent over to us for prosecution is a viable criminal case,” Mills says in response. “Like any prosecutor, pursuant to your own code of ethics and professional standards, reviews and screens each case separately.”

U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine has joined with a group of bipartisan senators to form the congressional broadband caucus.

He says rural areas need internet access that is fast and dependable.

“Failure to provide broadband to rural areas of America is a death sentence for the communities in those regions,” King says. “They cannot compete economically without access to broadband.”

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