Maine Mayor Wants To Publish Names, Addresses Of People On Welfare

A welfare bill so extreme not even Paul LePage likes it.
Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) speaking at a rally in 2012.
Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) speaking at a rally in 2012.
AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty

Robert Macdonald is the mayor of Lewiston, Maine, and he wants everyone to know who's on welfare and where they live.

In a column for a local paper last week, the mayor of Maine's second-largest city proposed an online registry of welfare recipients. He said he would submit legislation to the Maine State Legislature "asking that a website be created containing the names, addresses, length of time on assistance and the benefits being collected by every individual on the dole."

In addition to likely running afoul of federal rules, Macdonald's idea doesn't seem to be getting much local support. Macdonald had sent copies of his legislation to state Sens. Eric Brakey (R) and Nate Libby (D) in hopes they'd introduce it before a Friday deadline, but both offices told The Huffington Post they had passed on the idea.

"I don't think there's that much appetite for this sort of thing in the Maine Senate," Mario Moretto, spokesman for Maine Senate Democrats, said in an interview.

And a spokesman for Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R), who has made cracking down on welfare recipients his signature issue, told the Bangor Daily News the governor's office has no plans to support Macdonald's welfare registry proposal. In the past year LePage has tightened Maine's rules for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, and his administration even supported an ill-fated bill to stop food stamps from being used to buy candy or soda.

Macdonald, who didn't respond to a request for comment for this story, said in his column that "our liberal, progressive legislators and their social-service allies have made them [welfare recipients] a victimized, protected class. It’s none of your business how much of your money they get and spend. Who are you to question it? Just shut up and pay!"

It's not clear if Macdonald is talking about locally administered general assistance, TANF -- the federal program most often called "welfare" -- or also other programs like food stamps and housing subsidies. Macdonald strangely opened his column with a call for a broader overhaul of laws dealing with confidentiality because of "the fear they strike into the average law-abiding citizen."

Macdonald has served as mayor since 2012 and is facing five challengers to his reelection this fall.

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