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Republican gubernatorial candidate curses at reporter

By Associated Press
Tuesday, September 14, 2010 10:58 EDT
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Maine GOP gubernatorial candidate angrily deflects questions about tax exemption

Maine Republican gubernatorial candidate Paul LePage angrily deflected questions about taxes paid on a Florida home at a news conference to present his plan to create jobs in a state he said “desperately needs” more jobs.

After concluding his presentation Monday, LePage was asked several questions about tax exemptions claimed in 2009 on homes in Maine and Florida. In both states, property owners can receive a tax exemption — but only for their primary residence.

The Kennebec Journal reported that LePage’s wife, Ann LePage, claimed permanent residency in both states and could be fined in Florida.

LePage’s campaign described it as a “paperwork error” and LePage declined to elaborate on Monday. Both homes are in his wife’s name.

“I am running for governor, not my wife. I want to talk about the billion-dollar shortfalls we have, and if you guys want to do the Enquirer, I’m not playing,” LePage said.

Fox News 13 reports,

But when questions about the two residences continued at a press conference on Monday, LePage became visibly upset, saying, “Let’s stop the bull— and let’s answer the questions the way they should be answered.”

LePage apologized, saying he never said he was politically correct, but did admit it was an inappropriate word to say.

Later, in an interview with The Associated Press, LePage acknowledged mistakenly claiming property tax exemptions in two states and said he will return the $191 tax credit he received in Maine in hopes of putting the matter to rest.

“It was an error, it was not a big deal,” LePage said. “I’m not going to defraud the state of Maine for $191.”

In a state known for centrist Republicans, including Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, LePage courted conservatives, tea partiers and independents to defeat six other Republicans, winning a spot on the November ballot with Democratic Senate President Libby Mitchell and three independents.

In his job-creation proposal, LePage envisioned what he called an “EZ Pass” strategy that speeds up new business requests and cuts red tape he believes throw up roadblocks to both new businesses and existing businesses that want to expand.

In addition, LePage’s “Turning the Page” plan calls for cheaper costs to set up a new business. The current $145 cost is one of the nation’s highest, and he wants to cut that to a $5 first-step filing fee. He also wants to expand health insurance opportunities for workers in small businesses by reducing coverage costs.

“Maine desperately needs new jobs and we need lots of good jobs,” LePage said.

His opponents dismissed the plan as superficial and lacking new ideas.

Source: AP News

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