AUGUSTA, Maine — Dan Demeritt, the director of communications for Gov. Paul LePage, resigned Saturday one day after it became public that he is facing foreclosure on five buildings.
Demeritt, who has served as a spokesman for LePage since the Republican’s gubernatorial campaign, said in a statement released by the governor’s office that he needs to focus on his financial problems.
“I have several unresolved business issues that need my immediate and direct attention,” Demeritt said. “I am resigning from Gov. LePage’s staff to attend to these matters. I wish the governor and his staff complete success.”
The brief statement from the governor’s press secretary, Adrienne Bennett, said “Governor LePage and his staff wish Mr. Demeritt the best with his future endeavors.”
The Sidney resident is facing foreclosure proceedings on three apartment buildings in Randolph — one of which was destroyed in a fire last weekend — as well as on a home and his pizza restaurant in Augusta.
Demeritt has said in previous news accounts that his financial problems began about 2½ years ago when he purchased other properties by leveraging the value of his existing properties. But then the recession hit, sales at the two pizza shops he owned in Augusta dropped dramatically, and he struggled to maintain steady tenants in his apartments. He sold one of his pizza restaurants last year.
Recent statistics show that Demeritt is far from alone in his financial problems. While the economy appears to be recovering, the number of residential mortgages in foreclosure in Maine increased slightly during the last quarter of 2010, according to the Maine Bureau of Financial Institutions, which tracks foreclosure rates at state-chartered banks.
Demeritt and Bennett have served as the two public faces of the LePage administration during its turbulent first three months in office, although lately Demeritt has played a more behind-the-scenes role. His wife, Martha, also works in state government.
Demeritt’s past political jobs have included working as communications director for the Maine House Republicans and various roles with U.S. Sen. Susan Collins.
Fire investigators have not said how the April 9 fire in Randolph was set. Stephen McCausland, spokesman for Maine’s Department of Public Safety, said Saturday that no one has been charged in connection with the fire.