Rep. Mike Michaud pledged to run a positive campaign for governor, but his party leadership and supporters are still using the same old 2010 playbook. They can’t seem to depart from the worn-out script that says, “We win by tearing you down.”
Maine voters rejected these tactics in 2010, and I am sure they will again.
In his Nov. 19 OpEd, Michaud supporter Rep. Jeffrey Evangelos, I-Friendship, digs up some of the same garbage that was thrown at me by Democrats in the 2010 race.
Evangelos refers to me as “a director of a bankrupt mortgage company, Thornburg Mortgage, whose former top executives are facing allegations of fraud” and claims that the mission of my former law firm, Akin Gump, includes “outsourcing jobs to China.” The first statement is misleading. The second is false. (A member of the Maine Legislature’s Ethics Committee, Evangelos ought to be more careful.)
For the record, Thornburg Mortgage was a public company that originated high-quality jumbo mortgages for the most credit-worthy borrowers. It grew to be one of the largest independent originators of mortgages in the United States. I was an outside, independent member of the company’s board of directors.
Thornburg Mortgage didn’t make the kinds of loans that caused the collapse of the credit markets, and it consistently reported one of the lowest rates of delinquencies and defaults of any lender in the United States.
But when U.S. credit markets suddenly seized up in 2008 following the collapse of Wall Street firms like Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, the market value of Thornburg Mortgage’s mortgage-backed securities fell precipitously, even though the securities were fundamentally sound. Unfortunately, like a lot of good companies that went under through no fault of their own in that crisis, Thornburg Mortgage ultimately was forced to declare bankruptcy.
While class-action lawsuits challenging the conduct and decisions of Thornburg Mortgage officers and directors were filed, the claims made against me and the other independent directors were all found to be without merit and were dismissed by federal courts. No other actions or appeals are pending against the outside directors, nor were they or the company itself ever found to have engaged in fraudulent practices.
The only unresolved remaining claim is a Securities and Exchange Commission complaint against three company executives who are alleged to have misled the board of directors, shareholders, underwriters and others. The complaint is an action I encouraged and totally support.
Throughout the entire period, from the first indications of the crisis in the capital markets through the filing of the bankruptcy petition and attempts to reorganize the company, I did not buy or sell any shares of company stock. I did not profit from the demise of Thornburg Mortgage in any way. In fact, I incurred substantial personal losses.
Evangelos also recycles the old lie that I exported jobs to China, another oft-repeated claim from 2010 that has no basis in fact and is something this newspaper called “one of the ugly leftovers of the 2010 election.” In an attempt to support this, he refers to an Akin Gump webpage that never mentions China but talks about helping clients with “outsourcing” in the broadest terms.
I did open and manage for several years Akins Gump’s first office in China. That experience has since helped me open new markets for Maine products in China. But not once have I ever worked for or represented a company that moved operations or exported jobs to China.
In fact, when I was a lawyer in China, most of our business was representing Chinese clients who were investing — and creating jobs — outside China, including in the United States. Indeed, it was Chinese investment in the mill in Baileyville, formerly Domtar, that has kept that mill in business and preserved hundreds of Maine jobs and hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax receipts for Maine communities.
Ironically, while Evangelos attacks Akin Gump, he fails to mention that Michaud took $3,500 in contributions from an Akin Gump PAC in his last three re-election campaigns. I didn’t, haven’t and won’t.
Finally, Evangelos rips one more out of the 2010 playbook — class warfare — claiming that my successes have come “at the expense of common people.” Any success I have achieved has come through a lot of hard work, the values that I learned from my parents and grandparents, and from growing up in Bangor.
I’ve also been lucky. I had the privilege of working for Ed Muskie in my formative years and serving as a senior official in the White House Office of Management and Budget. I’ve helped build successful businesses and law firms. I helped turn around failing businesses and government agencies — all experiences that I believe will make me an effective leader for Maine.
Maine people deserve a campaign based on the facts, one that addresses the challenges facing our state. I hope that one of these days Michaud will join me in actually debating the issues and call back the negative attack dogs that are just doing more of the same old dirty work for him.
Eliot Cutler of Cape Elizabeth is an independent candidate for governor.