AUGUSTA, Maine — Three members of former Gov. Paul LePage’s inner circle will lead the resurgence of the political nonprofit that grew from the Republican’s transition to office in 2010.
Julie Rabinowitz has been named director of policy and communication at Maine People Before Politics, and Michael Hersey will serve as director of operations. Brent Littlefield, LePage’s longtime political consultant, will serve as the group’s media adviser.
LePage, who moved to Florida after he left office in early January, will “lead MPBP in an advisory capacity” as its honorary chair, but he will not be employed there, according to a prepared statement from the organization.
Since then, LePage has frequently teased that he would run for governor in 2022. The group is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, so it can’t officially participate in campaigns or advocate for or against candidates. But it can raise unlimited amounts of money, it doesn’t have to disclose donors and it can amplify conservative messages whether or not the former governor runs again.
Rabinowitz was LePage’s last press secretary, and Hersey — one of LePage’s top political allies since his 2010 run — directed business and innovation for the Department of Economic and Community Development under LePage. He previously worked in 2016 for a conservative political action committee known as ICE PAC.
The new hires are part of the organization’s effort to rebrand, Rabinowitz said Thursday in an email. “Right now we are still building capacity, but the goal is to develop a larger organizational structure and bring more staff over time to focus on issues related to growing Maine’s economy,” she said.
The group is actively raising money, Rabinowitz said, and “will be working on growing our outreach capabilities over the next few months.”
Maine People Before Politics has to disclose assets to the IRS and they dwindled from just over $193,000 in 2015 to less than $37,000 in 2017. The group was largely dormant during LePage’s final years in office and most visible during a tense 2015 budget fight.
It began as LePage’s transition team as he took office in 2011, and the group has been led by his daughter, Lauren LePage, and Jason Savage, current executive director of the Maine Republican Party, at different times.