Wondering where Gov. Paul LePage rang in the New Year?
A cozy evening at the Blaine House with family and friends?
Try the Big Easy.
On New Year’s Day the governor spent some time with New Orleans Saints owner and big-time GOP donor Tom Benson. Benson invited LePage and his family to attend the Jan. 1 tilt between the Saints and Carolina Panthers.
Before the game, the governor spent some time on the field of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, taking pictures as the players went through warm-ups. LePage then took in the game from Benson’s private suite.
So how did LePage and Benson meet?
According to Adrienne Bennett, the governor’s spokeswoman, Benson occasionally takes his yacht, the Lady Gayle Marie (pictured), to Boothbay Harbor during the summer. Back in June, Benson met with LePage, on the Lady Gayle Marie, to discuss a “boat tax” issue.
Bennett wasn’t sure of the details of the tax issue. However, in 2010 there was outcry among out-of-state yacht owners over the state’s assessment of a use tax on repairs done here. According to a 2010 story in the Bangor Daily News, one yacht owner complained to Maine Revenue Services sent him a $60,000 tax bill after he spent $100,000 on repairs to his 72-foot luxury yacht.
It’s unclear if Benson’s discussion with LePage addressed the use tax. A quick scan of the bills and legislative requests didn’t show any forthcoming legislation.
Nonetheless, Benson is a good guy to know for LePage to know. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Benson is a six-figure donor to Republican congressional candidates, the Republican National Committee, GOP presidential candidates and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
Update: According to LePage’s spokeswoman, Adrienne Bennett, the governor paid for the New Orleans trip. Oh, and he’s a N.Y. Giants fan. - S.M.