To paraphrase Shakespeare, something stinks in the state of Maine.
I get that Lewiston shook a lot of people up. It was a horrific tragedy in a state that doesn’t see such things and has long supported gun rights despite leaning leftward on pretty much every other issue. Seeing elected officials flip after something like that doesn’t surprise me.
But if you’re going to flip on the issue, it behooves you to make sure there’s absolutely no chance people will think that flip was somehow paid for in some manner.
Unfortunately, the Maine Senate president failed to do that.
Senate President Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook) has told Democratic activists that he will support gun control legislation he has previously voted against, a flip that comes only after the Maine Gun Safety Coalition hired his son and his former chief of staff to lobby for Second Amendment restrictions.
The payments from Maine Gun Safety Coalition to the Resurgam Group were first reported this weekend by Billy Kobin of the Bangor Daily News.
The Resurgam Group, a Portland-based lobbyist firm, was founded by Jackson’s former Chief of Staff B.J. McCollister, and Jackson’s son Chace is listed as a partner with the firm.
Kobin reported that “there is no evidence the elder Jackson’s posture has changed” since the pro-gun control payments started flowing into his son’s business; however, that’s not entirely true.
Jackson has, in fact, indicated that he is going to make a 180-degree turn on gun control.
Jackson explicitly said that he wanted to revisit some past legislation that didn’t pass, all in hopes of making it so another Lewiston wouldn’t happen again.
Now, it’s possible he’s talking about some bit of mental health legislation or something else, but it’s highly unlikely.
Which is interesting in light of the fact that a gun control group there in Maine has hired the firm his son is a partner at to lobby for them and now Jackson is looking to support gun control.
Look, it’s entirely possible that the two things have nothing to do with one another. Maine Gun Safety Coalition may have hired the firm because they figured it was the best for their needs and Jackson may have decided to revisit his position on guns independently.
But it sure looks funny.
If you’re in politics, it’s vital to do everything you can to make your every action look above-board. Even innocuous stuff. That’s because you have opted to live under a microscope. If you talk your way out of a speeding ticket, it looks shady.
When you signal that you’ll flip on an important issue like guns, the worst shooting in Maine’s history isn’t going to be sufficient to cover that flip if your son is profiting off of the issue.
If he’s long signaled his position and people supporting that hire his son, it doesn’t look nearly as shady.
That’s not what’s happened here, and Jackson really does have a lot to answer for under the circumstances. The only way to avoid even a hint of impropriety is to oppose gun control to the hilt.
Will he do it? We’ll have to see.