WINSLOW — State Sen. Zachary Matthews, D-Winslow, on Thursday blasted his Republican opponent, Rene Laliberty, for allegedly accepting contributions from a political action committee that is largely financed by an Alabama-based professional strikebreaking firm. The firm of BE&K imported hundreds of replacement workers to take the jobs of Maine workers during the recent strike at International Paper Co. in Jay. According to Matthews, Laliberty accepted $100 from the Associated Builders and Contractors PAC, which reported receiving a total of $5,250 for the last reporting period, $5,000 of that amount coming directly from BE&K.
“To me there is nothing lower than an individual who travels from state to state, from strike to strike, for the purpose of taking another person’s job,” said Matthews. “That’s exactly what a professional strikebreaker does. And now my opponent is taking money from a PAC largely financed by the professional strikebreakers who put hundreds of Maine people out of work.”
Matthews said that he knew Laliberty accepted the contribution a week or so ago, but decided not to say anything, allowing Laliberty time to reconsider and give the money back. On Oct. 22, Senate President Charles P. Pray wrote to Laliberty, urging him to return the money. Two days later, Laliberty reportedly wrote Pray that he would consult with the State Ethics Commission and “will abide with the outcome of their review.”
“My opponent’s response to Senator Pray indicates that he sees nothing wrong with accepting money from an Alabama firm that took jobs away from hundreds of Maine people. I am sorely disappointed,” said Matthews. “There is nothing illegal about his accepting this contribution. It is rather a question of sensitivity and concern about Maine workers and their families,” he said.