By Michael R. Shannon
This summer we have an interesting contrast between first ladies at the state government level.
Ann LePage, wife of Maine Gov. Paul LePage is waiting tables, while Maureen McDonnell, wife of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, is waiting to see if she can avoid going to jail.
The other difference is how members of the political class achieve their desires.
Ann has her heart set on owning a new Toyota RAV 4 and she's getting it the old fashioned way — by earning the money. Ann is working at McSeagull's where according to WGME she's hoping to average the same $28/hr. her daughter earned last summer. On an annual basis that's $58,240 a year – far in excess of the $15/hr. "living wage" that produces only $31,200 and penalizes initiative. The amount is even close to her husband's state salary of $70,000.
LePage is charmingly unpretentious and obviously doesn't suffer from a Hillary–sized ego. I've been peering intently at all the photos accompanying the coverage and can't find a single state trooper or other "security detail" member lurking in the background.
It's only Ann bustling from table to table.
I'm sure this strikes many as too bourgeois for words. A governor's wife working in a tourist trap instead of a "think tank" or corporate "community outreach" was obviously so novel it interested the Washington Post.
The next thing you know that wacky Ann will be browsing the aisles at the Dollar Store.
A smart political operator — a "two for the price of one" first lady — would've started the LePage Foundation to "make the world a better place." Initial contributions could have gone to buy something more fitting for a governor's wife, say a nice black Mercedes SUV, so Ann, as foundation president, could have a stylish way to get around town.
Instead she's now one of the state's 10,000 seasonal employees and hoping McSeagull's owners don't pull a Trump and replace her with H–2B visa worker from Carjackistan.
I'd like to think Ann is sincere in wanting to work and not engaged in a domestic drama, but it is a fact husband Paul has pushed for a higher salary. He was either feeling the economic pinch or the status pinch, because the mister proposed giving himself an $80,000 raise.
In Virginia the governor makes $175,000, but even that isn't enough for some.
Take Maureen McDonnell. She had a wish list, too, but her tastes were more upper crust, preferring Bergdorf Goodman and Rolex to Toyota and the "Lobster Chicken Bomb." Maureen's sweating out a jail sentence because she decided to get her goodies the old backroom way by swapping political influence for money.
During only one term as first lady, Maureen persuaded an "old family friend" dating back to a few days before the inauguration — to give her and the McDonnell brood almost $200,000.00.
The Post has the totals:
Maureen raked in this amazing total and didn't have to replace a single insole, so take that Ann!
Of course in prison they supply the shoes, so Maureen still won't be buying Dr. Scholl's even if the appeal is unsuccessful.
Not all political wives and politicians have Ann Leave's strong moral compass, so here's some advice for those tempted to keep up with the Trumps by accepting favors from "old friends" whose arrival coincided with your election.
Your life may not be as lavish, but on the other hand you won't be sharing a toilet with Maureen McDonnell:
Meanwhile let's close on Laurie Green's thoughts regarding Ann LePage as told to AP, "I really hate a lot of our politicians nowadays that have the wealth, the money. They have no clue what the average person out in the world is doing."
But Ann does.
Michael R. Shannon is a public relations and advertising consultant with corporate, government and political experience around the globe. He is a dynamic and entertaining keynote speaker. He can be reached at mandate.mmpr (at) gmail.com. He is also the author of Conservative Christian's Guidebook for Living in Secular Times (Now with added humor!).