Demeritt departs under fire

Posted Wednesday, April 20, 2011 in News

Demeritt departs under fire

Dan Demeritt, recently resigned as LePage administration's communications director.

by Gina Hamilton

AUGUSTA – Dan Demeritt resigned on Saturday as Gov. Paul LePage's communications director, yet another in a long series of distractions for the LePage administration.

“I have several unresolved business issues that need my immediate and direct attention. I am resigning from Governor LePage’s staff to attend to these matters.  I wish the governor and his staff complete success,” Demeritt said.

Demeritt is contending with a series of foreclosure actions against him with regard to five properties in Randolph and Augusta, one of which was destroyed April 9 in an arson fire. No one has yet been charged with that crime, although one of the tenants was charged with domestic violence.

Demeritt has said that he believes his financial troubles stem from his leveraging of his residential rental properties to buy additional properties two years ago. Between that business decision and a loss of income to his pizza business, he found himself in financial straits. He and his wife, Martha Currier-Demeritt, also owe back taxes and municipal liens on several properties, to the tune of $6,974.62.

Demeritt's salary as director of communications and legislative affairs was $81,536 a year, plus benefits. Martha Currier-Demeritt, an executive secretary to the attorney general, earns $52,041.60 annually, plus benefits, according to the Maine Bureau of Human Resources. 

While anyone can get into financial hot water, especially during a recession, Demeritt's actions as the housing market was collapsing were curious, to say the least, especially for a Colby College graduate with an MBA from the University of Southern Maine.

In 2008, Demeritt leveraged his existing rental stock to purchase new buildings. He currently owes the bank and a second mortgage to an individual $557,619.76. When he got into trouble, he didn't respond to the foreclosure notices. According to him, it is because he was in conversation with Savings Bank of Maine's special asset division. According to the bank's lawyer, Richard Currier, it is not unusual for people to simply walk away from a bad mortgage.

"Sometimes people don't even contest the issue," he said. He went on to say that Demeritt is not alone – there are many cases of foreclosure filed against landlords in many parts of the state. He cited the economy.

Demeritt said that he could envision a time when he would attempt to go into business in the future. Until then, he said, he will focus on the business problems he is currently facing and try to resolve them.

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