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Another Sterling Gibbons Appointment

Jim Gibbons is destined to go down in history as the “Governor Who Couldn’t Appoint Straight.”

This afternoon the Guv’s office excitedly announced the selection of Dann Lewis as the new Director of the Nevada Commission on Tourism (NCOT). “I believe Mr. Lewis’ experience and ideas are key attributes that will help him bring effective leadership to the NCOT,” Gibbons said in a press release.

The release also pointed out that Mr. Lewis “has held leadership roles in various Maine state agencies such as acting-Commissioner and Director of Tourism for the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development.” In addition, we learned from the release that Mr. Lewis “was one of the primary marketers for the famed ‘I Love New York’ campaign.”

And now for….the rest of the story.

You see, there were a few things left out of that press release.

“Dann Lewis has been fired by the Maine board of tourism,” wrote blogger Shel Israel on January 28, 2007. “And it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving person, if you ask me.”

Uh-oh. Here we go again.

“(Maine) State tourism director, Dann Lewis, who had been under fire the last year for several public relations gaffes, has been replaced with a personal friend and political advisor of Governor John Baldacci,” reported the Mount Desert Islander on February 2, 2007.

“Mr. Lewis, who was appointed by former Gov. Angus King, ran into trouble last year after he tangled with a blogger from Searsmont, who complained the state was outbidding local chambers for prime advertising spots on the Internet,” the MDI continued.

“Lance Dutson of Maine Coast Design waged an online campaign against the Office of Tourism and its New York ad agency, which eventually sued him for defamation and trade libel. That turned into a national story before the suit was finally dropped.”

Israel noted that “to silence Lance’s persistent charges of wrongdoing, Dann Lewis, the state tourism director tried all sorts of intimidation tactics, including calling up Lance’s wife’s boss.”

Hey, at least he didn’t try to TEXT the guy’s wife!

Anyway, after Dann’s ouster, Dutson wrote the following in his blog….

“Last April, (Maine Tourism Director Dann) Lewis’s ad company, Warren Kremer Paino Advertising, filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit in Federal court against me. This lawsuit was dropped in embarrassment approximately 8 days after we went public with the news…

“At the time, Lewis and the Baldacci Administration denied state involvement. But because I was allowed to continue digging into the corruption of Dann Lewis’s tourism office, I was able to uncover documents….that clearly showed the state’s role. I was also able to uncover a handful of sharply unethical and potentially illegal activities that Lewis and his wife were engaged in.

“The upshot? As a result of the abject corruption uncovered since the lawsuit fiasco, Dann Lewis was outright fired from his position with the state. A twelve-year accumulation of favors and political payback ultimately proved too little to prevail against the power average citizens are coming to realize in this new media landscape.”

Oh, Lordy be! Say it ain’t so, Joe!!

There was also a little brouhaha over that “I Love New York” campaign. Seems that while serving as Maine’s tourism director, Lewis and his wife were driving around in an SUV bearing the license plate “ILOVENY.” Blogger Dutson exposed this little item, as well.

“If there’s one person in the entire state (of Maine) who shouldn’t have an ‘I love New York’ plate, it’s the director of tourism,” he said in an Associated Press interview back in September 2006.

Lesson: Don’t mess with bloggers.

Welcome to Nevada, Mr. Lewis!