(UPDATED) Breaking: LePage Met “Multiple Times” with FBI Known Domestic Terrorist Group, Discussed Executing Democratic Leaders
(UPDATE) Before even hitting “send” on this draft write-up, there have been new developments of note (“LePage denies he discussed ‘executing’ Maine Democratic leaders”), as LePage has this evening called the managing editor of the Bangor Daily News- twice- and has either claimed:
- That this all didn’t happen/ portions of it happened.
- There was no five page memo/ well, maybe there was/ well, okay, there WAS a five page memo regarding the legality of arresting and executing members of Democratic leadership.
- He was going to sue both the BDN and Mike Tipping for the story.
Things definitely heating up quickly in Augusta, as a portion of Mike Tipping’s “As Maine Went” was released today implicating Maine Governor Paul R. LePage Sr of meeting multiple times with a known domestic terrorist group and directing his legal staff to investigate the legality of arresting and executing two of his Democratic rivals, Senate President Justin Alfond and Speaker of the House Mark Eves.
Yes- you read that right- “Arrest and Execute”.
- They (Jack McCarthy and Steve Martin, hosts of the Aroostook Watchmen radio show) also had something more locally relevant to talk about: McCarthy’s hour-and-a-half meeting, two days earlier, with Maine Governor Paul LePage.
The meeting with the governor had taken place two days after McCarthy and a group of fellow conspiracy theorists calling themselves the Constitutional Coalition held a press conference at the State House. They stood behind a podium in the Hall of Flags (just outside LePage’s suite of offices) and announced that the president of the Maine Senate, the speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, and Governor LePage had all violated their oaths and should be removed from office. The group explained that they had submitted a set of “remonstrances” to all three government officials on January 14 accusing them of acting unlawfully and had received no reply. Under their unique interpretation of the Maine Constitution, this meant that all three politicians must surrender their elected offices. The men were there to announce their intention to enforce that judgment.
One of the participants, Constitutional Coalition leader Wayne Leach, made reference to the American Revolution and declared that “hopefully this remonstrance, which uses words, will be sufficient. The weapons, I hope, will not be used.”
When LePage heard that they had been asking for a meeting with him and been denied one by his own staff, he quickly took matters into his own hands to rectify the situation:
This time, however, word of the remonstrances and the press conference made it past the executive office gatekeepers and to the attention of Governor LePage himself. Rather than ignoring the submission and its radical claims, LePage called Merletti at home at 9 a.m. the next morning in order to set up a meeting for that Saturday with members of the Constitutional Coalition. According to a note that Merletti sent to his e-mail list later that day and that was forwarded to LePage and members of his staff, the governor was angry that he hadn’t heard about the remonstrances earlier, and during the call he pledged to fire any staffers found to have been keeping the information from him.
From later that month comes this first-hand account of that meeting.
- After nearly a year of Governor Paul LePage being kept away from the Maine Constitutional Coalition, allegedly by the Republicans in Name Only (RINOs) at the Maine Heritage Policy Center, he was finally able to meet with Coalition members.
“After we got into the office, I was so relieved. He was cordial, he was open, frank and expressed frustration that we had so much trouble getting to him and he had so much trouble responding to us,” said Jack McCarthy, co-host of the Aroostook Watchmen radio program on AM780 in Monticello, Maine.“This was not an inquisition into our governor,” said McCarthy. “It was not, ‘we’re going to hold you accountable and this is what you did wrong.’ That was not the purpose of this Remonstrance. The purpose of this Remonstrance was to delineate the abuses of the Constitution and demand a resolution.”
Wayne Leach confirmed the multiple meetings:
- Leach, who was reached Monday night at his home in Winslow, confirmed that he and other members of the Constitutional Coalition met privately seven or eight times last year with LePage.
Leach said his group reached out to a number of state officials – including Alfond and Eves – but LePage was the only one who agreed to sit down with them and who would listen to their grievances. He said the governor listened to their concerns and “was on base with us” for several weeks.
Those meetings ended “abruptly” in August or September on the advice of the governor’s lawyers, according to Leach.
“Eventually he shut us off and we came to a dead end,” Leach said.
Here’s what the FBI says about these “sovereign citizens”.
- The FBI considers sovereign-citizen extremists as comprising a domestic terrorist movement, which, scattered across the United States, has existed for decades, with well-known members, such as Terry Nichols, who helped plan the Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, bombing. Sovereign citizens do not represent an anarchist group, nor are they a militia, although they sometimes use or buy illegal weapons. Rather, they operate as individuals without established leadership and only come together in loosely affiliated groups to train, help each other with paperwork, or socialize and talk about their ideology. They may refer to themselves as “constitutionalists” or “freemen,” which is not necessarily a connection to a specific group, but, rather, an indication that they are free from government control. They follow their own set of laws. While the philosophies and conspiracy theories can vary from person to person, their core beliefs are the same: The government operates outside of its jurisdiction. Because of this belief, they do not recognize federal, state, or local laws, policies, or regulations.
Upon initial news of the book’s excerpts, Senate President Justin Alfond (D-Cumberland) and Speaker of the House Mark Eves (D- N. Berwick) today issued the following statements as part of a joint press release:
- Legislative Leaders Condemn LePage’s Meetings with Domestic Terrorists
During meetings, Sovereign citizens discussed “arrest and execution” of Alfond, Eves
AUGUSTA— Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland and House Speaker Mark Eves of North Berwick released the following statements in response to reports that Governor Paul LePage met with and encouraged the Sovereign Citizens, a domestic terrorist movement, associated with violence against public officials nationally.
According to published excerpts of As Maine Went, a new book from Maine blogger and author Mike Tipping, reveals that LePage met with the group eight times for up to three hours. Tipping says, “The central topic of conversation for most of the meetings was the sovereigns’ “remonstrances,” documents they said gave them the authority to arrest and execute Maine House Speaker Mark Eves and Senate President Justin Alfond for treason. LePage indulged and supported the sovereign’s beliefs. He allowed them to present a number of conspiracy theories, told them he agreed with their interpretation of state law, promised to publicize their beliefs, discussed with them the arrest and hanging of Eves and Alfond and brought in Sheriff Randall Liberty to pursue their case, among other actions.
“It is disturbing and irresponsible for Governor LePage to have ongoing meetings with people who are dangerous and known to be domestic terrorists,” said Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland. “We have zero tolerance for threats of violence, whether on the playground or at the State House. And instead of shutting it down, Governor LePage entertained their delusional thoughts and gave these people a voice.”
According to Tipping’s report, Governor LePage began meeting with the Sovereign Citizens during his campaign and held his first meeting about the remonstrances on February 2, 2013. The eighth and final meeting between LePage and the Sovereign Citizens was held on September 14, 2013. Governor LePage rebuffed repeated requests by the Senate President and House Speaker to meet for the first three months they held office. In total, the leaders have met with the Governor only 11 times in two years.
The Sovereign Citizens came to the Offices of the Senate President and Speaker of the House on multiple occasions during the Legislative Session to deliver remonstrances and delivered them to their private homes. The authorities, including Capitol Police and the FBI, were notified immediately by legislative staff members on those occasions.
The governor’s office then tried to dismiss today’s news as part of LePage’s ongoing discussions with constituents, but were unwilling to clarify as to why the group met with the governor eight times, nor allegations that the group called for the arrests and executions of Democratic legislative leaders:
In a prepared statement, the governor’s press secretary Adrienne Bennett, said that LePage has met with “hundreds of Mainers hearing thousands of ideas, concerns and suggestions.” She added, that “hearing those ideas during constituent meetings does not translate to the Governor endorsing the ideas of others.”
“The Governor meets also with lawmakers, including Sen. Alfond and Speaker Eves,” Bennett said. “Those meetings do not constitute agreement with their views, as well. Lawmakers and constituents do not speak for the Governor.”
Bennett did not address why LePage met with the group eight times, why a county sheriff was asked to look into their demands or why the governor’s legal staff was asked to draft an opinion of the group’s claims that Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland, and House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, should be arrested and executed.
It’s now “Defcon 5 Damage Control Time” for the Maine Republican Party, as they find themselves in the spin cycle and about to go through in the wringer!
Top of the order for Team LePage, as newly minted campaign spokesman Alex Willette came out swinging and in his first at-bat, clumsily fouled it off his own foot:
- Alexander Willette, a spokesman for LePage’s campaign, dismissed Tipping and his book, saying the campaign would not respond to the book’s claims.
“We are not going to respond to the dribbling out of off-the-wall attacks from a shadowy left-wing special interest group,” said Willette, a state representative from Mapleton and assistant House Republican leader who is not seeking re-election in 2014. “This book is just a ploy for attention from the author, who seems desperate to pull the wool over the people’s eyes and sell more of his books.”
No Batter, No Batter, S-W-I-I-I-N-G, Batter!!!
Next up- David Sorensen attacked Tipping/ Maine People’s Alliance by retweeting an obscure reference… (assist by Jason Savage)
— Rufus King (@RufusKingGuy) June 30, 2014
Bunt- didn’t even get out of the batter’s box! Sorensen decided to evoke some Eliot Cutler…
— David Sorensen (@DSorensenME) June 30, 2014
Swing anna miss; that’s Strike 2 for Sorensen! So he next went after former Maine Governor John Baldacci…
— David Sorensen (@DSorensenME) June 30, 2014
And… Strike 3; yer outta here!
Next up, Jason Savage, captain of the Maine GOP team:
If only libs doing 'guilt by association' attacks on LePage would apply same rule to Obama and some of our foreign "allies". #mepolitics
— Jason Savage (@jsavage207) June 30, 2014
Neat work here by Prof. Amy Fried, who easily caught that pop-up and ended the inning.
— Amy Fried (@ASFried) July 1, 2014
This is a still-evolving story and will be updated as needed.