Board member facing domestic violence charge to resign after LePage statement

Posted July 19, 2011, at 12:50 p.m.
Last modified July 19, 2011, at 6:27 p.m.

WILTON, Maine — Lawrence E. Dwight Jr., who serves on the state’s Consensus Economic Forecasting Commission, is resigning his post after his arrest Saturday on a charge of domestic assault.

Dwight, 54, better known as J Dwight, a political activist and investment adviser, was arrested at his Wilton home after an incident involving his wife.

Wilton police Sgt. Richard Billian said police were called to Dwight’s residence on Orchard Drive after receiving complaints from neighbors of fighting and arguing.

According to Billian, responding officers said Dwight was intoxicated, and they arrested him on a charge of domestic assault. Billian said there were no physical marks on Dwight’s wife, but that officers determined there was probable cause for the arrest.

Dwight was taken to Franklin County Jail and was released Sunday on $250 bail.

Dwight said Tuesday that the incident was a “complete mistake” and that he expected to be “completely exonerated.”

“As far as I know this will all be resolved and things will be worked out,” he said.

Nonetheless, Gov. Paul LePage moved quickly to call for Dwight’s resignation.

“I expect Mr. Dwight will voluntarily step down from his position while the legal issues regarding his recent arrest are pending,” LePage wrote in a statement. “Domestic violence is a serious crime with far reaching consequences. I don’t want these allegations to interfere in any way with the important work of the Consensus Economic Forecasting Committee.”

Reached Tuesday afternoon, Dwight said he planned to honor the governor’s request.

According to Billian, Wilton officers responded to a similar complaint at the Dwight residence in 2010. However, officers determined there wasn’t enough probable cause to warrant an arrest at that time, Billian said.

Dwight said he didn’t recall the 2010 incident. He described Saturday’s altercation as a “family argument” and indicated that police overreacted.

Dwight declined to elaborate before speaking to an attorney.

Kevin Joyce, Dwight’s attorney, said that police arrived “hours after the argument” and that he was confident that his client would avoid a conviction.

A records check showed that Dwight has no criminal history in Maine.

Dwight serves on the Consensus Economic Forecasting Commission, which analyzes economic trends and prepares economic forecasts for the governor, the Revenue Forecasting Committee, Legislative Council, and the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee.

Dwight was selected to serve on the commission in May. According to news reports he was selected by its four other members, two of which are appointed by the governor. The other two are appointed by the speaker of the House of Representatives and the Senate president.

The commission recently underwent a significant overhaul and includes the chief economist from the Maine Heritage Policy Center, a conservative advocacy group.

Dwight serves on MHPC’s board of advisers and his family has been a consistent contributor to the Maine Republican Party.

Dwight has contributed $1,200 to the Maine GOP this year. He is also president of the firm Dwight Investment Counseling, which gave $2,600 to LePage during his 2010 campaign.

Dwight has been a monthly columnist for the Sun Journal since 2008.

During his July 9 weekly radio address, LePage vowed to take on domestic violence during his term.

“Domestic violence is a problem in our state and it’s this type of abuse that is ripping apart families, friends and entire communities,” he said. “We can no longer stay silent. We must speak out, and as governor I pledge to do just that.”

To read more of the Sun Journal, visit sunjournal.com.

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