Independent lawmaker requests AG’s investigation of LePage meetings with radical group

Gov. Paul LePage
Christopher Cousins | BDN
Gov. Paul LePage
Posted July 02, 2014, at 5:27 p.m.
Last modified July 03, 2014, at 9:20 a.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — An independent lawmaker from Friendship says he thinks Maine’s attorney general should investigate whether Gov. Paul LePage and a group of radical activists discussed violence against top Democratic lawmakers during a series of meetings last year.

As revealed by liberal blogger and activist Mike Tipping, the Constitutional Coalition met with LePage eight times in 2013, and the group has been linked with the Sovereign Citizens, which is described as a terrorist movement by both the federal government and the Maine Department of Public Safety.

“If an investigation shows that a conversation about the execution of the Senate president and speaker of the House was the subject of discussion in the governor’s office, Paul LePage has to resign,” said Rep. Jeff Evangelos. “It’s an impeachable offense.”

“If they were discussing killing people in that meeting, then we have a serious problem in this state. That has to be investigated,” he said.

When asked Wednesday about Evangelos’ request, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Janet Mills, a Democrat, said only that “there is no investigation.” She would not clarify whether an investigation was pending, but Evangelos said he was told the attorney general’s office was “looking into” his request.

Members of the Constitutional Coalition in Maine claim no affiliation with the Sovereign Citizens but espouse many of the same beliefs — including the notion that the government has been “hijacked” and is thus illegitimate, that most state laws are “repugnant to the Constitution” and thus invalid, and that the U.S. dollar is a “false currency.”

One member of the group, Jack McCarthy, said during a radio show last February that the group had discussed charges of treason against House Speaker Mark Eves and Senate President Justin Alfond, both Democrats. McCarthy said that the punishment for treason had never changed.

“We discussed this there: The penalty for high treason hasn’t changed in 100 years. … The governor looked at us and looked at his buddy and said ‘They’re talking about hanging them,’” McCarthy said. “I said, ‘Praise the Lord — we’ll hang a few and be done with this crap.’”

McCarthy, who espoused many other conspiracy theories on his radio show — including one that a coming “holocaust” against U.S. Christians was imminent — seems to be the most radical of the coalition members.

Paul Merletti and Wayne Leach, two other members of the group, reiterated Wednesday that they did not recall the subject of hanging or any other form of violence during the meeting.

LePage also has denied that the conversation ever turned toward violence.

Efforts to reach McCarthy have been unsuccessful.

Evangelos said his chief concern is that if any indication was made that the group was contemplating violence, LePage had an obligation to inform law enforcement.

Among the many documents the group sent the governor ahead of its meetings was a list of “discussion points.” The first issue was the group’s concern that access to the governor had been too difficult to come by.

“Over years of being ignored and a long train of abuse, the people’s options are diminishing, and we will be left with the 1776 or the 1865 option,” wrote McCarthy, which Tipping says are apparent references to the American Revolution and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. “In the pursuit of liberty, there is no extremism.”

The group also discussed its concern over the listing of Sovereign Citizens as a terrorist organization, McCarthy said. Documents obtained by the Freedom of Access Act show the group also planned to speak with the governor about its “remonstrance,” a document it claims shows the government is illegal.

Despite the violent statements by McCarthy, the group’s remonstrance makes reference to only “peaceful, but strong actions” to restore what the coalition views as a correct government.

Adrienne Bennett, LePage’s spokeswoman, said Wednesday that it’s “difficult to take requests like [Evangelos’] seriously.

“The office of the governor could make a similar request seeking information about every meeting Mr. Evangelos has held,” Bennett said. “We could go further and request all meetings that President Alfond, Speaker Eves and Attorney General Mills have had in the past four years. But, that would be crazy. We are not succumbing to this witch hunt, which is clearly politically motivated.”

Bennett also said that members of the Executive Protection Unit — a group of Maine State Police officers charged with protecting the governor — were present for LePage’s meetings with the Constitutional Coalition.

Follow Mario Moretto on Twitter at @riocarmine.

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