EDITORIALS

Stating the obvious: Why a governor shouldn’t meet with anti-government extremists

The Blaine House. Augusta, Maine.
Carter F. McCall | Carter F. McCall
The Blaine House. Augusta, Maine. Buy Photo
Posted July 07, 2014, at 11:16 a.m.
Last modified July 07, 2014, at 1:55 p.m.

A governor shouldn’t meet eight times in eight months with an anti-government extremist group that has connections to an entity the FBI considers one of the nation’s top domestic terrorist threats. Shouldn’t that be obvious?

But Gov. Paul LePage apparently doesn’t understand a simple concept: As the state’s chief executive, he harms the reputation of the state by repeatedly indulging people who believe the current government is acting illegally, talk in strange ways about a new world order, urge people to not pay taxes, don’t believe President Barack Obama is a U.S. citizen, think the federal government is stockpiling ammunition to use against civilians, publicly discuss mind control, and believe the massacre of schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn., was a government-orchestrated attempt to restrict Second Amendment rights.

Between January and September 2013, LePage met with members of the Constitutional Coalition, as BDN blogger and liberal activist Mike Tipping revealed in his book, “As Maine Went.” Some members have linked themselves to “sovereign citizens,” who the FBI says comprise a domestic terrorist movement.

“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,” according to the FBI.

It doesn’t matter if the people who met with LePage haven’t acted violently in the past; their views are so dissociated from reality they taint the credibility of anyone who takes them somewhat seriously. The fact that LePage met with them multiple times, when he could have been addressing the state’s real problems, shows a severe lack of judgment.

Even though the people LePage met with regularly between January and September 2013 are part of the Constitutional Coalition, what they say they understand about the Constitution is bizarre. Take “remonstrances,” for example, which assert violations of the Constitution: “[T]he Remonstrance has more authority than any legislation or court authority because it has the authority of Article 1 Section 2 Citizens authority to ordain or abolish the government and reset to a new administration,” one member wrote in an email to the governor’s office.

And because Senate President Justin Alfond and House Speaker Mark Eves have somehow acted outside the bounds of the Constitution, they are guilty of treason. The punishment for treason? The governor den ies he talked about executing, arresting and hanging his political opponents, but not everyone agrees.

“The penalty for high treason hasn’t changed in 100 years. And I didn’t say it, but the governor said it. I never opened my mouth and said the word. The governor looked at us and looked at his buddy and said, ‘They’re talking about hanging them,’” said Jack McCarthy, a coalition member and host of the Aroostook Watchmen radio show, on Feb. 4, 2013. “I said, ‘Praise the Lord, let’s hang a few.’ We’ll be done with this crap.”

The members also, apparently, discussed how the Maine Criminal Justice Academy training manual labels them domestic terrorists. “That document, and Phil Merletti handed [LePage] a copy of it, that document says that all four of us are domestic terrorists. ‘Do you understand where we stand?’ And the governor looked at that, and his eyes got big, and he shook his head, and he handed it to his cohort next to him and said, ‘Have you ever seen this before?’ and he said no,” McCarthy said on the radio show.

People will continue to debate the specifics of what was actually said, and what the group believes, but the fact is that LePage met eight times with people who essentially seek to undermine the state’s public safety. By meeting regularly with them, he lent their cause a level of credibility it in no way deserves. His actions should make residents question LePage’s allegiance to the state. Maine needs ideas for growth. It does not need a chief executive to turn it into a laughingstock by indulging those who seek to subvert its very underpinnings.

 

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