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House speaker boots state rep from committees for anti-Trump rant

Posted July 14, 2017, at 10:25 a.m.
Last modified July 14, 2017, at 11:50 a.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — Rep. Scott Hamann, D-South Portland, has been removed from two legislative committees because of statements he made online that suggested he would harm President Donald Trump if he got close enough.

Three days after images of a profane Facebook post that Hamann wrote began to circulate online, House Speaker Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, said she has removed Hamann from his seats on the Health and Human Services Committee and the Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee.

In the post, Hamann, 36, called the president a “joke,” a “rapist” and a criminal, seethed against his supporters and Republicans more generally and said Trump is unlikely to serve his full four-year term, “especially if I ever get within 10 feet of that pussy.”

[Drunken driving to dueling: Lawmakers behaving badly is nothing new]

In a statement, Gideon said the three-term lawmaker’s comments were “inexcusable and unacceptable” and said his removal from the committees should stand as a lesson to other members of state government.

“I hope this consequence sends a clear signal to all members of the House of Representatives that they are expected to conduct themselves with respect at all times and in all media,” Gideon said.

Hamann did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday but previously said he regretted the statements. They were part of an “aggressively sarcastic … Facebook exchange with a childhood friend,” he said.

Rep. Aaron Frey, D-Bangor, will replace Hamann on the Marijuana Legalization Implementation committee. Hamann will be replaced on the Health and Human Services Committee by Joyce McCreight, D-Harpswell, who is in turn stepping down from the Taxation Committee, where she is being replaced by Denise Tepler, D-Topsham.

The changes do not alter the partisan balance of those committees.

Gideon’s announcement of the committee shakeup follows bipartisan condemnation of Hamann’s comments, which were picked up by national media, including right-leaning outlets, such as FOX News and Breitbart, but also more mainstream news organizations, such as Reuters and The Boston Globe.

Hamann’s comments were decried by the heads of Maine’s Republican and Democratic parties and U.S. Sen. Susan Collins. The state GOP called for his resignation.

Maine’s House Democratic leadership had remained silent on the issue before Gideon’s Friday morning announcement. On Thursday, Assistant House Minority Leader Ellie Espling, R-New Gloucester, sent Gideon a letter asking what she was doing to address the matter.

Hamann is the second Maine lawmaker in recent years to lose a committee seat after running his mouth online. In 2015, Sen. Mike Willette, R-Presque Isle, resigned from his co-chairmanship of the Legislature’s State and Local Government Committee following controversy caused by his inflammatory Facebook posts about President Barack Obama.

The Good Shepherd Food Bank, where Hamann works as a project manager, said in a statement that the lawmaker’s comments “in no way reflect the views or values” of the organization.

Hamann said in a Thursday email that he is continuing to work for the food bank but that he had taken most of the week off “to address this distraction.”

 

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