AUGUSTA, Maine — A Democratic congresswoman and tea party followers are joining the fray over Gov. Paul LePage’s removal of a mural depicting the state’s labor history from a state office.
Rep. Chellie Pingree said the mural, which was removed in late March by order of the governor, should be put back up in the Labor Department so the state won’t have to repay to the federal government most of its $60,000 cost.
The 1st District congresswoman issued her statement after the U.S. Labor Department said Monday that LePage violated terms of federal laws governing money used to pay for most of the mural’s $60,000 cost when he removed the artwork.
“The best solution at this point would be to put the mural back up so Maine taxpayers won’t have to cover the original grant,” Pingree said. “Public art belongs to all of us and I don’t think the governor should have acted so hastily in taking it down. It wasn’t a decision for one person.”
Meanwhile, Richard Ashcroft, a tea party activist from Richmond, defended the Republican governor and said he’s ready to work for the defeat of a group of GOP state senators who wrote a newspaper column criticizing LePage for his statements surrounding the mural and other matters.
Writing for theMaineteaparty.com website, Ashcroft called the senators the “gang of eight” and “a bunch of R.I.N.O.s” — Republicans in name only — and suggests working for their removal from office in the next election.
“What’s the matter with these people, don’t they realize that we should all stick together and back the Governor?” Ashcroft wrote.
The Maine Republican Party continued its online diatribe, labeling the $60,000 piece of artwork a waste of public funds. Emails circulated by the party even injected a bit of humor into the furor, inviting readers to paint themselves into the mural through a web link.