AUGUSTA, Maine — The introduction of impeachment proceedings against Republican Gov. Paul LePage won’t proceed as planned on Wednesday, according to two of the measure’s sponsors.
Reps. Jeff Evangelos, I-Friendship, and Ben Chipman, D-Portland, co-sponsors of the effort to impeach the governor, said Tuesday night that House leaders opted to hold off on introducing the impeachment order so it can be the presented concurrent with a possible censure resolution from Democratic leadership.
Leaders have been saying for days that they planned to run the impeachment attempt on the first day of session, which is Wednesday. That plan apparently changed Tuesday evening.
“I don’t think it’s going to be [Wednesday], but we’re definitely going forward with it,” said Chipman. “Everything’s a go as far as we’re concerned.”
Evangelos said the impeachment order has nine sponsors and that he isn’t concerned by how many votes it attracts.
“I’m not calling anyone or pressuring anyone, and I’ve been telling people just vote your conscience,” he said. “The only thing we want is our day in court on the floor of the House.”
Evangelos, Chipman and Rep. Charlotte Warren, D-Hallowell, among others, vowed to launch an attempt to impeach LePage after the governor forced Good Will-Hinckley to rescind an employment contract with Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves of North Berwick.
Eves has said he will recuse himself from any proceedings to punish LePage.
House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe, D-Skowhegan, said LePage created this situation with his own actions.
“We join other Mainers around the state and share their anger and frustration,” said McCabe. “Democrats are focused on the most pressing issues before us. We are committed to addressing the drug crisis, growing access to broadband as well as helping our struggling mills. … The governor has isolated himself and we are not playing his games.”
Evangelos said LePage’s comments on WVOM radio Tuesday morning, in which he accused Republican Sens. Roger Katz and Tom Saviello, as well as McCabe and Democratic Reps. Charles Kruger of Thomaston of cooperating with Democrats on the impeachment order, angered some lawmakers.
“Those four had nothing to do with it,” said Evangelos. “Those accusations are divorced from reality.”
House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, R-Newport, said Tuesday evening that he hoped the delay in House efforts to punish LePage signaled a more positive start to the session, which begins Wednesday morning.
“I would simply say that I think it’s important to start the session focusing on enacting good policy for the people of Maine,” said Fredette.
Chipman said a rally outside the State House by Mainers who favor impeachment, scheduled for Wednesday morning, was still planned.
“Unfortunately, the governor has put us in a position that we have to take action,” said Chipman. “That’s the oath we took when we went into office.”