Gov. Paul LePage’s impeachment will be debated by Maine lawmakers on Thursday. Earlier this week, Portland Rep. Ben Chipman submitted the controversial impeachment order — with the support of several other Democratic lawmakers. Chipman contends LePage misused public assets and his position of power to further his own interests.
Although it is unrelated to the impeachment order, Gov. Paul LePage is also under fire for some unusual comments he made during a January 6 town hall meeting.
When questioned about Maine’s heroin epidemic, the governor went on a bizarre tirade about drug dealers and the state’s “young, white girl[s].”
“the traffickers… These are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty, these types of guys… they come up here, they sell their heroin, and they go back home… Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing… “
Huffington Post reports LePages’s comments were criticized as racially insensitive. However, the governor’s communication director, Peter Steele, said, “race is irrelevant.”
According to Steele, the governor was simply expressing his frustration with the number of “kids who are born as a result of involvement with drug traffickers,” and the subsequent strain on Maine’s social services and welfare programs.
As reported by Bangor Daily News, LePage later explained that he merely “slipped up” during the town hall meeting. The governor insists he actually intended to say “Maine women” instead of “white girl.”
The governor’s controversial comments remain a point of heated controversy. However, Gov. Paul LePage’s possible impeachment is an entirely separate matter.
According to ABC News, LePage is accused of using his position of power to influence decisions in the Maine Community College System and the state’s unemployment compensation board. He is also accused of influencing Good Will-Hinckley’s decision to rescind a job offer extended to House Speaker Mark Eves.
In June 2015, Eves was hired as President of Good Will-Hinckley’s Maine Academy of Natural Sciences. Although he was recently nominated as House Speaker, Eves said he planned to serve the remainder of his term while serving as President of the school.
Gov. Paul LePage expressed his disappointment in Good Will-Hinckley’s decision to hire the House Speaker in a letter — which was addressed to Marine Academy of Natural Sciences Board of Directors Chair Bill Brown and Good Will-Hinckley Executive Committee chair Jack Moore.
In the letter, which is provided by Portland Press Herald, LePage accused Good Will-Hinckley of placing “partisan politics over the best interests of Maine students.” In the governor’s opinion, Eves’ history of opposing funding for charter schools and voting against measures to improve charter schools disqualified him from serving as president of a charter school.
— HuffPost Politics (@HuffPostPol) January 13, 2016
According to reports, the governor threatened to withhold more than $500,000 in state funding if Good Will-Hinckley followed through with their decision to hire Eves.
Good Will-Hinckley ultimately rescinded their offer of employment, and House Speaker Mark Eves lost his job.
The Government Oversight Committee later agreed to investigate claims that the governor essentially blackmailed Good Will-Hinckley into rescinding their employment offer.
Although the committee agreed that LePage’s actions were directly related to the charter school’s decision to rescind the job offer, they did not determine the governor’s actions were illegal.
— Huffington Post (@HuffingtonPost) January 8, 2016
Rep. Ben Chipman says he has eight co-sponsors for Gov. Paul LePage’s impeachment order. However, he does not have full support from all House Democrats. Many, including Democratic Rep. Sara Gideon, are waiting to see what happens during the debate.
The results of the debate surrounding Gov. Paul LePage’s impeachment order will be presented to lawmakers before April 1. As stated by Rep. Gideon, “anything can happen between now and then.”