In a set of phone calls to the Bangor Daily News yesterday evening, Governor Paul LePage made a number of provably false claims about his series of meetings with members of the Constitutional Coalition, a Sovereign Citizen group whose members are part of “a domestic terrorism movement,” according to the FBI and Maine State law enforcement.
The calls came in response to a chapter of my upcoming book As Maine Went: Governor Paul LePage and the Tea Party Takeover of Maine published at the national blog Talking Points Memo yesterday and a follow-up post here at the BDN.
First, LePage claimed that he had never discussed the arrest or execution of his political opponents with the group. This is in direct contrast with what the sovereigns claimed on their Aroostook Watchmen radio show just two days after their meeting with LePage.
“We also discussed this there, that as far as I know, the penalty for high treason hasn’t changed in a hundred 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 host Jack McCarthy on the show.
“That’s right,” said co-host Steve Martin in response.
“I said, ‘Praise the Lord – we’ll hang a few and be done with this crap,’” said McCarthy.
You can hear the exchange at minute 19 of this set of clips from the 2-hour show, one of several where the Watchmen discuss their meetings with LePage.
Even if, for some reason, the men were lying about this interaction. It strains credulity to think that at no point during the at least eight meetings, confirmed by documents received by the governor’s office through Freedom of Access request, did they ever discuss their “remonstrances” and their charges against Senate President Justin Alfond and House Speaker Mark Eves. These accusations were their main reason for approaching LePage in the first place and a constant obsession on their radio broadcasts.
LePage’s lie is also exposed by the documents provided by his own office. In several emails to LePage and his staff the sovereigns discuss their remonstrances and charges of treason. Here’s one, for example.
In one note sent to the governor before one of their meetings, titled “Subject for discussion #1,” they specifically discuss the possibility of being forced to pursue “the 1776 or the 1865 option” against Eves and Alfond. 1776 obviously refers to the beginning of the American Revolution and 1865 was the year President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.
In the phone calls, LePage also claimed that no one told him about my Freedom of Access request. This would seem to contradict correspondence from his own legal team. After I objected to his office’s failure to produce the governor’s notes from his meetings, I received this from Deputy Counsel Hank Fenton:
“We believe we have produced all documents that are responsive to your FOAA request. However, I am writing to inform you that we will take an additional review of the Governor’s notes that are in the custody of the Governor’s Office in order to confirm that we have fully complied with your FOAA request. I will be in touch if our efforts produce any additional documents that are responsive to your request.”
That was the last I heard from them. If LePage is correct, then Fenton, despite his statement to me, must never have approached him about reviewing his notes.
LePage now claims that he does in fact have notes from the meetings, but they are written in shorthand in a secret code that only he understands. I have renewed my request for these documents.
LePage made a number of other false claims during the calls, including that there was no memo from his legal staff on the remonstrances (despite the fact that I published it yesterday) and that Eves and Alfond never asked to meet with him (despite their well-publicized requests).
LePage apparently ended the call by promising to sue me and the Bangor Daily News. I look forward to seeing his case.
In other news, the Kickstarter allowing pre-orders of As Maine Went is now at almost twice its original goal.