AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- There's a new storm swirling around the campaign for Governor of Maine, and once again at the center of that storm is Governor Paul LePage.
Liberal activist and writer Mike Tipping of the Maine People's Alliance yesterday released a portion of a new book about LePage – and it accuses him of meeting repeatedly with a group that says state government and the courts are violating the Maine constitution. The material for the book also claims the group is part of a national extremist movement called Sovereign Citizens, considered by law enforcement to be a domestic terrorist group.
The Tipping article, as reported on in the Bangor Daily News, and Portland Press Herald, goes on to claim the Constitutional Coalition members at one point talked with the Governor about arresting and even executing the Speaker of the House and President of the Senate. The article cites a recording of a radio program on an Aroostook County station to back up that claim. Governor LePage, however, says that is not true. The Bangor Daily News says the Governor has told them he never talked with the group about arresting or executing anyone.
The Governor's office didn't respond to specific questions from NEWS CENTER on Tuesday, but his office did send out a statement, saying he meets with a wide variety of people and groups, without endorsing their particular causes. The Governor's statement goes on to say, in part: "Sen. Alfond, Speaker Eves, and the Maine People's Alliance, which is actively working for Rep. Michael Michaud, have stooped to ridiculous levels during this campaign season to attack the Governor, but this is truly an all-time low."
The Governor's election opponents have jumped on the allegations. Democrat Rep. Mike Michaud said, " We must take threats of violence from extremist groups seriously. Gov. LePage has once again shown a severe lapse in judgment that proves he's not fit to lead the state of Maine."
Independent Eliot Cutler said, "This group is doing nothing to help Maine grow and it is regrettable that the Governor apparently gave them so much of his time when there are so many real challenges facing Maine."
Author Tipping sent an email to news organizations today, offering more evidence, including some from documents obtained from the Governor's office through the Freedom of Information Act. He says those documents shows the Coalition did make suggestions of possible violence to Gov. LePage.
But a leader of the Constitutional Coalition, Phil Merletti, says in an email to NEWS CENTER'S Don Carrigan that the Maine group has no connection with the Sovereign Citizens movement. He also says they had multiple meetings with the Governor, many during his Saturday citizen visit hours, and that he never heard any discussion of violence toward anyone. Merletti also says the group is not violent or terrorist.