Almost immediately after Maine Gov. Paul LePage’s (R) abuse-of-power scandal came to light, talk of gubernatorial impeachment became common. The Portland Press Herald reported yesterday that for some in the state legislature, the move remains very much on the table.
A group of House lawmakers will introduce an impeachment order against Gov. Paul LePage this week calling for a special committee to investigate eight separate charges against Maine’s controversial governor.The “order for impeachment” is the first step in a long-shot campaign to remove LePage from office and is likely to fan political tensions in the Maine House, where Republicans are expected to largely oppose it and some Democrats are leery of opening a legislative session on a highly partisan note. The House could take up the issue as early as Wednesday when lawmakers return for the first day of the 2016 legislative session.
The local paper published a copy of the order itself online here (pdf). For now, it has four co-sponsors: three Democrats and one independent.
To briefly recap for those who may need a refresher, a Maine charter school hired state House Speaker Mark Eves (D) for a top position, but LePage, a fierce opponent of Democratic legislators, threatened the school – either fire Eves or the governor would cut off the school’s state funding. In effect, LePage played the role of a mobster saying, “It’s a nice school you have there; it’d be a shame if something happened to it.”
The school, left with no options, reluctantly acquiesced. The problem, of course, is that governors are not supposed to use state resources to punish people they don’t like. For many, this looked like an abuse of power that constitutes an impeachable offense.
As recently as October, the school’s chairman spoke to state investigators and said the governor did precisely what he’s accused of doing. To date, LePage has made no real effort to deny the allegations.
The governor’s critics, however, nevertheless face long odds. Even if the impeachment order passed the Maine House, which is by no means an easy task, the Maine Senate has a Republican majority. By all accounts, getting a two-thirds majority in the chamber would be a very tall order.
In the meantime, Eves, the Democratic state House Speaker, has a separate lawsuit pending against the governor, though the Press Herald also reported yesterday that LePage now believes he’s immune from the legal challenge.
Gov. Paul LePage plans to claim that his role as the state’s chief executive gives him immunity from a lawsuit brought against him by House Speaker Mark Eves that accuses the governor of violating Eves’ rights by using intimidation to prevent a private school from hiring him.LePage’s attorney, Patrick Strawbridge, revealed his plan to use the immunity argument in a procedural filing that he entered electronically in U.S. District Court in Portland on New Year’s Eve…. The filing marks LePage’s first response to the lawsuit that is likely to take a year or more to play out.
Eves’ attorney openly mocked the argument, telling reporters yesterday, “The governor has changed positions from ‘bring it on’ to run and hide. Rather than defend his actions in open court, the governor is apparently afraid to have a Maine jury decide this case.”