Maine native and lifelong resident Stephen King has added a footnote to the ongoing saga with Gov. Paul LePage over his income taxes.
At a gathering of New England Republicans in Connecticut last Thursday, Gov. LePage said that he would not apologize for falsely saying that the horror writer had moved to Florida in order to avoid paying Maine's income taxes. LePage mentioned the novelist's plea for an apology and responded, "Just make me the villain of your next book and I won't charge you royalties."
To add fuel to the fire between the author and the Republican governor, the horror writer has another message for the governor.
"I've already used Paul LePage-type characters twice in my books," the author wrote in an email to MSNBC's "The Last Word." "Greg Stilton, the nutty right-wing Congressman in 'The Dead Zone' is one. The other is the monster clown in 'It.' Like the clown, Governor LePage is Pennywise… and pound foolish."
On March 18, Gov. LePage cited King as one of the Maine residents who have moved out of the state while discussing his campaign to eliminate the state income tax. "Meanwhile, remember who introduced the income tax here in Maine," said the governor. in his weekly radio address. "Well, today former Governor Ken Curtis lives in Florida where there is zero income tax. Stephen King and Roxanne Quimby have moved away, as well."
The author issued his own statement to a Bangor radio station, saying that "Governor LePage is full of the stuff that makes the grass grow green."
"Tabby and I pay every cent of our Maine state income taxes, and are glad to do it. We feel, as Governor LePage apparently does not, that much is owed from those to whom much has been given. We see our taxes as a way of paying back the state that has given us so much. State taxes pay for state services. There's just no way aRound it. Governor LePage needs to remember there ain't no free lunch," King wrote in a statement released to The Pulse AM 620, a radio station that he owns.
After receiving no response from the governor, the author took to Twitter the next and day and tweeted:
The same day, King followed up and wrote an email to the Portland Press Herald.
"In 2013, my wife and I paid approximately 1.4 million (dollars) in state taxes," the email stated. "As this is a matter of public record, I have no problem telling you that. I would imagine 2014 was about the same, but I do not have those figures. In addition, the King Foundation gives grants from three to five million dollars annually, mostly in Maine. We consider this a very fair price for living in the most beautiful state in America."
While there was no word from LePage's camp about issuing an apology, the governor's official website corrected the original transcript of LePage's weekly address and deleted the reference to King and Quimby. A spokesperson for the governor said, "We had to take Stephen King at his word. He said he pays income taxes in Maine so we corrected the radio address."
Additionally, when asked by a resident about his original remarks at a state budget forum, the governor denied ever having said that the author did not pay his income taxes. "I never said that, sir, so I’m not going to apologize," replied LePage. “I never said Stephen King did not pay income taxes. What I said was, Stephen King’s not in Maine right now. That’s what I said. How the papers report it, I don’t know."
In an email response to the Portland Press Herald, King said that LePage, "a man with a reputation for straight talk," was "gilding the lily and playing with semantics."
"The clear implication of his original statement was that I moved to Florida to avoid paying state income taxes. It’s not so, and it’s not the way he phrased his response (in the video)," wrote King. He added, "He still owes me an apology, but I don’t expect to collect on that IOU. I repeat: he’s not man enough to admit he made a mistake (best case scenario) or knowingly misrepresented the facts (worst case). Now let’s let this rest."