Gov. Paul LePage drew fire for leaving an obscenity-filled voicemail for state Rep. Drew Gattine. | AP Photo
An independent lawmaker in the Maine legislature is attempting to oust Gov. Paul LePage from office by questioning the embattled governor’s “mental competency.”
Rep. Jeffrey Evangelos of Friendship, Maine, is invoking Article 5, Section 15 of the state constitution, which would allow Maine’s Secretary of State and Supreme Court to remove LePage from power. If the effort worked, it would be the first time the constitutional clause was effectively used in the state’s history.
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The removal effort comes less than two weeks after LePage drew fire for leaving an obscenity-filled voicemail for state Rep. Drew Gattine. Shortly after leaving Gattine the voicemail, he told reporters that he wished to duel Gattine, claiming he would point a firearm “right between his eyes, because he is a snot-nosed little runt.”
In a drafted letter to Maine’s Secretary of State, Evangelos used LePage’s duel threat as evidence that the governor is unable to fulfill his duties. Evangelos also suggested that LePage is battling a substance abuse problem. The voicemail that LePage left Gattine, said Evangelos, “can only be described as a drunken rage.”
LePage’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But during a press conference last Wednesday, LePage flatly denied that he had a substance abuse problem. “I’m not an alcoholic and I’m not a drug addict and I don’t have mental health issues,” said LePage. “What I have is a backbone.” He has also made clear that he has no intention to leave office and will not heed calls to resign.
This is not Evangelos’ first attempt to remove Maine’s controversial governor. Last January, Evangelos co-sponsored an impeachment bill that failed in a House vote. Negotiations for a special legislative session to impeach LePage fell apart again last week when Republicans said they only wished to censure him.
Currently, Evangelos is asking his fellow lawmakers to sign onto the drafted letter. In addition to listing the governor’s transgressions, the letter suggests that LePage’s comments represent the kind of “verbal violence” that led to the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
So far, Maine’s Secretary of State, Matt Dunlap, has given no indication that he would bring the case in front of Maine’s Supreme Court, where a majority of justices would need to agree to remove LePage from his post.