Democrats should stop trying to oust LePage

The bipartisan investigation into Gov. Paul LePage’s role in keeping Good Will-Hinckley from hiring House Speaker Mark Eves failed to conclude that LePage violated the law. One would assume, then, that the ridiculous push to impeach LePage, led by a handful of extremists in the House, would grind to a halt. Failing that, one would think that after Attorney General Janet Mills and Kennebec County District Attorney Maeghan Maloney — both Democrats — passed on investigating whether LePage committed criminal acts, those pushing for impeachment would drop the charade. Of course, given that Republicans control the Maine Senate, where any impeachment trial would take place, this was never anything more than a political charade driven by egotistical legislators more interested in grabbing a few headlines than getting things done for the people of Maine.

Those legislators pursuing impeachment — Reps. Jeff Evangelos, I-Friendship; Ben Chipman, D-Portland; and Charlotte Warren,D-Hallowell, who is apparently running for legislative leadership — ought to drop it and focus on actually governing. They should realize that at this point, they’re just trying to kick a governor out of office because they disagree with him. They might not like it, but LePage was elected governor twice by the people of Maine, and even attempting to impeach him absent blatant evidence that he broke the law amounts to a partisan attempt to overturn the results of an election rather than any kind of pursuit of justice.

Cushing Samp of Saco speaks outside the State House in June at a rally calling for Gov. Paul LePage's impeachment. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Cushing Samp of Saco speaks outside the State House in June at a rally calling for Gov. Paul LePage’s impeachment. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

By continuing to pursue impeachment after the legislative committee investigating the matter failed to recommend it, these legislators are calling into question the judgement of not only LePage, but of every single one of their colleagues who sits on the Government Oversight Committee. They are rejecting the determination of those in the Legislature who have spent more time than anyone delving into this matter by going forward with this nonsense. They’re essentially saying that the work done by the GOC is worthless and that they don’t trust the attorney general to do her job, since she doesn’t consider the matter worthy of a criminal investigation.

Of course, for those of us who remember the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton, seeing this kind of behavior coming from Democrats is especially galling. After all, at the time, many Democrats argued that the crimes of which Clinton was accused — perjury and obstruction of justice — did not rise to the level of impeachable offenses, and that the impeachment trial was a witch hunt driven by those who opposed Clinton politically. Today, in Maine, the shoe is on the other foot, with a few Democrats pushing for impeachment of a chief executive they disagree with politically. Here, though, the evidence against LePage is far less persuasive than was the evidence against Clinton. Yet some Democrats are still pushing for his impeachment while simultaneously preparing for the coronation of Hillary Clinton as their party’s nominee. The level of hypocrisy is stunning.

Impeachment ought to be pursued, at both the federal and state levels, in only the gravest of circumstances. It shouldn’t be used to get your name in the papers or to help advance a leadership bid. That subverts the Constitution of our state for purely political purposes, and legislators engaging in this kind of behavior ought to be embarrassed. The people of their districts elected them to solve problems, not to engage in political trench warfare to advance their own interests. If those few Democrats advocating impeachment don’t abandon it, their leaders ought to explicitly denounce it. Their constituents, and the people of Maine, deserve better.

An earlier version of this post misspelled Kennebec County District Attorney Maeghan Maloney’s first name.

Jim Fossel

About Jim Fossel

Originally from Alna, Jim Fossel has volunteered with a number of campaigns over the years, including for Peter Mills for Governor in 2006. He previously worked for U.S. Senator Susan Collins and House Republican Leader Josh Tardy.