Independent lawmaker says he will introduce legislation to censure LePage

AUGUSTA — An independent lawmaker who has clashed with Gov. Paul LePage in the past will introduce legislation Thursday morning in an effort to censure the governor for “insulting, discourteous or disparaging” comments he has made since taking office, including a now-infamous “Vaseline” reference LePage made last week.

Rep. Joseph Brooks, I-Winterport, told the Bangor Daily News late Wednesday night that he intends to bring his proposal to the House floor when the Legislature reconvenes Thursday morning. Under the terms of Brooks’ resolve, the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee would “investigate the comments made publicly by Gov. Paul R. LePage to determine whether those comments are actionable.”

Several members of Republican and Democratic leadership said that Brooks’ proposal would be an unnecessary distraction for the Legislature and may not be legal.

A draft of Brooks’ joint order requests that the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee investigate comments “including, but not limited to, the remarks made by the governor to the press on Thursday, June 20, 2013 and those that have brought national attention to Maine in an unflattering or embarrassing manner.”

LePage has made state and national headlines consistently for his gruff and at time inflammatory demeanor, though Brooks said the governor’s comments last Thursday about Sen. Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, were what prompted him to advance his proposal. LePage, who was reacting to criticisms from Jackson, said the lawmaker has a “black heart” and should go back into the woods and cut trees “and let someone with a brain come down here and do some good work.” But the comment that has been circulated throughout Maine and across the country was that Jackson “claims to be for the people but he’s the first one to give it to the people without providing Vaseline.”

LePage on Friday apologized for offending anyone but doubled down on his criticism of Jackson.

“It was never my intent to ever, ever suggest that the loggers of the state of Maine are in the same league as Troy Jackson,” said LePage. “I owe that apology. … it wasn’t meant to offend anybody.”

Brooks clashed with LePage at the beginning of the legislative session during a meeting between the governor and three independent lawmakers from the House. Brooks told the Bangor Daily News at the time that LePage called the lawmakers “idiots,” swore and slammed his fists on the table.

Brooks said Wednesday that his research has failed to find any example of members of any state-level legislature censuring a member of the executive branch, though there are several examples of legislative bodies censuring their own members.

“I want the Legislature to take a position in this and the things that have been said over the past two years of his administration,” said Brooks. “To me [the Vaseline comment] is the most derogatory thing he could have said because it references a sexual act. It had a dramatic impact over the decorum in this state’s government. It has really tainted the work of the Legislature and embarrassed the state of Maine.”

Brooks said he wants an apology from LePage but has no interest in forcing the governor to leave office by impeachment. Brooks said he has little support garnered so far but hoped that would change Thursday when he introduces the proposal on the House floor.

Several legislative leaders said they don’t support the concept and Jackson declined to comment.

Assistant House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe, D-Skowhegan, said he saw Brooks’ proposal as a distraction on a day when Democrats were celebrating the override of LePage’s veto of a two-year state budget bill.

“We’re trying not to be distracted by the chief executive,” said McCabe. “Today was a great day with the veto override … and we just passed a sweeping energy bill that will create a lot of jobs for our constituents.”

Rep. Adam Goode, D-Bangor, agreed.

“The governor says a lot of things that get people upset, but I’m here to pass good policies,” said Goode. “Frankly, I’m more concerned with the governor’s policies than the things he says.”

Assistant Senate Minority Leader Roger Katz, R-Augusta, who published an opinion column in the Bangor Daily News on Wednesday that was critical of LePage’s rhetoric, said he also doesn’t support any effort to censure the governor.

“It’s dangerous to set a precedent of the Legislature interfering in a formal way,” said Katz.

House Minority Leader Kenneth Fredette, R-Newport, and Senate Minority Leader Michael Thibodeau, R-Winterport, also said they don’t support a censure.

“The governor has apologized for anything he said that was offensive,” said Thibodeau. “I think it’s unfortunate that anyone would chose to grandstand in this fashion.”

Ericka Dodge, a spokeswoman for Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland, said Alfond does not support Brooks’ proposal, but Brooks said he expects some supporters to surface on Thursday.

“Tomorrow we’ll find out,” said Brooks on Wednesday night. “I suspect that some may speak and a number of people will vote for this.”

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Comments

MARK GRAVE's picture

Is such legislation even

Is such legislation even constitutional?

Gerry Thompson's picture

Time would be better spent

doing the job you were sent to do! We have major issues which need to be addressed and I for one am sick of politicians trying to get their names in the news by saying something bad about the Governor. It won't get my vote!

Bob Stone's picture

Independent?

I'll bet his voting tracks with Dems almost 100%.

Genise Knowlton's picture

Dennis & Edward....

I didn't say our state or it's government / laws / taxes were great or perfect....
I also don't care to have more of my income go to the welfare programs! I think there should be more collective subsistance. Like the corporate wealthy should pay a fair wage to its workers...as the Bible teaches. The God of my understanding makes the global plan pretty clear when it comes to "caring for the least of these" and I truly take that seriously. I also take seriously the moral & social beahviors of those around me; and personally, I'd rather share a meal and tea with the poorest of the poorest than our current governor who blatantly chooses to be vulgar, insensitive, uncaring, prejudice, etc.

Edward S Phillips 's picture

Censure nthe Legislature

Censure the legislature as the only thing they can do is constantly increase the cost of being in Maine either by increasing taxes and fees or more stupid business inhibing regulations. Welcome to the 3rd world state. The Govener may be rough around the edges but understands that we can not keep on going down this path.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

LePage is the only unnecessary distraction...........

I like the idea of impeachment...

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

In your dreams.

In your dreams.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

I know it won't happen>>>>>

But it would still feel so good::):):):-(

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

I see BHO's face and I think

I see BHO's face and I think I know exactly what you mean.

Gerry Thompson's picture

No such thing

as Impeaching the Governor of Maine.

David  Cote's picture

He won't be censured or impeached...

I get that a lot of people are disgusted with LePage's manner of what and how he speaks. But to censure or impeach him for it? Ridiculous. The lawmakers in Augusta have more pressing things to do than to waste time enacting a process that will bear no positive difference in the political atmosphere. The big change will come next election, and those people who really want him out of Augusta will get to drop the hammer themselves, that is, if he actually runs again.

Roger Moulton's picture

You couldn't be more right.

The people who really want him out of Augusta will get to "drop the hammer". And sometime down the road the intelligent people and people that use factual information will know this "dropping the hammer" just could be the straw that breaks our backs. I'm very concerned though if he does leave, what on earth will the democrats do with their time? Oh....wait thats right go back to "VASELINING" our state like they did for years before! Oh man that ones gonna make me laugh for awhile. :)

FRANK EARLEY's picture

David, I agree...........

I agree, but it would result in one of those very rare front page headlines you just want to frame and hang on your wall.....................................

Genise Knowlton's picture

State Legislative Censuring

I certainly understand WHY one would propose bringing such to the legislative floor but I agree that it would be more of a distraction and our elected officials should concentrate on the larger issues at hand. I believe in "what comes around goes around" and have no doubt that the day will come when LePage will have his moment of great humility. We as a people may never witness it but I have no doubt he will be laid out in lavender when he meets the Great Creator and has to give account for his life. Apologies really only hold valid if there is a change of behavior. Lepage has shown us repeatedly that his apologies are worthless. His attitude and vulgar tongue show who and what kind of person he really is... I just pray that the Maine people strongly weigh in on this should Lepage run for election again on any government level... He may be a brilliant business man but what he lacks in social skills & ettiquette is not the kind of person I choose to be associated with. When I go to another state and am asked, "Hey, what's up with that governor of yours?" I'm quite embarassed. I'm proud to be a Mainer! Let's help to keep Maine as a state that is known to be welcoming!

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Any time an out of stater

Any time an out of stater asks you about "What's up with Maine's governor", ask them if the ever heard of Lester Maddox or Huey Long.

Sticking the tourist who come

Sticking the tourist who come to Maine with new higher taxes, which the Dems just did with latest budget is not very welcoming to vacationland.

AL PELLETIER's picture

You would prefer

We welcome them with thousands of "Home For Sale" signs because we can't afford to pay our increased property taxes?

It's not Governor Lepages

It's not Governor Lepages fault property taxes are high.
Its also not his fault people can't afford to pay their property taxes.
.

Edward S Phillips 's picture

Welcoming?

We are welcoming allright every welfare drone in New England
. Mass publishes a booklet telling them were the best and easiest welfare is in Maine. Just look at the drones setting around in the larger cities. Also we welcome the drug dealers and help them by putting them on welfare. Just ask the police officers. Most of the ones arrested have EBT cards. Is the the kind of state we wish to be? Should worry more about these thing and less about a rough around the edges Govener who is trying to straighten things out.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

You tell it like it is.

You tell it like it is.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Forget it Mr. Brooks

Please spend you time on things that better serve the state. Yes, Lepage deserves to be slapped around for his crude remarks but pursuing a censure against him will only stir up an already stinky pot in Augusta.

Roger Moulton's picture

Really that's what he deserves?

Okay so you are knocking him for the way he speaks, which I'm okay with, heck I even like the way he speaks. But he deserves to be slapped around? Okay so it's not okay to say rude things........but it's okay to say that people deserve to be physically harmed for things they've said? FREEDOM OF SPEECH ya vaseline hole! Democrats are the most hypocritical group ever to exist.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Figure of speech Roger

Don't have a cow (without some Vaseline).

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