Jason Levesque launched his campaign challenging Rep. Michael Michaud for the 2nd Congressional District seat in Auburn last week with smiles and handshakes all around.
Days later, Levesque posted a serious accusation on his Facebook page, claiming a "very liberal" member of the Auburn Public Library's board of directors improperly canceled Levesque's Tuesday campaign appearance at the library after seeing Levesque interviewed on television. Levesque then suggested to supporters in a widely-circulated e-mail that the cancellation was just another repulsive game of "old tricks" played by the Democrats to thwart conservative progress.
The accusation against the library was not fair and not true. And that's an incredibly poor, and utterly curious, way for Levesque to muster support for his tender campaign.
It is true that the library canceled Levesque's appearance, but not for the reasons he claims.
The Auburn Public Library, like many libraries in Maine, makes space available to community members for all sorts of functions, including meetings of political entities, such as the Androscoggin County Republican Committee. The library asks, understandably so, that anyone who wants to reserve space sign a contract of understanding about keeping the room neat, limiting the number of attendees, whether food can be served, keeping noise levels down, etc.
One of the agreement's provisions is that no fees can be charged to attend whatever function is being planned. No admission fee, no fundraising, no selling of cupcakes and cookies, no matter how worthwhile the cause.
Levesque's appearance was canceled because he never signed a contract with the library, and he advertised a $10 attendance fee, in direct violation of library policy.
The library was right to cancel. Levesque was wrong to accuse anyone of unsavory political games for doing so.
In his campaign material, Levesque notes that unemployment is too high and too many families are struggling. Both are true.
He also says we are getting the "same old blah blah coming from Washington, and Mainers are tired of it."
But Levesque's tactic of falsifying action by the Auburn Public Library to make a point about how low Democrats will go to continue to rule the country is exactly the "same old blah blah coming from Washington" that Mainers are tired of.
Levesque has removed the accusation from Facebook, but it remains in circulation. The accusation is alive on the Web and lurking in e-mail in-boxes across Maine and he has done nothing to step up and set the record straight, driving dozens of complaints to the Auburn Public Library that library employees are now patiently addressing.
On Thursday, Levesque said he wouldn't engage in a back-and-forth with the library on this. He refused to acknowledge the precise wording of his Facebook post accusing the library's board member of pulling strings to cancel the campaign stop, saying only that he posts and removes material "all the time." Levesque said he's put the whole episode behind him and moved on. Nothing to see here.
Not an auspicious way for such a promising candidate to start a campaign.