SANFORD — In response to allegations from the NAACP that he is displaying a pattern of non-participation of their events, LePage told reporters today "Tell 'em to kiss my butt."
The Press Herald reported today that NAACP leaders were concerned that the governor declined invitations to a Martin Luther King Jr. Day dinner in Portland the night before and a lunch in Bangor the following day.
WCSH6 is reporting that the governor explained why he did not plan to attend the events hosted by the NAACP while at a meeting for business leaders in Sanford.
"They are a special interest. End of story ... and I'm not going to be held hostage by special interests. And if they want, they can look at my family picture. My son happens to be black, so they can do whatever they'd like about that," LePage told reporters on camera.
According to an October article in the Waterville Morning Sentinel, Paul and Ann LePage's son Devon Raymond is from Jamaica. Raymond goes to school at the University of Louisiana, and is not a U.S. citizen.
When asked what his response was to the NAACP suggesting that his rejection of its invitation was more than just one instance, but a pattern, LePage replied, "Tell 'em to kiss my butt. ... If they want to play the race card, come to dinner and my son will talk to them."
According to a press release from the governor's office, LePage has personal commitments on Sunday and he is attending the funeral of a state trooper on Monday.
WGME interviewed Portland NAACP President Rachel Talbott-Ross for a response to the governor's comments. Ross said, "What is the message to all Mainers when their governor feels he can arrogantly, with all the power he's been bestowed, to arrogantly tell the whole history of a people that they don't matter, they do not matter." She said that she hoped the governor would meet with the NAACP in the future.
This afternoon, the president of the NAACP, Benjamin Todd Jealous, responded, “Governor LePage’s decision to inflame racial tension on the eve of the King holiday denigrates his office. His words are a reminder of the worst aspects of Maine’s history and out of touch with our nation’s deep yearning for increased civility and racial healing. “
According to the press release from the governor's office, when LePage was mayor of Waterville, he gave the Martin Luther King Jr. Day welcome addresses at the Muskie Community Center in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2008. According to Carmen Benard, the organizer of the MLK events at the center, LePage attended "most, if not all" of the MLK breakfasts held at the center in the past eight years.