AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage on Friday met with representatives from two Jewish groups following comments he has made over the past week comparing the Internal Revenue Service to the Gestapo, Adolf Hitler’s secret police force in Nazi Germany.
LePage met in the State House cabinet room with representatives from the Anti-Defamation League of New England and the Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine. Both groups had issued statements calling on LePage to apologize for and retract his comments.
“We really appreciate the governor’s time meeting with us, and we’re looking forward to his radio statement,” said Emily Chaleff, executive director of the Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine.
LePage first compared the IRS with the Gestapo last weekend in his weekly radio address focused on the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling to uphold most provisions of the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration’s signature health care reform law.
On Monday, LePage said he didn’t mean to insult anyone with his comments “or minimize the fact that millions of people were murdered,” but he stopped short of publicly apologizing. He did, however, apologize privately to Chaleff.
Then in Vermont on Thursday, LePage told a reporter that the IRS might not be as bad as the Gestapo, but that the federal tax collection agency is headed in that direction.
“The Holocaust was a horrific crime against humanity and, frankly, I would never want to see that repeated,” LePage said during an interview with Seven Days, an alternative weekly newspaper in Burlington, Vt. “Maybe the IRS is not quite as bad — yet.”
LePage spokeswoman Adrienne Bennett confirmed Thursday that the governor will publicly apologize for his comments in his radio address this weekend.