AUGUSTA — Calls for disciplinary action against Republican Sen. Mike Willette of Presque Isle continued Friday with Senate Democrats and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People calling for an ethics probe.

“This is not easy,” said Rachel Talbot Ross, president of the Portland Chapter of the NAACP, during a news conference Friday at the State House. “We are here to call on the Maine Senate leadership to further look into this matter.”

Talbot Ross said she came to Augusta on Friday to meet with Senate leaders from both parties but that Senate President Mike Thibodeau, R-Winterport, refused to attend the meeting with Democrats present. A spokeswoman for Thibodeau said Friday that he believes Democrats are “politicizing the issue” and that neither he nor Willette would speak to the media about the situation.

Willette has been under fire since earlier this month when it was revealed by BDN blogger and Maine People’s Alliance blogger Mike Tipping that Willette had posted a number of anti-President Obama messages on his Facebook page, some of which were critical of and insensitive to Islam.

Senate Minority Leader Justin Alfond, D-Portland, said during Friday’s news conference that he and his caucus want the entire Senate to move forward as one in condemning bigoted remarks shared by Willette on his personal Facebook account. Alfond said those comments have cast a cloud over the Senate.

“We need to move forward in a way that we can ensure the people of Maine have trust and faith in the Senate,” said Alfond. “Whether that is the ethics committee in the Senate gathering, whether it’s the Senate making a statement on the record, whether that’s looking to censorship, all of this needs to be done together and it’s been blocked every step of the way by the Senate president.”

Talbot Ross said she met with Thibodeau one-on-one last week in Portland and that he personally condemned Willette’s remarks but would not agree to proceeding with disciplinary action.

“Unfortunately that’s not on the public record, so we do have some disagreements,” she said. “I continue to ask President Thibodeau for a meeting that would include the Democratic leadership and for us to put a number of impacted stakeholders around a table for a transparent conversation about the impact of this situation.”

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