UPDATE: Effort to impeach Gov. Paul LePage fails in Maine House

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — The latest on a legislative attempt to impeach Republican Gov. Paul LePage (all times local):

UPDATED 2:50 p.m.: Maine Gov. Paul LePage says an attempt to launch an impeachment investigation amounted to a “nonsense” and “foolishness.”

The Republican issued the statement after critics failed to muster enough support to require a vote on an independent investigation that could have led to impeachment over his alleged abuse of power.

He was in his office Thursday afternoon after the vote. His spokeswoman said it was “business as usual.”

The governor was accused of using influence to pressure a charter school operator into rescinding a job offer to Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves.

Eves called it an “extremely sad day in our state’s history.”

LePage said the effort was a “political witch hunt that had absolutely no merit.”

UPDATED 1:45 p.m.: Critics of Maine Gov. Paul LePage have failed to muster enough support to require a vote on an independent investigation that could have led to impeachment over his alleged abuse of power.

Instead, House lawmakers voted 96 to 52 to indefinitely postpone debate after Republican leader Ken Fredette introduced a motion to pre-empt any action on the impeachment order.

A group led by Democratic Rep. Ben Chipman of Portland wanted to punish the brash and outspoken Republican governor for using influence to pressure a school operator into rescinding a job offer to Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves.

Debate moved in fits and starts before the vote, with lawmakers being reminded that items up for debate were allegations, not fact.

Eves left the House chambers during the discussion.

UPDATED 11:10 a.m.: Maine lawmakers have begun debating whether to call for an investigation that could lead to the impeachment of Gov. Paul LePage over alleged abuse of power.

A group led by Democratic Rep. Ben Chipman of Portland wants to punish the outspoken Republican governor for pressuring a charter school operator into rescinding a job offer to Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves.

Debate got underway Thursday after the House approved a resolution of “values and principles” that one Republican lawmaker called a “thinly veiled” reference to the governor’s conduct.

An impeachment order would be unprecedented. It likely wouldn’t survive long because it would eventually go to the Republican-controlled Senate.

LePage has said he did nothing wrong and the attacks on him are tantamount to a “witch hunt.”

UPDATED 9 a.m.: Maine legislators are ready to consider an impeachment order calling for an investigation into allegations that Gov. Paul LePage abused his power.

The proposal is due to be debated on the House floor on Thursday. A group of lawmakers led by Democratic Rep. Ben Chipman of Portland submitted the impeachment order.

Chipman’s group wants to punish the Republican governor for using influence to pressure a school operator into taking back a job offer from Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves. Chipman says the proceedings are about holding the governor accountable. LePage’s office calls the accusations frivolous.

An impeachment order would be unprecedented. It likely wouldn’t survive long as it would eventually go to the Republican-controlled Senate.

AUGUSTA (AP) — The Maine House is expected to take up a proposal Thursday for an independent investigation that could lead to impeachment of Republican Gov. Paul LePage. Here’s what you need to know.

Why impeachment?

Critics of the governor say he crossed the line when he pressured an organization that serves at-risk youths to rescind a job offer to House Speaker Mark Eves. An independent investigation of that matter found that the administration withheld a quarterly payment to Good Will-Hinckley as the governor worked behind the scenes to fight the hiring of Eves. Nine lawmakers who are pressing for impeachment want an investigation into other alleged abuses of power, as well.

How it works

The impeachment order would require a simple majority in the Democratically controlled House to launch an independent investigation into the governor’s actions. The panel would report back by April 1, and then the House could vote whether to impeach and refer the matter to the Republican-controlled Senate, where a two-thirds majority necessary to convict seems unlikely at best.

Counting votes

Even a simple majority in the Democratically controlled house is not a slam dunk. The Maine House is comprised of 78 Democrats, 69 Republicans and four independents. Some Democrats already have indicated they oppose impeachment, saying the governor’s actions were inappropriate, but not illegal. Lawmakers pressing with the impeachment order say they’re doing it on principle, even if it’s a longshot.

What’s next

If there’s support to get the ball rolling, then the investigation would distract from the Legislature’s work and further harm relations between the governor and lawmakers. Critics of impeachment say a failed effort would serve only to embolden the governor. Either way, a federal civil rights lawsuit by Eves is moving forward. The lawsuit accuses the governor of misusing his office by threatening to withhold state funding to blackmail Good Will-Hinckley into rescinding the job offer.


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