By Christopher Cousins
Six lawmakers said Thursday they will attempt to launch impeachment proceedings against Republican Gov. Paul LePage for his alleged role in pushing Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves out of a new job at Good Will-Hinckley School.
Independent Reps. Jeffrey Evangelos of Friendship and Ben Chipman of Portland and Democratic Reps. Pinny Beebe-Center of Rockland, Lydia Blume of York, Roberta Beavers of South Berwick and Charlotte Warren of Hallowell said Thursday they are exploring disciplinary action against LePage, including impeachment.
"I'm asking my fellow legislators to study abuse of authority, conduct unbecoming and possible misuse of public assets," said Evangelos, who is leading the effort. "I believe that Gov. LePage has violated his authority by intimidating a private entity with the end objective of violating speaker Eves' civil rights, his ability to seek outside employment and provide for his family."
The House of Representatives has "sole power of impeachment" according to Article 4 of the Maine Constitution. The Senate has the "sole authority to try all impeachments." Impeachment requires a two-thirds vote of the Senate.
The Constitution states that the Senate's judgment in an impeachment trial "shall not extend farther than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold or enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under this state."
Any legal action through the court system would be an entirely separate matter.
Evangelos and Warren said they were looking into what their next steps in a disciplinary process would be.
"When we take an oath of office, we set ourselves up to behave in a certain manner," Warren said. "As a member of this legislative body and a member of the policy makers in this state, you need to stand up and call it out when you see it. To threaten to withhold public dollars to an institution because they are going to hire someone is unethical."
Beebe-Center said the situation is hurting Maine's image to the rest of the country.
"We're the laughingstock of the country," she said. "This is lower than low."
Chipman said he has never seen a stronger reaction to LePage's actions than he was seeing Thursday morning.
"People are fired up like I've never seen before," Chipman said.
Eves said he would have no part of any legislative action against the governor.
"I, or this office, will not be working on any legislative fixes or initiatives," said Eves. "If other legislators are doing that, that is certainly outside any knowledge or coordination from this office. We are keeping a bright line between what is political and what is personal. This is about my personal life."
House Minority Leader Ken Fredette of Newport declined to comment.
(c)2015 the Bangor Daily News (Bangor, Maine)