Maine Democratic Speaker Accuses LePage of Blackmail - NECN
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Maine Democratic Speaker Accuses LePage of Blackmail

Rep. Mark Eves said LePage told school operator Good Will-Hinckley it had to remove Eves as president or lose $500,000 in state funds

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    The Democratic speaker of the state House of Representatives accused Republican Gov. Paul LePage on Wednesday of blackmailing a charter school. (Published Thursday, June 25, 2015)

    A handful of Maine lawmakers are calling for Governor Paul LePage to be impeached, following allegations that he blackmailed a charter school to have a political opponent fired.

    Democrat Speaker of the House Mark Eves was recently offered the position of president at the Good Will-Hinkley School for at-risk youth and the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences charter school.

    Days before he was scheduled to start, Eves learned that the Board of Directors had second thoughts.

    Republican Governor LePage had written a letter to them on June 8, outlining reasons why he thought Eves was a poor choice for president, outlining three times Eves voted on charter school-related legislation, calling him a "long-time opponent of charter schools."

    Eves said the board had also received a hand-written letter from LePage threatening to withdraw more than $500,000 of discretionary state funds that he had originally allocated for the school.

    In a statement Thursday, LePage admitted that he did not want to give Good Will-Hinckley the funds after appointing Eves. Neither the governor nor the school board have confirmed the existence of the handwritten threat.

    The Board of Directors released a statement explaining the decision to rescind Eve's job offer, stating: "The basis for this decision is grounded in the institution's desire not to be involved in political controversy that will divert attention away from our core mission."

    Eves is calling LePage's actions "blackmail."

    "This is why people hate politics," said Eves. "The governor has stepped outside of the political world, into my personal life, and ability to provide for my family. It's extremely upsetting."

    Other legislators are upset, including members of LePage's own party.

    "To interfere with someone's ability to make a living outside of this place is unprecedented," said Rep. Roger Katz (R-Augusta).

    Independent Rep. Ben Chipman said he and several other members of the House are exploring the impeachment process, and could take action as soon as Tuesday.

    "I might note that in other states, governors and elected officials have been removed from office for similar types of things," said Chipman. "It hasn't happened here, but it may happen now."

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