The Coastal Packet: Speaker sues LePage for blackmail

Friday, July 31

Speaker sues LePage for blackmail

Bangor Daily News - House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, filed a civil lawsuit against Gov. Paul LePage in U.S. District Court in Portland on Thursday afternoon.

The lawsuit alleges LePage “blackmailed’ Good Will-Hinckley — a Fairfield nonprofit that had recently hired Eves to be its president — by threatening to withhold state funding if the organization didn’t fire Eves.

The school did fire him, which Eves says was a result of LePage’s threat that the House speaker — in his legal arguments and public statements — said violated his civil rights.

“The governor’s actions clearly violate the First Amendment right of every Maine citizen to have their legislator speak freely and independently without the threat of the governor,” Eves said during a news conference Thursday outside the courthouse. “The time has come; Somebody has to stand up to say enough.”

In the lawsuit, Eves argues that LePage acted out of “personal rage, vindictiveness and partisan malice” in moving to get Eves fired. The effort to oust Eves from a job was “plain and simple retaliation and abuse of power,” said Eves’ attorney, David Webbert.

Webbert writes that the governor violated Eves’ rights to free speech, free association and political affiliation by seeking to deny him employment because of his political positions.

The governor’s office, which has not yet filed a court response, dismissed the lawsuit as political in nature.

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