IRS union leader demands apology from LePage

Add the president of the union representing Internal Revenue Service employees to the list of people calling for Gov. Paul LePage to apologize for his recent remark calling the IRS “the new Gestapo.”

“As the proud representative of IRS employees, including many who live and work in Maine, I was greatly offended by your scurrilous and absurd comparison of these loyal Americans to the murderous secret police behind one of the darkest events in human history,” Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, wrote Tuesday in a letter to LePage.

LePage made the Gestapo reference on Saturday in his weekly radio address, in which he said the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to mostly uphold the Affordable Care Act would make the United States less free.

The governor back-tracked on Monday, saying he didn’t mean to insult anyone, especially the Jewish community, with his reference to Hitler’s secret police and that his use of the term Gestapo had “clouded” his message. His spokeswoman, Adrienne Bennett, also said a follow-up radio address is in the works for the coming weekend.

While LePage stopped short of apologizing for the Gestapo reference in his public statement, the governor did apologize in a private phone call to Emily Chaleff, executive director of the Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine. Chaleff and Bennett confirmed this.

“He’s not going to use the media to apologize,” Bennett said Monday. “He’s going to go straight to the source. It has more meaning for him to reach out directly to someone than to do a blanket statement through the media.”

So in response to multiple demands for an apology, Maine residents saw no public apology. Instead, they got a public acknowledgment that he apologized privately.