LePage urges NFL to take ‘thugs and wife beaters off the field’ in letter to Goodell

Gov. Paul LePage, left, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. BDN and USA Today file photos.

Gov. Paul LePage, left, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. BDN and USA Today file photos.

In a letter dated Tuesday, Gov. Paul LePage implored NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to change the league’s policy on punishment for players who commit acts of domestic violence, and urged Goodell to atone for perceived leniency by making a big donation to an anti-domestic violence group.

“I urge you to take the life-and-death matter of domestic violence seriously,” LePage wrote. “… I understand the NFL is a big business. Taking thugs and wife beaters off the field may be bad for business, but you are playing games with people’s lives.”

In the letter, (here), LePage takes issue with the league’s actions regarding Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, who allegedly beat his then-fiancee unconscious in Atlantic City back in February.

Rice has been indicted on a domestic violence charge and faces up to five years in jail time, but the NFL was content with handing him just a two-game  suspension. Rice and his alleged victim have since married.

LePage recounted his own history with domestic violence, of being beaten by his alcoholic father as a child, and criticized the league for dispensing stiffer punishments for drug abuse or “personal misconduct” than it does for domestic violence.

He also told Goodell that the commissioner should use the popularity of the NFL to “send a very strong message that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated.”

“To take a high-profile stand against domestic violence and set an example for the NFL — and the nation — you could personally donate a significant sum to an organization that works to end domestic violence or provides services to victims. All of them are in need of funding. You have a luxurious, multi-million-dollar home on the coast of Maine. Surely, you can spare the change.”

The governor discussed his feelings on the George Hale Ric Tyler Show last week, as described here on State & Capitol, and discussed his letter to Goodell during his weekly radio address, released today.

One more thing …

Did anyone else see this attack ad against LePage online earlier this week?

The ad — seemingly created by the national American Bridge 21st Century, a Democratic super PAC — criticizes the Republican’s efforts to make it harder to get food stamps,  administer drug tests on some welfare recipients, and other proposals that LePage has described as welfare reform.

The ad, however, describes the policy goals as a “war on the poor” (sound familiar?), and even ends with some truly bizarre sword noises and what sounds like a microwave’s ding.

It was posted online as of Monday, but has since been removed by the user. Maine Republican Party spokesman David Sorensen sent along a saved copy of the video. He noted that the video is only 53 seconds long, rather than the full 60, indicating it may have been unfinished. The video includes a WCSH clip from July 25 of this year, so we know it’s relatively fresh.

The video creator tries its best to portray LePage’s welfare agenda in a negative light, but I’m not sure how successful it is.

The whole ad has this Rorschach test feel to it; I can’t help but think those people who agree with the governor’s views on welfare would likely see nothing wrong with the quotes and policy proposals presented by LePage during the clip, while his opponents and critics would undoubtedly take a more negative view.

For what it’s worth, I reached out to the American Bridge 21st Century yesterday for comment, but received none.

Mario Moretto

About Mario Moretto

Mario Moretto has been a Maine journalist, in print and online publications, since 2009. He joined the Bangor Daily News in 2012, first as a general assignment reporter in his native Hancock County and, now, in the State House. Mario left the BDN in 2015.