Host of Aroostook Watchmen denies he sent legal warning to lobbyists, lawmakers

Jack McCarthy — a conspiracy theorist who hosts the Aroostook Watchmen radio show and is a member of the group that, controversially, met with Gov. Paul LePage eight times last year — is denying he ever sent a bizarre legal notice to hundreds of state officials, lobbyists and others involved in Maine politics.

You’ve probably seen the post I wrote yesterday detailing how McCarthy had sent a “courtesy notice” — a bogus Sovereign Citizen “legal document” — to a slew of people involved with what happens under the State House dome.

If you haven’t read that, please do. I’m not going to retell the story here, and you’ll need that background before you keep going.

Hours after the post went live, McCarthy commented to say it wasn’t him that sent the emails. He’s so upset about the blog post that he cold-called me this morning, live from his radio show.

He introduced himself as Jack McCarthy, “the flesh and blood person” (more Sovereign speak, if you didn’t already know) and told me we were on the air. We got disconnected once, but he called back. It was pretty clear that I was on the air to be berated.

I didn’t speak with him long — I wished him a good day and hung up after telling him that I would be more than happy to speak with him without being ambushed on the radio show (generally, I don’t speak on the air as a representative of the BDN without talking with my boss first, and I sure as hell don’t do it without any advance notice).

Here’s what we know

Though the sender identified himself as Jack McCarthy, the email sent to hundreds of people on Wednesday came from a different email address than the one that has been associated with McCarthy before. I didn’t think much of this, because It’s not unusual for people to have more than one email address — I have several, as do most people I know.

The idea of someone impersonating someone else via email is obviously possible, but unlikely, to say the least. Reporters get dozens of emails every day, from people in all walks of life and with varying attachments to reality. I’ve never had anyone claim to be impersonated before.

The document sent included the same type of unorthodox legal thinking we’ve seen in other docs sent by McCarthy or members of his group. The tactic of spamming lots of officials at once with a slew of demands and warnings in near-indecipherable attempts at legalese is also one we’ve seen from the group before.

What I’ve done

Last night, I updated the blog post about the email to say the email “apparently” came from McCarthy, though I probably could have more clearly identified the updates. I’ve reached out to both emails associated with McCarthy’s name, but only heard back from one, in which McCarthy repeated he didn’t send the email and asked me how I got his email address.

Here’s the possible scenarios

1. McCarthy has two email addresses and is the person who sent the email. He’s now seeking to distance himself from it, for some reason.

McCarthy has walked back on public comments before. He told his radio listeners that during a meeting with LePage, he had discussed hanging some lawmakers, and recalled telling the governor “Hallelujah, let’s hang a few and be done with it!” Last week, he told me he didn’t really say that.

2. There’s two people named Jack McCarthy, who hold similarly unusual beliefs.

3. Someone is impersonating Jack McCarthy.

I guess it’s going to be up to you guys to decide what you think is most likely. But what can’t be lost in all this is that somebody sent this legal warning notice to hundreds of prominent Mainers.

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.