Two retired attorneys have organized a rally to support an investigation and possible impeachment of Gov. Paul LePage.
The governor created a firestorm of controversy last week when he used the threat of lost state funding to get Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves fired from Good Will-Hinckley, a nonprofit organization that runs a charter school for at risk kids, which had recently hired Eves as its new president.
Cushing Samp is a 63-year-old Republican from Saco, and one of the rally’s organizers. She said Monday that she contacted her friend Becky Halbrook, 68, of Phippsburg after reading about the controversy in the newspaper.
“As far as I was concerned, I was happy to just have it be me, standing up, saying this is my declaration of conscience, that this cannot be allowed to continue,” Samp said. “She pointed out that the message is a little more effective with more people … With the attacks against the speaker, he’s crossed the boundary into, in my opinion, McCarthyism. He’s tried to destroy the life of another human being, using his office as governor to do that. That’s just beyond the pale.”
The duo took to Facebook and email to organized the event. The pair said they expect at least 100 people to attend the rally, scheduled for noon outside the State House’s south entrance.
Halbrook said her goal is to support lawmakers such as independent Reps. Jeffrey Evangelos of Friendship and Ben Chipman of Portland, Democratic Rep. Charlotte Warren of Hallowell and GOP Sen. Tom Saviello of Wilton, who have requested a formal inquiry into LePage’s actions by the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability, the Legislature’s independent watchdog group.
“We can’t stand still and let these people be out there without support, and in fact, we need to support all of the Legislature. The train is leaving the station, and we need action ASAP,” said Halbrook, who is chairwoman of the Phippsburg Democrats but said the rally is not sponsored by any political group.
“We feel confident in attracting Democrats, Republicans, Independents and none-of-the-above. This is a citizen’s rally, rising up, standing up to say this is no good. We know wrong when we see it, and we think we’ve seen it.”
Halbrook and Samp invited Evangelos, Chipman and Warren to speak at their rally, and the trio said Monday they would oblige. Evangelos, who since the scandal broke has been one of the governor’s loudest critics, described the rally as “a spontaneous rebellion.”
“Let me tell you, I think there may be a crowd there tomorrow,” he said.
Perhaps as a response to Halbrook and Samp’s rally, a pro-LePage gathering will also be held at the State House on Tuesday. Hosted by the conservative Maine Citizens Coalition, that event is scheduled for 9:30 a.m.