LePage, Eves continue sparring over governor’s ‘absolute immunity’ claim

Good morning from Augusta, where Gov. Paul LePage and his attorney continue to claim “absolute immunity” for the governor regarding the lawsuit against him by House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick.

In a legal argument filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court, LePage attorney Patrick Strawbridge rebuffs Eves’ claims on several fronts, many of them centered around whether LePage has immunity from legal action for his role in forcing Eves out of a job at Good Will-Hinckley in Fairfield in June 2015 by threatening to withhold taxpayer funds.

“Flail as he might, the speaker simply cannot state a cognizable claim,” wrote LePage’s legal team. “The issues in this case can be addressed through the political process by the people of Maine, or perhaps in a contract action between the speaker and his former employer. This case should be dismissed.”

The Republican governor’s filing is the latest legal salvo in response to a Feb. 9 filing by Eves’ attorney, David Webbert, which called LePage’s immunity claims “astonishingly broad.” Webbert continued that argument in a written statement on Thursday and called LePage’s argument “dangerous” to the Democratic process.

“The governor’s extreme views are without historical or legal precedent and are contrary to clearly established federal constitutional rights,” wrote Webbert. “The governor wants a one-party government for Maine, without the checks and balances that get in his way, but that is not what our Maine Constitution and our federal Constitution say.”

The paper is going to continue to fly in this case for a while. Stay tuned. — Christopher Cousins

Greens to begin caucuses Saturday; lose Biddeford Senate candidate

On Saturday, the Maine Green Independent Party will kick off its set of municipal presidential caucuses. It’ll start with local caucuses in Biddeford, Machias, Limerick, Mount Vernon, Dixmont, East Machias, Northfield and Marshfield.

Those are among the 25 caucuses scheduled now through March 19, according to the party’s website. The party’s presumptive presidential nominee is Jill Stein, a Massachusetts doctor who was also the 2012 nominee.

Maine is a national stronghold for Greens, but they’re still on the fringe of state politics, with more than 40,000 active members making up just over 4 percent of the state voter base.

The party is even less of a factor in presidential politics: Stein got 456,000 votes — or just over two-thirds of a percentage point of the total — in 2012.

Speaking of the Maine Greens, this week we reported in the Daily Brief that their candidate, Alan Brown, joined the March 29 special election campaign for a Biddeford-area Senate seat vacated by the resignation of Sen. David Dutremble.

His campaign didn’t last long. Brown said in a Thursday email that he has withdrawn from the race.

“I talked with the election commission and have sent a withdrawal notice today,” wrote Brown. “The polls will have a sign stating that any vote case for me will not count.”

Among his reasons for withdrawal was the fact that he will be traveling in May and will not be able to attend legislative sessions, should the session last that long. — Michael Shepherd and Christopher Cousins

Quick hits

  • Republicans and Democrats on the Legislature’s Insurance and Financial Services Committee voted Thursday to endorse different versions of a bill from Sen. Rodney Whittemore, R-Skowhegan, which would require health insurance carriers to incentivize comparison shopping. Both versions move to the Legislature for consideration.
  • LePage will hold his next town hall meeting on Tuesday in Waldoboro. It’ll be at Medomak Middle School from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. — Michael Shepherd

Reading list

Want to insult a politician? Send them a box of rocks.

We got a Wednesday press release from Dumb as a Box of Rocks, a company that offers a mail-order service where you can send politicians “actual rocks” in a box emblazoned with the phrase, “You Are As Dumb As A Box Of Rocks.”

The company’s owner said in a statement that it’s “a unique way to tell your not-so-favorite politician that their idiotic viewpoint or actions have insulted your intelligence.”

The rock boxes cost $14.95 including shipping and they’re shipped via U.S. mail, so the package “cannot be denied delivery.” You can automatically send it to all governors and members of Congress or enter your own address.

We’re not encouraging or discouraging rock deliveries, but we’re all about public service here at the Daily Brief, so here’s a handy guide on how send mail to both chambers of the Maine Legislature. Here’s your soundtrack. — Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd

About Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after covering state, federal and local issues for the Kennebec Journal for three years. He's a Hallowell native who now lives in Gardiner. He graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and is a graduate student at the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service.