House Speaker Mark Eves plans to file an additional charge in his federal lawsuit against Paul LePage later this month, accusing the governor of also violating state law by using intimidation to prevent Eves’ hiring by a private school in Fairfield.

The anticipated move comes as the Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee is set to meet Thursday to decide what action to take, if any, after hearing testimony from witnesses last month in its investigation into the matter.

Attorney David Webbert, who represents Eves in the civil suit, said he plans to file an amended complaint against LePage in U.S. District Court in Bangor on Dec. 18, the earliest opportunity under state law. The filing will include new details gleaned from two days of testimony last month before the Government Oversight Committee and add the new charge against LePage – intentional interference with employment by intimidation – beyond the federal claims Eves made when he first filed the suit on July 30, Webbert said.

Eves, a Democrat, has accused LePage, a Republican, of using taxpayer money and the power of the governor’s office to prevent his hiring as president of Good Will-Hinckley, which operates a charter school partly funded by the state.

Eves claims the board of directors at Good Will-Hinckley voted on June 24 to rescind his job offer only after LePage threatened to eliminate $530,000 in annual state funding for the school.

“Acting out of personal rage, vindictiveness, and partisan malice, in June 2015 Gov. Paul LePage blackmailed a private school that serves at-risk children in order to force it to fire its president, the Speaker of Maine’s House of Representatives,” Webbert wrote in the original complaint.


The original complaint accused LePage of knowingly breaking federal law by threatening the chairman of Good Will-Hinckley’s board in a handwritten note. By making the alleged threat to eliminate the school’s state funding, LePage jeopardized over $2 million in private donations that the school needed to remain open, the complaint states.

The upcoming additional charge in the lawsuit comes as no surprise, since Webbert filed a formal notice with the governor’s office in August of his intent to bring the charge. But the announced Dec. 18 filing date will set proceedings in motion before the court, after the case sat idle for months.

“Under Maine state law, I have to wait 120 days after filing the notice of claim before bringing the state law claim in court,” Webbert said in an interview Wednesday. “In addition, I want to add in the information from recent testimony before the GOC and need time to review the official transcripts I have obtained.”

LePage’s attorney in the civil suit, Patrick Strawbridge, said he was aware of Eves’ plans to file an amended complaint and has been waiting until then before filing the governor’s response to the lawsuit with the court.

“We anticipate the governor will be able to respond in court soon, and we look forward to doing so,” Strawbridge said.

The governor’s spokeswoman, Adrienne Bennett, did not respond to a phone message seeking additional comment.


Webbert said he does not expect any action taken by the Government Oversight Committee to have bearing on the lawsuit.

The committee had issued subpoenas to force several high-ranking officials in LePage’s administration to testify on Nov. 12. The committee’s investigation has proceeded even though LePage acknowledged on June 30 that he threatened to pull the school’s funding.

A report released Sept. 8 by the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability, the watchdog agency that is directed by the oversight panel, found that the funding threat directly led to the school’s decision to withdraw its job offer to Eves.

“The decision of the GOC is very unlikely to have any significant effect on the lawsuit. However, the testimony and other documents and facts discovered by the OPEGA investigation will be used in the lawsuit,” Webbert said.


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