Four Maine lawmakers have requested that Attorney General Janet Mills authorize a criminal investigation into the behavior and actions of Republican Gov. Paul LePage.

The lawmakers, three Democrats and one independent, say LePage has established a pattern of abuse of power in his five years as governor that has stymied voter-approved conservation projects, threatened the head of the state’s community college system, and blocked the hiring of a political enemy by a private school.

“We have to stand up to him,” said Democratic Rep. Ben Chipman of Portland. “That is what the people of Maine want. We’ve remained silent for too long. It’s about time that we stood up and held him accountable for his actions.”

The four lawmakers sent a letter to Mills on Friday asking her to investigate whether the governor committed a crime. They also asked that Kennebec and Somerset County District Attorney Meaghan Maloney investigate the governor’s actions, noting that LePage lives in her prosecutorial district.

Tim Feeley, the attorney general’s spokesman, declined to comment Monday, but the lawmakers provided a copy of an email verifying that their request had been received.

“The pattern of abuse of power is clear, there must be accountability,” the lawmakers said in their letter. They also said there is “probable cause,” based on the findings by the Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee, to investigate the governor for certain alleged crimes.

In their letter, the lawmakers allege that LePage committed extortion, exerted improper influence, committed oppression, and misused entrusted property.

“We’ve all been eyewitnesses to the unfolding of one abuse after another. The abuses came incrementally, but taken as a whole there has been a clear pattern of abuse,” independent Rep. Jeffrey Evangelos of Friendship, one of the four lawmakers, said Monday night. “Five years ago it went from amusing (behavior) to what it is now, outrageous. Most people in the state now realize something is horribly wrong.”

“My colleagues and I feel the governor should be held accountable for his actions,” said Rep. Charlotte Warren, D-Hallowell, on Monday night. “No one is above the law, not even the governor.”

Apart from the request to Mills, the lawmakers say they favor efforts to impeach the governor and are in the process of drafting an impeachment order.

The lawmakers said the governor’s admitted meddling in the hiring of House Speaker Mark Eves by Good Will-Hinckley serves as the most glaring example of the governor overstepping his executive authority.

LePage threatened to withhold discretionary state funds for Good Will-Hinckley unless the organization rescinded its offer to hire Eves as its president. Eves and the governor are political enemies. The job offer was eventually withdrawn and Eves has sued LePage.

“We feel that the governor broke the law when he leveraged public funds,” Chipman said.

The lawmakers also said that a criminal investigation should look closely at LePage’s threat to withhold state money from the Maine Community College System unless President John Fitzsimmons was fired, the establishment of a secret commission to investigate the Maine Human Rights Commission, and his obstruction of voter-approved conservation bonds under the Land for Maine’s Future program.

Evangelos, Chipman, Warren, and Anne “Pinny” Beebe-Center, a Democratic representative from Rockland, are the only legislators publicly named in the request to investigate LePage.

Adrienne Bennett, LePage’s press secretary, did not respond Monday night to a request for a response to the allegations.



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