Gov. Paul LePage doesn’t understand how the state government’s system of check and balances works and is wrong to assert that his election to office gives him the right to use public money to “punish his political opponents,” according to a legal brief filed this week by an attorney for House Speaker Mark Eves.

The 24-page brief, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court by attorney David Webbert, was an objection to LePage’s motion in January to have a lawsuit brought against him by Eves dismissed.

The lawsuit accuses LePage of using taxpayer money and the power of his office to prevent Eves’ hiring as president of Good Will-Hinckley, a nonprofit in Fairfield that operates a charter school partly funded by the state.

Eves claims the school’s board of directors voted to rescind its offer to hire him after LePage threatened to eliminate $530,000 in state funding for the school. The Republican governor has sparred with the Democrat Eves, and has said he did not think Eves was the best person to run the school.

Eves filed the suit July 30, and is seeking damages from LePage. The motion to dismiss filed by LePage’s lawyer in January asserted that LePage’s job as governor entitles him to immunity.

The brief filed by Webbert Tuesday said that LePage “misunderstands the applicable law and the role of the judiciary” when he contends that a suit filed by a political opponent does not belong in court. The brief mentions several civil rights suits stemming from political disputes, including one that went to the U.S. Supreme Court.


“A federal civil rights lawsuit like this one is well established in our legal system as one of the most effective ways to protect the people of a State from a Governor’s abuses of power,” Webbert wrote.

Webbert concluded the brief by asking the court to deny LePage’s motion to dismiss. Webbert said that a written reply to his objection is due in court March 1.

LePage’s attorney, Patrick Strawbridge, declined to comment on the brief Wednesday night. He said he would be filing a reply brief responding to Eves’ arguments on or before March 1.


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