We expect leaders to do the right thing, even when it’s uncomfortable or inconvenient.

That’s why we agreed with the actions taken after Rep. Scott Hamann, a South Portland Democrat, posted a profanity-laden Facebook rant threatening President Donald Trump. Party leaders immediately condemned his comments, and Hamann was stripped of his committee assignments.

While Hamann was just running his mouth, legislators must be held to a high standard, and he fell short. We asked then that Hamann apologize on the House floor and prove he could still work with his Republican colleagues, which he did. Hamann is not running for re-election.

Republican officials agreed with us then, but went a step further, repeatedly calling on Hamann to resign. “We have no faith in Rep. Hamman’s judgment following this scandal,” Jason Savage, Maine GOP executive director, said in a statement.

Now, faced with wrongdoing from within their own party, Republican leaders have been silent.

The scandal involves Republican Rep. Jeff Pierce of Dresden, and unlike in Hamann’s case, it appears a serious crime has been committed.

Pierce, now seeking his third term representing House District 53, was found guilty of felony drug trafficking in 1983, a conviction that now bars him from possessing firearms. Asked about the conviction after the Democratic Party brought it up earlier this month, Pierce said he was a “young, impressionable kid” who “made some dumb mistakes.”

Fair enough. We don’t expect leaders to be perfect, just that they own up to their mistakes and takes steps to make things right.

However, it appears that Pierce regularly hunts with a firearm, according to information reported by the Press Herald. Records from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife show that he has purchased multiple firearm hunting permits, and that he registered deer, moose and turkey shot with firearms in several hunting seasons between 2001 and 2012. Pierce initially told a reporter he hunted under an archery permit — of which no records were found — but declined comment when later asked about the firearm permits. The Maine Warden Service is investigating.

On Tuesday, he told TV station WMTW that what looks like a history of recent law-breaking should not be a story, and that ultimately voters will decide his fate.

The last part is true — Pierce’s name will be on the Nov. 6 ballot. We hope residents of District 53 consider not Pierce’s 1983 conviction — that is old news — but his apparent very recent indifference toward the law.

If the IF&W paper trail is correct, then Pierce repeatedly and knowingly committed a felony. Someone who does not believe the law applies to them should not be making laws.

But Pierce’s actions also cry out for leadership. They cast a shadow over the work of the Legislature, just as Hamann’s Facebook post did. And just as we did with Hamann, we ask that Pierce explain his actions and how he can be trusted now to vote on legislation governing criminal law.

We would hope that after standing up so clearly for the sanctity of the Legislature when Hamann erred, Republicans would do the same in Pierce’s case. However, GOP House leaders Ken Fredette and Ellie Espling have not commented.

We hope it’s not because we are less than a week from an election that will decide control of the closely divided House, and ignoring the allegations makes it much easier for the Republicans to hold that seat.

If so, we’ll borrow a sarcastic line from Savage, who in the days after Hamann’s post pestered Democratic House Speaker Sara Gideon to speak up: “Such courageous leaders.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: