Two Republican lawmakers in the Maine House were censured Thursday for saying that the mass shooting in Lewiston and recent storms were God’s punishment for last year’s expansion of abortion and other “immoral” laws passed by the Democrat-controlled Legislature.

The House voted unanimously to censure Rep. Michael Lemelin, R-Chelsea, and Rep. Shelley Rudnicki, R-Fairfield, after Lemelin drew a connection between the Oct. 25 mass shooting that killed 18 people and injured 13 others and a new law expanding access to abortion, which took effect the same day.

Lemelin and Rudnicki were not allowed to participate in the vote. They were called to stand in front of House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross, D-Portland. Lemelin stood with his hands in his pockets while she read the censure and were then escorted back to their seats by the sergeant-at-arms.

Talbot Ross had told Lemelin and Rudnicki earlier that they would need to issue a formal apology on the House floor before they would be allowed to speak on business because they violated the rules.

Reps. Michael Lemelin, R-Chelsea and Shelley Rudnicki, R-Fairfield, stand in the well of the House of Representatives chamber listening to Speaker of the House Rachel Talbot Ross, D-Portland, read a censure motion against them Thursday at the Maine State House in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

The speaker said their comments “are deserving of the most serious consequences this body can deliver.”


“To make satisfaction, you must issue a formal apology, which you will read on the House floor,” Talbot Ross said in a letter to each representative Thursday morning. “You must accept sole and full responsibility for the incident and publicly apologize to your constituents, the victims and families of the Lewiston tragedy, the greater Lewiston community, and the people of Maine.”

Both lawmakers read the same, short statement accepting responsibility and apologizing to the House and the people connected to the tragedy:

“I accept full responsibility for my remarks on the House floor on the evening of April 10, 2024. I publicly apologize for my colleagues in the House, the people connected to the horrible events of Oct. 25 and the state of Maine.”

Lemelin left the chambers immediately afterward.

After a censure motion was read Thursday, Rep. Shelley Rudnicki, R-Fairfield, stood at her desk on the House floor and apologized for supporting comments that God caused the Lewiston mass shooting because of the Legislature’s vote on abortion last year. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

During a floor debate Wednesday, Lemelin said that God “draws a line in the sand and when we cross that line there’s consequences” to immoral activity.

“Meditate on this, Madam Speaker,” Lemelin said. “When (L.D.) 1619 passed and went into law on Oct. 25, you told God life doesn’t matter. … God heard you and the horrible events on Oct. 25 happened.”


Lemelin was ruled out of order by Talbot Ross for impugning the character of other members. But that didn’t stop Rudnicki from chiming in.

“I just want to stand and say that I agree with Rep. Lemelin and everything he said,” Rudnicki said.

The comments, made at the end of a heated floor debate, drew swift condemnation by House Democrats and Lewiston Mayor Carl Sheline.

“That is absolutely out of order, not germane to the bill and absolutely offensive,” House Majority Leader Mo Terry, D-Gorham, protested.

“The statements made by Representatives Lemelin and Rudnicki are completely outside the standards for political behavior and discourse. Maine deserves better,” Sheline said Thursday.

Assistant House Majority Leader Kristen Cloutier, D-Lewiston, blasted the Republicans in a written statement late Wednesday night, calling Lemelin’s remarks and Rudnicki’s endorsement “reprehensible,” saying that they should be “universally condemned by anyone who has even an ounce of basic human decency.”


“We are dismayed by this stunning lack of respect, deeply troubling absence of empathy and infuriating disregard for the victims, their families and everyone in our community whose hearts remain shattered by this horrific act of senseless violence,” Cloutier said.

Assistant Minority Leader Amy Arata, R-New Gloucester, said Thursday afternoon that the statements “do not reflect the opinion of the Republican Party.”

Rep. Michael Lemelin, R-Chelsea, watches from the back of the House of Representatives chamber before a censure motion against him Thursday at the Maine State House in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

She declined to elaborate, saying that her vote on the censure motion should speak for itself.

House Minority Leader Billy Bob Faulkingham, R-Winter Harbor, did not respond to questions about Lemelin’s comments Thursday morning.


Lemelin was called out by several fellow Republicans in the House.


Rep. Rachel Henderson, R-Rumford, called Lemelin’s statements “reprehensible” and “heresy,” in an emotional floor speech.

“Although it’s not my place, I apologize to every member who is there and heard that and took offense,” Henderson said. “I’m proud of where I stand. I’m proud of the positions that I take, but tonight I am not proud to be a Republican. I am not proud to have an ‘R’ in front of my name.”

“Nowhere in the Bible do I see where the word of God is to be used as a weapon against people or where we are told to speak on behalf of God to express his wrath to the people. … Those statements are reprehensible and ones that I do not support and I do not get behind,” she said.

Rep. Nathan Carlow, R-Buxton, said he agreed with Henderson and commended her for her “bravery and faith.”

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