Gov. Paul LePage once again briefly united Republicans and Democrats in an act of bipartisan condemnation after he personally insulted a Republican state senator and stormed out of a legislative committee on Monday. The Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee was meeting to discuss a new report by the nonpartisan Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability (OPEGA), which found no evidence that the governor diverted wood deliveries from public lands to punish sawmill owners who publicly criticized him.

Back in March, the governor challenged lawmakers to request the investigation after members of the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry committee, which oversees Maine’s public lands, questioned why logs were not delivered to sawmills owned by brothers Jason and Chris Brochu, who had spoken out against the governor’s position on Canadian wood tariffs. At the time, some political observers drew comparisons to other situations in which the governor used his political power to smite his opponents, such as when he threatened to withhold public money from Good Will-Hinckley in order to force it to fire former Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves as its president.

During an incediary March ACF hearing, the governor called committee co-chair Sen. Tom Saviello (R-Franklin Cty.) a “hypocrite” and accused the committee of waging “a political witch hunt” against his administration. Speaking before the Government Oversight Committee on Monday, LePage once again lit up the committee room with an unhinged tirade, demanding an apology from the ACF committee and accusing Saviello of “fabricating” the story that he had diverted log deliveries from the Brochu mills, Pleasant River Lumber and Moose River Lumber.

“I was not involved in diversion. This information came from Senator Saviello,” said LePage. “Whether he fabricated it or it was fabricated by the owners of PRL and Moose River, I have no idea. But I will tell you, I am a person who does not need to go behind people’s backs.”

Saviello reiterated his initial statement back in March that the committee had not “accused anyone of breaking the law” but wanted more information to decide whether to reform the law.







“So, first of all, I don’t fabricate anything,” said Saviello. “That’s not my style. I just deal with the facts.”

“You’ve been doing it for eight years, sir!” the governor bellowed.

Sen. Roger Katz (R-Kennebec Cty.), the GOC co-chair, responded that he had not heard anyone accuse the governor of anything.

“Bull!” shouted the governor and turned to Saviello. “This man over here is the most repugnant human being I have ever seen in my life.”

“Governor, respectfully, sir, you’re out of order,” Katz said.

“Thank you,” said LePage and stormed out of the room.

“Mr. Chair, I will not tolerate being bullied like everybody else,” said Saviello. “That’s totally unacceptable and unnecessary. I’m glad that he walked out of the room.”

“It doesn’t matter who is here,” said Katz. “There is a certain level of decorum and respect for the legislative process we need to maintain. Those remarks were out of order.”

“Mr. Chair,” Sen Paul Davis (R- Piscataquis Cty.) piped up, “the ACF Committee will not be apologizing, and I would suggest that if the apology is needed it should come from the governor’s office to us.”

The committee then recessed for a few minutes before coming back to the horseshoe and unanimously agreeing to draft a letter to the governor requesting an apology for his behavior.

“We just saw today what is wrong with politics today,” said Katz. “The kind of personal attack by the governor on a member of our committee was totally uncalled for and, in my view, unworthy of the chief executive of the state of Maine. What we need in our politics is civil and respectful discourse. This was the polar opposite. It can’t be allowed to stand.”

But given LePage’s legendary history of crude and vicious attacks against his adversaries, it could be a sweltering hot day on Mount Washington before they get a sincere apology from this governor. Or he may just go with his usual damage-control strategy: make a half-hearted apology and then attack the press for reporting on the incident in the first place.