Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R), who’s been referred to as “America’s craziest governor,” is known for his brash leadership style and off-color, at times vulgar remarks.
But LePage has now potentially moved beyond personal insults and into the territory of real injury. He was accused last week of blackmailing a charter school that hired the state’s House speaker, Democrat Mark Eves, as president by threatening to withhold $500,000 in state funding unless Eves was fired.
Here are five of the most outlandish things LePage has said and done during his tenure as “America’s craziest governor.”
‘Giving it to the people without Vaseline’
During a heated budget battle in 2013, LePage said then-state Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson (D) “claims to be for the people but he’s the first one to give it to the people without providing Vaseline.”
The off-color remark has followed LePage ever since. Earlier this year, a former Democratic mayor and state legislator tossed a jar of Vaseline at the governor during a town hall meeting, bringing the event to a premature end.
Meeting with sovereign citizens
LePage held at least eight meetings with so-called “sovereign citizens” over a period of nine months in 2013, according to local blogger Mike Tipping’s book “As Maine Went: Governor Paul LePage and the Tea Party Takeover of Maine.” Sovereign citizens reject governmental authority and are considered domestic terrorists by the FBI.
The sovereign citizens who met with LePage had claimed that the governor discussed arresting and hanging the state’s Democratic House speaker and Senate president with them. LePage repeatedly disputed their assertions, saying “we did not discuss execution, arrest or hanging.”
‘We might as well go home … and get our guns out’
LePage once went on a rant about the Second Amendment and freedom of speech after Democrats blocked him from speaking about the state budget with an appropriations committee.
“The minute we start stifling our speech, we might as well go home, roll up our sleeves and get our guns out,” the governor said.
Advocating child labor
LePage invoked his own experience working at a younger age to argue that allowing 12-year-olds to work would boost Maine’s economy. He has pushed to lower the state’s legal working age to 12, arguing “We don’t allow children to work until they’re 16, but two years later, when they’re 18, they can go to war and fight for us.”
Joking about shooting a political cartoonist
LePage has long let Maine’s press corps know exactly how he feels about them, from threatening not to offer comment to any newspapers who opposed his administration to joking about blowing up the offices of The Portland Press Herald. LePage also got personal last Wednesday with the teenaged son of a political cartoonist whom the governor isn’t particularly fond of.
LePage was speaking at a youth leadership event when Nick Denby, the son of Bangor Daily News cartoonist George Denby, asked the governor what he thought of his father’s cartoons; in response, LePage reportedly joked that he’d like to shoot the cartoonist. George Denby later told The Huffington Post that he didn’t appreciate the joke, particularly in light of the January terror attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.