Listen: LePage Threatens Democratic Lawmaker, Leaves Obscene Voicemail
Gov. Paul LePage left a Democratic lawmaker a profanity-laced voicemail, daring him to come to Augusta and prove that the governor is a racist.
The voicemail drew a swift response from Democratic leaders, who said in a statement that the message threatened violence and that the governor is not fit for office.
The voicemail was first reported by the Portland Press Herald. The newspaper also reported comments LePage made during an interview at the Blaine House. In that interview the governor called Rep. Drew Gattine a “snot-nosed little guy from Westbrook” and described a fantasy in which he and Gattine would have a duel.
“And we would have a duel, that’s how angry I am, and I would not put my gun in the air, I guarantee you, I would not be [Alexander] Hamilton,” LePage says. “I would point it right between his eyes, because he is a snot-nosed little runt and he has not done a damn thing since he’s been in the Legislature to help move the state forward.”
Hamilton died in a duel with Aaron Burr after first firing his pistol into the air.
Gattine provided a copy of the voicemail to Maine Public Radio News Friday morning. The governor is noticeably angry in the audio.
(Warning: This voicemail contains obscene language)
“Mr. Gattine, this is Gov. Paul Richard LePage,” a recording of the governor’s phone message says. “I would like to talk to you about your comments about my being a racist, you (expletive). I want to talk to you. I want you to prove that I’m a racist. I’ve spent my life helping black people and you little son of a bitch, socialist (expletive). You … I need you to, just friggin’. I want you to record this and make it public because I am after you. Thank you.”
LePage responded in a press release late morning Friday.
"When someone calls me a racist, I take it very seriously," LePage says in the statement. "I didn’t know Drew Gattine from a hole in the wall until yesterday. It made me enormously angry when a TV reporter asked me for my reaction about Gattine calling me a racist. It is the absolute worst, most vile thing you can call a person. So I called Gattine and used the worst word I could think of. I apologize for that to the people of Maine, but I make no apology for trying to end the drug epidemic that is ravaging our state."
The governor’s voicemail and comments to reporters follows a series of controversies that have unfolded since Wednesday. First, LePage reintroduced racially charged comments he made in January during a town hall meeting in North Berwick.
In January the governor said black drug dealers were infiltrating the state and impregnating “white girls” in Maine. The remark prompted a widespread response in which he was accused of being racist. LePage apologized for offending people, but claimed that the media was to blame for inferring a racial component.
On Wednesday, he doubled down on the initial comments, saying 90 percent of all drug dealers in Maine are black or Hispanic. He then said that he kept a three-ring binder of mugshots, presumably to reinforce the point.
He told the Press Herald that he had his staff call jails seeking copies of the mugshots because he believed that the newspaper wasn’t running the photos to hide the racial identities of those arrested for trafficking.
On Friday, Democratic leaders released a joint statement that read, “Paul LePage is not mentally or emotionally fit to hold office. His words and actions have crossed a line. Threats of violence are never acceptable and cannot be tolerated in civilized society.”
This story will be updated.