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Politics

Former Maine US Senate candidate accused of pointing gun at man over crypto dispute

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Brianna Soukup
/
Portland Press Herald via BDN
Independent U.S. Senate candidate Max Linn speaks at a Portland debate held by News Center Maine, the Bangor Daily News and the Portland Press Herald on Sept. 11, 2020.

A Bar Harbor businessman who waged a failed U.S. Senate bid last year pointed a gun at a former campaign staffer in a dispute over a cryptocurrency investment, court documents allege.

Max Linn denies the allegations made by his former assistant, Matt McDonald, who was involved in his two U.S. Senate campaigns in 2018 and 2020.

It’s the latest episode in Linn’s strange public life. He was removed from the Republican primary ballot three years ago after nominating petitions featured fraudulent signatures purported to be from Mainers who had died. Then, he got only 1.6 percent of votes in a 2020 race won by Sen. Susan Collins in which he gained attention for debate theatrics.

The relationship between Linn and his former assistant went downhill this year, according to a protection-from-harassment order application filed by McDonald against Linn in a Ellsworth court on Wednesday.

McDonald alleged Linn gave him money in the middle of 2021 to invest in cryptocurrency on his behalf. Linn then went to Indonesia with his wife for a few months. When he returned, Linn wanted to instead use the cryptocurrency to buy drugs from Indonesia that are falsely touted as COVID-19 cures, over McDonald’s objections, the document said.

When McDonald met with Linn in Bar Harbor in late summer to resolve the dispute, Linn pointed a handgun in his direction, McDonald said. He told the court he spent the last month or so ensuring his family’s safety and sought the order on the advice of police.

“I went to court because I believe my family could be in danger,” McDonald told the Bangor Daily News.

Linn’s Ellsworth-based attorney, Steve Juskewitch, denied that Linn wanted to buy drugs and that he threatened McDonald with a gun, although he confirmed that Linn gave McDonald $225,000 to invest in cryptocurrency on his behalf.

Juskewitch said he was closing in on a deal with McDonald in recent days to transfer access to McDonald, but he has not agreed to it. The lawyer called McDonald’s allegations against Linn “pure fabrication to divert attention from the cryptocurrency dispute.”

Linn is a wealthy retired financial planner who spent the core part of his business career in Florida, where he colorfully ran for several offices including governor as a Reform Party candidate in 2006. During that campaign, he landed a small plane on a public highway in Orlando.

He surfaced in Maine politics in early 2018 as a Republican aping then-President Donald Trump. He got on the ballot two years after that failed run as an independent in the nationally targeted race in which he finished last behind Collins, Democrat Sara Gideon and independent Lisa Savage.

Linn conducted a series of attention-grabbing stunts during the campaign, most notably when he discussed unrelated subjects in response to questions at a debate held by the Bangor Daily News, News Center Maine and the Portland Press Herald, saying “request denied” to a moderator who asked him to stay on topic.

A temporary protection order was granted to McDonald by a judge on Wednesday, directing Linn to not contact or go near his former assistant. A hearing on the order has been scheduled for Nov. 17 in Hancock County District Court in Ellsworth.

BDN writer Lia Russell contributed to this report.

This story appears through a partnership with the Bangor Daily News.