The chief of the Maine Capitol Police is apologizing for a series of social media posts that promote the same conspiracy theories that inspired Trump extremists to storm the U.S. Capitol last week.
Chief Russ Gauvin apologized for Facebook posts mocking the use of masks as a means of preventing the spread of COVID-19, questioning the validity of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory and sympathy for the views of a former Maine police officer who called for violence against Black Lives Matter protesters.
The posts, first reported by the Portland alternative magazine Mainer, have since been deleted, as has Gauvin’s account on the now-defunct Parler, a social media site shutdown after it was used to organize and document last week’s insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
In a statement, Gauvin said the posts were not a reflection of his commitment to protecting the Capitol.
“In response to an article that came out today, I recognize that several posts that I have shared, commented on, or reacted to in a personal capacity can be seen as inconsistent with my professional responsibilities,” Gauvin said. “My focus has always been to be fair and support law enforcement professionals. I certainly never intended for my social media account to ever bring my commitment to fair and professional law enforcement into question. I apologize for giving this impression and have removed my personal social media accounts. I want to assure Maine people of my continued commitment to upholding the laws of the State of Maine, the policies of Maine government, and to protecting the safety and welfare of all its people. As Chief of Capitol Police, and as a longtime law enforcement officer, I take seriously my duty to uphold our laws, to do so in a fair and impartial way, and to protect the Capitol and our people.”
In a separate statement, Gov. Janet Mills said the posts were concerning and that Gauvin is under review.
“Chief Gauvin’s apology is warranted, and he has assured us of his commitment to upholding his duties and responsibilities, regardless of any personal beliefs,” she said. “We are troubled and concerned by what we have read and have asked that the matter be reviewed through existing personnel process to determine whether any State policies were violated.”
The Maine Capitol Police generally oversees security of the State House and Capitol complex. The Maine Department of Public Safety is overseeing security at the complex for the next few days amid concerns that armed far-right extremists might protest Biden’s pending inauguration.
Updated 1:21 p.m. Jan. 16 to clarify that the Department of Public Safety is overseeing the security plan.