Unlikely LePage impeachment bid could hit House floor Wednesday

The sponsor of the bid to oust Gov. Paul LePage from office released an impeachment order on Monday that could be taken up when lawmakers return to Augusta on Wednesday.

But it’s hard to overstate how unlikely it is to move forward: On Monday, House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe, D-Skowhegan, who will likely preside over the House as it considers the order, said, “At this time, I’m probably not going to support impeachment.”

The order, sponsored by Rep. Ben Chipman, D-Portland, lists eight counts against the Republican governor, including threatening to withhold funding for Good Will-Hinckley after it hired House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, to be its president.

Eves has sued LePage in federal court, but he hasn’t backed impeachment, which has been advocated by Chipman, Reps. Jeff Evangelos, I-Friendship, and Charlotte Warren, D-Hallowell.

The impeachment effort deflated a bit last month, when Attorney General Janet Mills and Kennebec County District Attorney Maeghan Maloney, both Democrats, announced last week that LePage won’t face a criminal investigation in the Eves matter.

Still, Chipman said the order could be taken up on either Wednesday or Thursday. The Maine Constitution doesn’t spell out much of a process for impeachment, only saying that it must start in the House and it must be tried in the Senate.

If passed, the order would set up a 13-person committee of House members appointed by Eves — who would likely designate that authority to someone else — to investigate the counts. Seven members would be picked upon the recommendation of House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, R-Newport. The committee would issue a report and recommendation to the Legislature.

There was a related diversion on Monday as well: Rep. Justin Chenette, D-Saco, announced that he’d submit a request to the Legislative Council to allow lawmakers to consider an emergency bill that would establish a legislative recall process in Maine.

All of this shouldn’t get far, however. Assistant House Majority Leader Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, said members “have no intention of creating a spectacle” that distracts from legislative business.

Fredette said he hadn’t seen the inpeachment order on Monday, but he said little is known about how the impeachment process would work and that it would be “inappropriate” to come to the House floor.

“This is a constitutional attempt to remove one person who represents one of the three branches of government,” he said. “This is not the way to start the session.”

Scott Thistle of the Sun Journal contributed reporting.

Michael Shepherd

About Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after covering state, federal and local issues for the Kennebec Journal for three years. He's a Hallowell native who now lives in Gardiner. He graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and is a graduate student at the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service.