Maine House Speaker Mark Eves is capable of doing two things at once.

Had he been given the chance, he could have worked simultaneously as the president of Good Will-Hinckley and speaker of the Maine House. Deprived of that opportunity, he can both sue Gov. Paul LePage personally and advocate for a public process of impeachment to test whether LePage crossed the line.

And while he has the chance, that’s what he should do.

The facts surrounding Eves’ termination from Good Will-Hinckley are essentially undisputed. He was hired to be the president of the social service agency that runs a charter school and other programs. LePage got really mad because Eves had opposed charter schools in the past and was his nemesis on other issues, so he threatened to withhold the agency’s funding, putting other funding in jeopardy and leading the unanimous board that hired Eves to fire him before he worked a single day.

There are two sets of questions that arise from these circumstances. One is whether Eves’ civil rights were violated and, if so, whether he deserves to be compensated. The other is whether LePage committed a “misdemeanor in office” and deserves to be removed from office or publicly censured. The first set will be answered in a courtroom, and the second should be taken up in the halls of the state Capitol by legislative leaders, including Eves.

Out of a lucrative job and believed to be the victim of “blackmail,” Eves sued the governor and has said openly and often that in doing so, his intent is to “make sure that the governor is held accountable for his reckless abuse of power that threatens the rights of all of us.”

As for the impeachment of the governor for such abuses, however, Eves has suggested he can’t be involved due to a perceived conflict of interest.

“We (sued) to seek justice for our family and for every Maine family,” Eves said. “As the top official for Maine’s elected representatives, I will make sure that the governor is held accountable for his reckless abuse of power that threatens the rights of all of us.”

About impeachment, though, Eves said in June, “I, or this office, will not be working on any legislative fixes or initiatives. … If other legislators are doing that, that is certainly outside any knowledge or coordination from this office. We are keeping a bright line between what is political and what is personal. This is about my personal life.”

But is it?

If whatever LePage did in regard to the Good Will-Hinckley funding was “personal” and not “political,” why then did the Government Oversight Committee subpoena several witnesses to appear for questioning for over seven hours on Thursday while racking up another substantial legal bill the taxpayers are expected to foot?

The speaker’s commitment to the rule of law is admirable, but Eves wasn’t elected to bring justice to every Maine family in federal court; he was elected by his district to represent them in the Legislature and elected by his colleagues to be speaker of the House. Federal court is not the venue for a proceeding intended to hold the governor accountable to the public for a reckless abuse of power, and the Constitution, which states the House of Representatives “shall have the sole power of impeachment” prohibits one branch of government from exercising power belonging to another.

Eves may sincerely believe his lawsuit is for every family, but that’s not the way our system works. Any decision rendered by a judge or jury will have no real effect on the people of Maine or the governor’s job. If he’s successful at trial, monetary damages may be awarded to Eves, with perhaps other relief, but nothing will impact the governor’s relationship with state government.

The place for Eves to act on behalf of others is in the Legislature, and he is wrong that the revocation of public funds from the school in retaliation for his hiring is “personal” and his public involvement would cross a line. There are no bright lines when it comes to articles of impeachment; there are only votes, and Eves should let members vote if he really believes LePage recklessly abused the office of governor.

Eves’ vote would be one of 151, and a simple majority of votes in the House would send the question of whether the governor committed a misdemeanor in office to the Senate for a trial.

And what better than the Republican-controlled Senate to determine whether LePage crossed the line? The Republican Party got us into this mess, so let them figure it out. After all, it’s their future as a party that depends on it.

And talk about conflict: The impeachment trial would be presided over by Senate President Michael Thibodeau, who, if LePage is removed from office, would be governor, according to the constitution.

If Eves wants justice for everyone, and I believe he does, he will not shy away from the process outlined in the Constitution that would lead to that result. Regardless of the ultimate outcome, if he and other members reasonably believe there was a reckless abuse of power, there should be a vote by House members on articles of impeachment, and if it prevails, the matter should be sent to the Senate for a trial.

The Legislative Code of Ethics says no Maine legislator will accept any employment that will impair their independence and integrity of judgment, nor will they exercise their position of trust to secure unwarranted privileges for themselves or for others.

Eves deserved the job at Good Will-Hinckley, and exercising his position as speaker to hold the governor accountable before the Legislature would not result in any unwarranted privilege for him or others.

Instead, it would result in the process the Constitution and justice requires.

Cynthia Dill is a civil rights lawyer and former state senator. She can be contacted at:

[email protected]

Twitter: dillesquire