AUGUSTA – A New Jersey minister who supports Gov. Paul LePage’s approach to solving Maine’s opioid addiction crisis will be in Maine on Wednesday to “defend” LePage, who has been embroiled in controversy over his comments on drugs and race.

A statement issued by Camp Constitution and headlined, “Black Minister to Hold Press Conference at the State House to Defend Governor LePage” was circulated by volunteers working with the Rev. Steven Craft.

Hal Shurtleff, an organizer with Camp Constitution, said his nonprofit is focused on educating people on the Christian components of the U.S. Constitution and said Craft was coming to Maine, in part to show his support for LePage and to refute charges of racism. “The media is playing the race card,” Shurtleff said, explaining why Craft, who is African-American, is coming to speak in defense of LePage.

Craft could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.

It was unclear if LePage is aware of Craft’s visit. Shurtleff said LePage had been invited to attend the news conference but had not accepted the invitation.

LePage’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to the statement, Craft was a heroin addict for 10 years but has been in recovery for the last 40. He is also the executive director of Christian Citizenship Ministries Inc.

“Rev. Craft knows about the drug addiction epidemic firsthand,” the release said.

During a North Berwick town hall meeting in August, LePage described a binder he compiled of news reports, news releases and booking mug shots showing that “90-plus percent” of those charged with heroin trafficking crimes in Maine since January were either black or Hispanic and coming from outside of Maine.

Those comments, and an obscenity-laden voice message he left for Rep. Drew Gattine, D-Westbrook, drew charges of racism and attracted national media attention to the state.

LePage and his staff have not responded to repeated questions about why the race of a drug dealer matters.

On Monday, LePage’s office released copies of the contents of the three-ring binder in response to numerous public records requests from media outlets and the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine.

A review of the contents of the binder showed that only about 40 percent of the drug dealers appeared to be black or Hispanic. LePage’s staff has tried to explain that when he singled out blacks and Hispanics for attention, the governor was referring only to people who were bringing heroin into Maine from out of state.

Shurtleff, the spokesman for the New Jersey minister, said Craft was coming to Maine to defend LePage on, “the racist charges.” He said Craft would also discuss the proper way to deal with the state’s addiction crisis.

The mission of Craft’s Christian Citizenship Ministries “is to restore American jurisprudence to its Biblical foundations,” according to the organization’s webs site.

“As a flexible, multi-faceted speaker, Reverend Craft can compose his message to meet a variety of audiences, always promising an insightful and power-pact (sic) presentation,” the website reads.

Craft is schedule to appear in the Welcome Center of the State House at 11 a.m. on Wednesday.