Gov. Paul LePage is known to send handwritten notes to his allies and his opponents. The missives sometimes surface in the mailboxes of state lawmakers.

Some of the notes are friendly. Some are not. 

Oamshri Amarasingham, the public policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, recently received one of the latter notes. The governor was not happy that Amarasingham had criticized the governor’s proposal to have a governmental agency fact-check campaign statements.

The proposal, L.D. 1834, was quickly dispatched by the Legislature amid concerns that the proposal would violate the First Amendment protection of free speech. Additionally, there was some uneasiness among lawmakers about making the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Elect Practices the arbiter of truth.

Amarasingham spearheaded that argument, saying during a public hearing held in March that the state ethics commission did not need to add ‘truth police’ to its list of responsibilities.

LePage was displeased with the opposition. 

"Since when in the USA (is it) that the truth is unconstitutional," he wrote. "Interesting, that lying to citizens is the position of of the ACLU. It is a real shame that you and your organization do not promote the truth. What example are we providing our children with?"

The governor began his letter saying that his proposal was based on another state law that has withstood the constitutional test. It’s not clear which law he’s referring to, but Ohio has a law that allows a state board to reprimand candidates for making false campaign speech statements. The governor is correct that the law has withstood early court challenges, however, the fight is not yet over, according to Ohio chapter of the ACLU (UPDATE: The Los Angeles Times reported Monday that the Ohio law is facing a Supreme Court challenge.). 

Another little detail from the governor’s note: It was written on stationary from LePage’s re-election committee, not state letterhead. One might wonder if the ACLU could have asked the Ethics Commission to rule on the veracity of his claim that "lying to citizens" is a position backed by the organization if the governor’s bill had become law. Probably not. The governor’s proposal would only have allowed candidates to file truth complaints with the Ethics Commission. 

Gov. Paul LePage unhappy with ACLU