AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage likes to fire off handwritten notes to lawmakers and constituents, thanking them for their support or chiding them for opposing his policies.

Now, one of them is at the center of a federal lawsuit accusing the Republican of abusing his power by pressuring a school for at-risk youth into firing a state lawmaker.

But the location of that missive remains mystery.

In the civil rights lawsuit, House Speaker Mark Eves said LePage “knowingly broke federal law” by threatening the chairman of the board of Good Will-Hinckley — “in a secret, handwritten note” — that he would withhold $500,000 from the school unless Eves was removed as president.

Eves and his lawyer, however, acknowledge that they have never seen the note and LePage’s office has refused to confirm or deny its existence. Jack Moore, chairman of the board, told the Portland Press Herald in June that he received a handwritten note from LePage but has declined to say what was in the letter said and told the newspaper that “it may have been discarded.”

Webbert says he believes LePage sent the note in an effort to avoid public scrutiny because he was crossing a line. Before sending it, LePage sent a formal letter to the board urging it not to hire Eves, and his office provided that letter to the media.


Webbert said he expects that the governor’s note will turn up during legal proceedings.

“You would think you wouldn’t throw out that note,” he said.

While there’s plenty of intrigue about the governor’s handwritten note, the physical presence of the note is likely not essential for Eves’ case because LePage has publicly acknowledged that he threatened to withhold the funds, said Dmitry Bam, an associate professor at the University of Maine School of Law.

“The governor doesn’t seem to deny that there was some kind of threat to take away the government funding,” he said. “The note is just an additional piece of evidence, a new wrinkle. Whether it’s present or absent, I don’t think that’s what is going to make or break the case.”

LePage argues it was inappropriate for Eves, who opposed charter schools, to take the reins at the nonprofit that operates one. At an event in Brunswick this month, he called it a “political lawsuit” and said the only thing that was correct in Eves’ complaint was that his name was spelled correctly.

“To provide half-a-million dollars in taxpayer funding to a charter school that would be headed by Maine’s most vehement anti-charter-school politician is not only the height of hypocrisy, it is absolutely unacceptable,” LePage has said.

His office didn’t respond to several requests for comment. Moore also didn’t immediately respond to messages left at his office.

The Associated Press has filed a Freedom of Access Act request in June for all written communication between the governor’s office and the Good Will-Hinckley Board. LePage’s office recently said that it needs more time to fulfill that request.


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