OWLS HEAD — If the lack of initiative by Maine’s prosecutors in the Gov. LePage/Speaker Mark Eves/Good Will-Hinckley matter baffles you, you’re not alone.

In my view, the issue is: “Did Maine’s governor commit a felony when he allegedly interfered with the employment contract between House Speaker Mark Eves and the Good-Will Hinckley School?”

That’s not a political question. It is the question that would be asked if you or I did what Gov. LePage ostensibly admits to having done with respect to Eves’ employment contract with Good Will-Hinckley.

The question gets answered in Superior Court – rather than the Maine Senate.

The applicable rule of law is Title 17-A of Maine Revised Statutes Annotated (the Maine Criminal Code), Section 355: Theft by extortion, which states in applicable part:

“1. A person is guilty of theft if the person obtains or exercises control over the property of another as a result of extortion and with intent to deprive the other person of the property.

“2. As used in this section, extortion occurs when a person threatens to:

“… B. Do any other act that would not in itself substantially benefit the person but would harm substantially any other person with respect to that person’s health, safety, business, calling, career, financial condition, reputation or personal relationships.

“3. Violation of this section is a Class C crime.”

Under the law of contracts, employment contracts are “property.”

If LePage obtained or exercised control of this property, by threatening to discontinue “support” and/or public funding of Good Will-Hinckley, with the intent to deprive Eves of his job, then our governor may be guilty of extortion.

Control of another’s property + obtained by threat + the intent to deprive the owner of that property = extortion. That is the equation.

How might you react if a government official stole your job? Where does lawlessness in high places end?

Keep in mind that Gov. LePage had no legal right to interfere with Eves’ employment contract.

LePage seems to believe that the office of governor empowers him to micromanage an independent entity like Good Will-Hinckley simply because it is the recipient of some state funds. He is mistaken.

The office of governor gives LePage no greater authority than Tinker Bell to deprive Eves of his property.

Theft by extortion is a Class C crime.

Class C crimes are felonies. A conviction would automatically strip LePage of the right to own a firearm and also make him ineligible to serve on a jury.

If you or I broke the criminal law, we would expect to be prosecuted. Shouldn’t the same hold true for every government official – high or low?

In my opinion, Maeghan Maloney, the district attorney for Kennebec County, has the duty to investigate and, if probable cause is found, seek indictment of the perpetrator or perpetrators of this serious crime.

Maloney need not shoulder this weighty matter alone.

Maine law authorizes Attorney General Janet Mills to assist district attorneys or even entirely assume their duties.

If Mills feels compromised by a perception that she is prejudiced against LePage, there is precedent for her to appoint a special prosecutor.

Supreme Court Justice J. Louis Brandeis cautioned: “Decency, security and liberty alike demand that government officials shall be subjected to the same rules of conduct that are commands to the citizen. In a government of laws, existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.”

Decency, security and liberty have already been diminished for Eves by the alleged actions of a governmental official who honors no boundaries.

Will Maine citizens be silent spectators to further unraveling of the rule of law that is intended to govern the conduct of us all?

Or, will they let the district attorney and the attorney general know that they expect the law to be enforced against all violators?

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