(Video of Heather Berube Everly starts at 13:30)

LEWISTON – A woman who volunteered for Democratic mayoral candidate Ben Chin in 2017 secretly funneled his campaign emails to Republican rival Shane Bouchard – with whom, she said, she was having an affair.

Shane Bouchard addresses the crowd at The Dolard & Priscilla Gendron Franco Center in Lewiston on Jan. 2, 2018, after being sworn in as the new mayor of Lewiston. Sun Journal file photo

A day after Heather Everly Berube accused Bouchard, now mayor, of criminal activity and asked the Lewiston City Council to vacate his seat, she told the Sun Journal on Wednesday about what she described as a months-long, covert effort to boost his campaign.

“I didn’t want (the Maine People’s Alliance) to own my city. And having a Republican mayor to balance out the six liberal city councilors made sense,” Berube said. Chin is deputy director of the Maine People’s Alliance, a progressive group.

Bouchard “played on her vulnerabilities” in developing a relationship with her and she did not know the emails she provided him would ever be made public, Berube said. She gave them to Bouchard, she said, because she thought he could privately use the canvassing data and campaign statistics contained within “to know where he stood” in the race.

She believes Bouchard or his wife gave the emails to Jason Savage, head of the Maine Republican Party and owner and operator of the conservative Maine Examiner website, which published the leaked emails.

As proof, she released a screenshot of a text conversation between her and Bouchard. In it, she said the Maine Examiner’s email story “seems so dirty,” and Bouchard responded, in part, that it was the tip of the iceberg and “We will see how this plays out. Maybe we release more. Maybe this does it. Either way, I need you down the stretch.”

Bouchard acknowledged Wednesday that he got internal Chin emails from Berube, but he denied having a sexual relationship with her and denied that either he or his wife forwarded the emails to Savage for publication. He also denied Berube’s criminal allegations.

“A lot of these allegations are too ridiculous to honestly dignify with an answer,” he said.

Savage also denied he got the emails from either Bouchard or his wife.

“There are a lot of places those emails could have been released,” he said on Wednesday.

Since the mayoral runoff election in December 2017, it has been an open secret among Lewiston politicians that Berube, a Chin volunteer, had sent internal emails to the Bouchard campaign. However, this is the first time that Berube has admitted it publicly.

Berube sent dozens, if not hundreds of emails. She was among the list of people to receive Chin’s internal emails every day, and they were all sent to Bouchard, she said.

Berube, 33, lives in Lewiston and said she decided to come forward for a few reasons, mostly because she believes she harmed the city by secretly helping Bouchard become mayor.

“I need to make it right,” she said. “I think an explanation is owed.”

Berube, who also goes by her married name, Everly, began volunteering for the Chin campaign as a recruiter in the spring of 2017. Within months, she became disillusioned with Chin and the Maine People’s Alliance, the progressive organization where Chin works and that supported his campaign. She also felt unheard when it came to issues important to her.

“Ben wouldn’t listen to me,” she said. “I asked him for a meeting and he showed up to talk at me.”

That summer, she learned more about Bouchard, Chin’s opponent. His beliefs seemed to better match hers and she was intrigued. She said she messaged him on Facebook: “I’m curious about you.”

The two struck up a friendship, Berube said, and began messaging each other almost every day on Facebook. Bouchard asked about the custody fight for her kids, checked in on her, asked if she was OK.

“He made me feel like there was somebody there that listened,” she said.

Bouchard knew she worked for the Chin campaign and at one point asked her to share some of his opponent’s emails, she said. Berube said she refused.

Then, in late September, she said she agreed.

“I have no idea why I gave them to him when I did,” she said Wednesday. “I think that there was one email that really upset me about Ben (Chin) talking bad about the other candidates. And I sent that to him. After I sent one, just domino effect.”

At one point, she said, Bouchard asked her to send the emails to his private business address instead of his campaign email address.

Within a few weeks, Berube said, she and Bouchard began having an affair. She said she was under the impression that he and his wife had an open relationship – something she said she later realized was not the case.

Berube said the affair and the sending of emails continued until the beginning of December. That is when the Maine Examiner ran a story exposing Chin’s internal emails. The website focused on a few comments Chin had made, including one in which he said he encountered a “bunch of racists” while campaigning.

Berube said Bouchard had once talked about using the emails against Chin and she was adamant he not. So she said she was shocked when the emails she provided ended up on the Maine Examiner website.

“He went and took words out of context,” she said.

A screenshot of a text exchange between Berube and Bouchard indicates Bouchard knew the emails were being forwarded to the Maine Examiner website.

“You’re my secret weapon!” he said to Berube in a discussion about the Maine Examiner piece.

Berube said she was upset the emails were released.

“After he did that, our relationship fizzled really fast because it hurt,” she said.

Berube did nothing about the emails and Bouchard for more than a year.

Then, recently, she applied to become a Notary Public, a job that requires strict ethics in duty to the public. She felt uncomfortable with the breach of trust in her past, she said.

“(Tuesday) morning I woke up … I put something on Facebook,” she said.

That night, she went to a Lewiston City Council meeting planning to talk about a city issue. Instead, at the podium and without notes, she began to talk about Bouchard. She admitted she was the one who gave Chin’s emails to Bouchard and she accused Bouchard of sending them on to Savage. She also accused Bouchard of illegal activity she said she learned about after her relationship with him.

“I just felt like I had to,” she said.

The council made no public response.

Bouchard was not at the meeting because he was in Florida following the death of a relative.

Berube spoke briefly with Lewiston Police Chief Brian O’Malley after she addressed the council.

The chief said Wednesday that his officers would like to talk with Berube to get more information about the alleged illegal activities she referenced to the council. Berube expects to talk with the police Thursday.

“I just need to make it right with my city and the voters,” she said.

Chin, who is now deputy director of the Maine People’s Alliance, did not return a message seeking comment Wednesday.

Bouchard, speaking from the car while traveling home from Florida, called Berube’s public allegations “a political hit job.” He pointed out he will be up for re-election in November and he believes his rivals are behind the allegations.

He admitted Tuesday to receiving the campaign emails from Berube, but on Wednesday he said “that’s been well-known by pretty much everybody. I didn’t send them to Jason Savage, but even if I did, it’s not illegal, it’s not even questionable.”

It’s unlikely leaking emails to people outside of a campaign is illegal. Forwarding email is not the same as hacking a candidate’s account, which is a crime, because the messages were obtained legitimately by their recipients.

Sun Journal Staff Writer Christopher Williams contributed to this report.

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