Maine State Police say a trooper was demoted because of concerns about his credibility, not because he reported what he believed to be illegal activity by the agency’s intelligence center.

That argument was the focus of a hearing in federal court Thursday to determine if the trooper’s lawsuit should proceed to trial. George Loder filed his complaint in U.S. District Court in May 2020, arguing that his employer demoted him and turned him down for a new position in retaliation for calling out illegal activity at the Maine Intelligence Analysis Center, which is overseen by the Maine State Police.

Even though Loder’s lawsuit is centered on the alleged retaliation, it includes claims that have focused scrutiny on the surveillance tactics of the state police intelligence unit, also known as a fusion center. His complaint accused the state of monitoring protesters who opposed the Central Maine Power corridor project and giving that information to a private company. He also said the surveillance center is using data from out-of-state license plate databases and gun-owner registries for unlawful purposes.

“What he was telling people is that the state of Maine is violating federal law when it comes to citizen privacy,” Loder’s attorney, Cynthia Dill, told the judge Thursday. “That’s an important thing that we just keep forgetting about. … My client has done a substantial public service in bringing these issues forward.”

The Maine Intelligence Analysis Center and Maine State Police, both defendants in Loder’s complaint, have denied the allegations.

Assistant Attorney General Valerie Wright, representing the state police and the intelligence center, argued Thursday that the agencies had several reasons to not hire Loder, including an incident when Loder was suspended for lying to an internal investigating officer in 1998, making it so his credibility would be questioned if he ever had to testify in court on behalf of the Maine State Police.


U.S. District Judge Jon Levy did not immediately rule on the state’s motion for summary judgment, and it’s unclear when he will.


Last March, Levy dismissed four of the six claims in Loder’s lawsuit, determining that Loder’s case did not fall under a federal privacy act because the allegations involved state agencies and not the federal government. Levy also shot down claims that the state police denied Loder “procedural due process” by removing him from the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

The state then filed a motion for summary judgment, attacking what’s left of Loder’s complaint: a claim that the state police violated his rights under the Whistleblower Protection Act, and another claim that his First Amendment rights were violated.

Should the case go to trial, the jury would have to decide whether Loder was a victim of retaliation, not whether his allegations about illegal surveillance were true.

Loder joined the Maine State Police in 1994 and moved up in the agency, taking a temporary assignment on the state’s Joint Terrorism Task Force with the FBI in early 2013 after interviewing and passing a background check. In his complaint, Loder remarked that he was increasingly being asked to participate with and report information to the Maine Intelligence Analysis Center. When Loder came to believe he was being asked to do something that violated federal privacy laws, or that the center was doing so without him, he said that he reported that information to the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.


Once Loder shared what he had done with his supervisors, he said he was removed from the joint task force, denied another position in the Major Crimes unit, and assigned to a “desk job” overseeing the intelligence center’s database. After he was turned down for an open position on the Maine State Police unit for major crimes, Loder stated in his complaint, he accepted a demotion as a state trooper.

While Loder is arguing what happened to him and his career was a consequence of reporting perceived privacy violations at the intelligence center, Wright, the assistant attorney general, said Thursday that the state had several reasons – including the 1998 suspension for lying to an internal investigating officer – to not consider him for the major crimes unit job.


Wright told Loder Thursday that the 1998 suspension was a “huge disqualifying factor” and “basically a deal breaker” for members of Loder’s hiring panel. Wright didn’t disclose in the hearing the nature of the incident, nor was it explained further in the state’s motion for summary judgment. The suspension was one of at least four, the state noted in court documents.

Dill challenged that point, pointing out that the state police still promoted Loder to the Joint Terrorism Task force in 2013.

When it comes to Loder’s First Amendment protections, Wright argued that the trooper should be treated more like a public employee than a private citizen because he reported his concerns about the intelligence center to people he worked for, using information he obtained through his job with the Maine State Police. In questions to Dill, Levy remarked that the stronger her client’s whistleblower claims were, the weaker his First Amendment arguments appeared.


The Maine Intelligence Analysis Center was created through a 2006 executive order authorizing the sharing of intelligence between federal, state and local governments. It was one of dozens of similar intelligence and surveillance centers that were established across the country following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Two months after Loder filed his complaint, a hacking collective called Distributed Denial of Secrets released thousands of documents from the agency, which were being stored with a Houston-based web development firm. Those documents revealed what information the unit is collecting on people, where it comes from and what it’s used for.

Loder originally filed a claim with the Maine Human Rights Commission half a year before filing his complaint in federal court. The commission did not vote on the merits of Loder’s claim but did issue a right to sue letter in November 2019.

Loder is retiring next Thursday, said Maine State Police spokesperson Shannon Moss. She said he worked his last shift last week.

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