Leonard Leo’s house in Northeast Harbor. Mount Desert Islander photo by Dick Broom

A Bar Harbor man is suing local police in federal court for arresting him during a political demonstration last summer outside the home of conservative legal activist Leonard Leo.

Eli Durand-McDonnell was one of dozens of people gathered outside Leonard Leo’s summer home in Northeast Harbor last July. He says in the suit that police singled him out and arrested him at the behest of Leo even though he was protesting peacefully.

Leo has become a nationally known activist who used his influence and wealth to help create a more conservative Supreme Court. His home became a hotspot for demonstrations after the court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer.

Durand-McDonnell alleged in a civil complaint filed in U.S. District Court Thursday that officers violated his First Amendment right to free speech and his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. He was subject to false arrest, according to the complaint, and his rights were also violated under the Maine Civil Rights Act. He is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, the amount to be determined by a jury.

His attorney, Matthew Morgan, said Thursday that Durand-McDonnell was not available for an interview. The Press Herald was unable to reach Leo through a voicemail left with CRC Advisors, a public relations firm he chairs.

The complaint names Lt. Kevin Edgecomb and patrolman Nathan Formby as defendants. Both officers work for the Bar Harbor and Mount Desert Police Department. They arrested Durand-McDonnell last summer, after Leo allegedly complained about the protesters and Durand-McDonnell specifically. Edgecomb did not respond to a voicemail seeking a reaction to the complaint on Thursday.


Edgecomb and Formby arrived to Leo’s home after his private security officer called the department to complain the evening of July 31, 2022. The complaint refers several times to statements Leo and Edgecomb made in a recording, which the complaint states was captured by a microphone Edgecomb was wearing while he was inside Leo’s home.

Leo told police that Durand-McDonnell had shouted obscenities at him and his family earlier that afternoon from a moving vehicle, the complaint says. Police didn’t witness this interaction.

Leo admitted to the officers that Durand-McDonnell wasn’t actually on his property, the complaint states. The young man was dressed casually and smiling in video captured from Edgecomb’s cruiser camera, according to the complaint, and was carrying a sign that said, “Leonard Leo. May be a really nice guy. But: He is also directly responsible for the overturning of Roe v. Wade and the erosion of your reproductive rights. Google his name. He is one of the most dangerous men in the United States.”

Leo told the officers he felt Durand-McDonnell was a guy “who’s got to be in jail someday, and sooner rather than later.” While Leo criticized other protesters, the complaint says Durand-McDonnell was the only one police arrested.

Edgecomb also criticized protesters and their beliefs, according to the complaint.

“Even some of the stuff I heard them say is, you know, it’s like really, guys?” Edgecomb told Leo, referring to protests he witnessed outside Leo’s home in 2019, when Leo was fundraising for Sen. Susan Collins after her vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.


Edgecomb told Leo they would arrest Durand-McDonnell and that his bail conditions would bar him from coming near Leo’s address at 46 South Shore Road, the complaint says.

“If I could make it my way, he wouldn’t be allowed in Northeast Harbor, but bail commissioners don’t do that often – all the time,” Edgecomb said, according to the complaint.

They confronted Durand-McDonnell, identified him, handcuffed him and put him in a police cruiser. He was later booked at the Hancock County jail.

Prosecutors charged him with disorderly conduct by complaint but dismissed that charge on May 11.

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