Secretary of State Shenna Bellows in Augusta on Dec. 29. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows and her staff continue to receive threatening communications in the aftermath of her decision last week to disqualify former President Donald Trump from the state’s presidential primary ballot in March.

“The barrage of aggressive, abusive communications that came into my office all day Friday to members of my staff, the targeting of my family and the targeting of other people online who stood up for me is unacceptable,” Bellows said in an interview Tuesday. “The swatting of my home is unacceptable.”

Bellows posted on social media over the weekend about a “swatting” incident at her home in Manchester.

Someone called police to falsely report a break-in at her home and requested a strong police response. No one was inside the home at the time. State troopers conducted an exterior and interior check, but nothing suspicious was found.

A spokesperson for the Maine Department of the Secretary of State said Tuesday that the office continues to receive “threatening communications.” Bellows declined provide details. “Those are being referred to law enforcement for investigation and I would not want to say anything that would compromise that investigation,” she said.

She would not say which law enforcement agencies have been alerted to the communications.


Maine Department of Public Safety spokesperson Shannon Moss said Tuesday that the Maine State Police continue to investigate the swatting incident that took place Friday. Moss said she was not aware of any additional threats against Bellows that state police are investigating.

Capitol Police Chief Matthew Clancy did not respond to a phone message or email Tuesday asking if any threats against Bellows have been reported to his department. That department had increased security for Bellows and the office on Friday.

Bellows has received intense criticism for her decision last week to exclude Trump from Maine’s Republican presidential primary ballot on March 5, especially from Republican voters and party leaders.

However, Republican leaders on Tuesday condemned any threats and the swatting incident.

“The most effective way to deal with Shenna Bellows’ outrageous decision is to get involved in the democratic political process,” Maine Republican Chair Joel Stetkis said in a statement. “Threatening public officials is always wrong. Don’t do it.”

“I completely condemn the threats or use of violence here,” said Senate Minority Leader Trey Stewart, R-Presque Isle. “Obviously, I don’t agree with the secretary of state’s decision, but violence is not the answer; it’s election outcomes. If folks are upset at what she is doing, then they should vote accordingly in the next election for the state Legislature.”


House Minority Leader Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham, R-Winter Harbor, last week called Bellows’ ruling “a sham decision that mimics third world dictatorships.”

Faulkingham has since said he denounces any threats and swatting. On Tuesday he sent a letter to Public Safety Commissioner Michael Sauschuck asking for a fast and thorough investigation of the swatting incident and transparency with the public about what happened.

“The House Republican caucus stands firm that any threat against the secretary, her family or staff is illegal as well as unjustified,” Faulkingham wrote in the letter. However, he also said Bellows’ action endangers the electoral process.

Bellows said Tuesday that she hadn’t seen Faulkingham’s letter. She said states have the authority to manage their own elections and have different processes and procedures for ballot access.

In Maine, the Legislature has delegated to the secretary of state the authority to determine if a candidate is qualified for the primary ballot and created the process that was recently used to challenge Trump’s access, Bellows said.

“Once that challenge was brought, I was duty-bound to hold a hearing and issue a decision,” she said.

The effect of Bellows’ decision is on hold pending an appeal the Trump campaign filed in Kennebec County Superior Court Tuesday. The U.S. Supreme Court also is expected to rule on the constitutionality of a Trump candidacy in response to an appeal filed in Colorado.

“If people disagree with the election law that creates this process whereby the secretary must ensure candidates who appear on the primary ballot are qualified, there’s an appropriate process for advocating for a change in the law,” Bellows said. “Those are the appropriate ways to respond – through the Legislature and the law or through the courts – not with threatening communications and harassment and dangerous rhetoric targeting me and those around me.”

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