Maine blogger Mike Tipping has a book coming out next month about the arrival of tea party Republicanism in his state. TPM has a sample chapter, and it clears up a mystery about the sometimes weird and incomprehensible behavior of Governor Paul LePage. As Tipping reports, the codex to understanding LePage was his relationship to the ‘sovereign citizens’ movement in the form of two right wing pirate radio pioneers.
As (Jack) McCarthy later revealed in his conversation with (Steve) Martin on the Aroostook Watchmen radio show, the meeting that weekend covered a wide range of topics. The members of the Constitutional Coalition informed LePage that the United Nations and the Rockefellers were plotting to take over Maine’s North Woods. They discussed the illegitimacy of the U.S. Department of Education and argued that the state should refuse to accept federal education funding. (According to McCarthy, the governor “hung his head and said you’re right” in response.) They also informed LePage that U.S. paper currency is unlawful. (“He was mesmerized by that,” said McCarthy.)
McCarthy’s description of LePage’s participation and remarks might be dismissed as simply an unfortunate series of miscommunications and exaggerations of the actions of a governor just trying to appease some constituents and supporters without really understanding who he was talking to or what he was talking about. The fact that the meeting was far from a one-off event makes this less likely, however. The Watchmen describe—and e-mails and documents obtained from LePage’s staff through Maine’s Freedom of Access laws confirm—at least eight meetings over a period of nine months in 2013, almost all more than an hour in duration and some lasting almost three hours.
LePage not only pursued a relationship with McCarthy and Martin, he spent many hours listening to their harebrained ideas and lobbying for their endorsement. For despite the strenuous denials of the tea party itself, so-called ‘patriots’ and ‘sovereign citizens’ turn out to be an important demographic in the tea party coalition that has radicalized Republican politics so completely.
As Maine Went: Governor Paul LePage and the Tea Party Takeover of Maine will hit bookstore shelves in July, but Tipping is also selling advance copies through a Kickstarter campaign: