AUGUSTA – Some Democratic officials are seeking to distance themselves from the controversial left-wing Maine People’s Alliance after the group made an untoward attack on a handicapped Republican lawmaker.
“We’ve only been out of the session two days. And it’s not beginning in a positive way. In fact, it’s pretty disturbing,” wrote Reps. Brian Jones (D-Freedom) and Denise Harlow (D-Portland) in a letter to several other elected officials.
“‘Our’ allies sent a mailer attacking the Republicans for their votes against Medicaid expansion,” the pair of lawmakers wrote. They asked like-minded colleagues to sent an email to Ben Chin, MPA’s director of political engagement, expressing their discontent.
[RELATED: Maine People's Alliance worker who photobombed LePage event has history of ridiculing, threatening workers...]
The attack that set off Jones, Harlow and Republican lawmakers was a mailer that accused Rep. Dale Crafts (R-Lisbon Falls) of “having no spine” and failing to “stand up” to Gov. Paul LePage.
Crafts has been bound to a wheelchair for 26 years as the result of a motorcycling accident.
Republican leaders were outraged by the MPA’s attack on Craft.
“At worst, this is a cruel and deliberately insulting attack on Rep. Crafts’s disability,” said House Minority Leader Ken Fredette (R-Newport). “At best, it is an unbelievably insensitive attack that requires an immediate and unequivocal apology from the Maine People’s Alliance.”
“They may disagree with Dale’s political views, but these kinds of personal attacks are completely uncalled for and are inconsistent with Maine’s tradition of higher political discourse,” he said.
“I find it hard to believe that was a simple mistake by the MPA,” Senate Minority Leader Michael Thibodeau (R-Waldo) said. “This is a well-organized and well-financed group that has a history of launching unfounded, vicious attacks on their political opponents. But this is a new low, even for them.”Thibodeau and Fredette both called on Democratic leaders to condemn the MPA’s attack on Crafts and to distance themselves generally from the “increasingly controversial activist group.”
Jones and Harlow would like to form a bipartisan group to call out injustices on the campaign trail.
“Our goal is to set up a group of Democrats who will be willing to speak out when we see injustice in campaigning,” wrote Jones and Harlow. “We need to shine some light on what is really happening here.”
This is not the first time MPA and it’s activists made national headlines
with their controversial antics.
According to State House Republicans, MPA activists in March of 2012 shouted down a multiple sclerosis awareness event. And, according to recent news reports
, an MPA activist was arrested for allegedly stealing money from an old lady’s purse.
The MPA has reportedly apologized
to Crafts. Crafts accepted the apology, but shared a few choice words about the group with the Daily Caller News Foundation:
“The Maine People’s Alliance is just a bunch of liberal windbags,” Crafts told TheDCNF. “I voted against ObamaCare’s welfare expansion because I go to work every day in my wheelchair, and I don’t think I should be paying extra taxes just so able-bodied young men can get free Medicaid.”
The MPA is a 501(c)4 organization that has endorsed U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud in the 2014 Maine governor’s race.
UPDATE: Assistant House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe (D-Skowhegan) issued the following statement to The Maine Wire: “We are very disappointed in the Maine People’s Alliance. We have spoken to them and learned that it was a terrible oversight on their part. We were glad that they immediately apologized to Rep. Crafts.”
Editor, The Maine Wire