Before LePage summoned sheriff, Sovereign Citizens mentioned violent options

BDN photo by Gabor Degre.

BDN photo by Gabor Degre.

One of the oddest parts of the story of Gov. LePage holding eight meetings with members of the Constitutional Coalition involves the governor following the group’s request to have the sheriff of Kennebec County meet them. Later the group asked the sheriff to serve papers on Attorney General Janet Mills and Democratic leaders Mark Eves and Justin Alfond which would remove them from office.

In a document sent to the governor before the May 29, 2013 meeting which initiated this connection to the sheriff, the only one of the eight meetings held by teleconference, the group mentioned that violent options might be needed if they were blocked from providing evidence to a Grand Jury.

The idea that people can follow this Grand Jury procedure is a hallmark of the Sovereign Citizen movement.

A document laying out discussion points for the teleconference stated:

At this point it seems the only way we can have our cards on the table is to request that in your official capacity you summon Sheriff Liberty and one of the superior court judges to meet with us and determine where the people stand in their ability and responsibility to instruct the servant government agents. Over years of being ignored and a long train of abuses the people’s options are diminishing and we will be left with the 1776 or the 1865 option. 

The 1776 option refers to the American revolution and the 1865 option refers to the assassination of President Lincoln.

A later part of the document stated:

I do not understand how so many arms of the government can deny people of their due process, deny access to an institution of ancient and common law origins designed to protect them from a tyrannical government, and also fail to abide by their oaths to support the constitutions. What possible alternative do the People now have, other than to take up arms (before they are confiscated), as did the Founders against the world’s most powerful nation at the time??? 

As the document requested, LePage summoned Sheriff Liberty to meet with the group, in a meeting held on July 3, 2013.

And the governor was to hold two other meetings with group members, in August and September 2013.

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To be sure, there is no evidence of any real plans to carry out violence. One could not say there was a plot to do so.

However, it is clear that, in the document sent to the governor as points of discussion before a teleconference, violence was mentioned as a legitimate option should certain processes not be followed.

Those references did not stop the teleconference from being held.

Three other meetings followed, including one to which the governor summoned Sheriff Liberty.

According to an excerpt from Mike Tipping’s book on LePage and the tea party movement:

In an interview, Sheriff Liberty confirmed the timing and topics of discussion of the meeting and said he attempted to steer the conversation away from “that conspiracy theory stuff” as much as possible. Following the meeting, he complied with the governor’s request and visited the offices of the attorney general and county district attorney to ask them to hear the Constitutionalists’ case. [Source]

Now, there are no transcripts from these meetings, thus limiting our knowledge of exactly what was said during the 16 hours they were held.

Moreover, the governor has not complied with Mike Tipping’s Freedom of Access requests for his notes (which LePage says were in code).

There are reports from group members, from their perspectives, on radio shows about various meetings. In this category is a Fort Fairfield Journal report on a February 2013 meeting with the governor.

Again, a fully detailed picture is not available.

But it is clear that group members have used the typical Sovereign Citizen language about political processes that don’t exist in our Constitution and about the violent consequences that might follow should the group not be satisfied.

[Source of quotes from document, "We the People of Maine, Issues for Governor's Teleconference, 29 May 2013," obtained by Mike Tipping via FOAA request]

Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives.