Maine gov apologizes for 'Gestapo' remark
July 9th, 2012
02:59 PM ET
8 months ago

Maine gov apologizes for 'Gestapo' remark

(CNN) – Maine Gov. Paul LePage apologized Monday for referring to the Internal Revenue Service as the "Gestapo" in his weekly radio address over the weekend.

"It was not my intent to insult anyone, especially the Jewish Community, or minimize the fact that millions of people were murdered," the Republican governor said in a statement.

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In a speech Saturday blasting the Supreme Court's recent decision to uphold President Barack Obama's health care reform, LePage directly addressed the high court's ruling of the law's penalty as a "tax."

He argued that Congress could now use its taxation power to "compel behavior or lack thereof," and asked what the government would do next: "More taxes if we don't drive Toyota Priuses or if we eat too much junk food or maybe even pea soup?"

He continued: "This decision has made America less free. We the people have been told there is no choice. You must buy health insurance or pay the new Gestapo – the I.R.S."

LePage's office posted his prepared remarks on his website, which includes the sentence about the Gestapo. It also links to audio of the speech, but the link fails to connect to the actual clip.

In his apology Monday, he expressed concern that the controversy had overshadowed the original intent of his address.

"Clearly, what has happened is that the use of the word Gestapo has clouded my message," he said, saying the health care law "rations" care and could "negatively impact millions of Americans."

"We no longer are a free people. With every step that Obamacare moves forward, our individual freedoms are being stripped away by the Federal Government. This should anger all Americans," he said.

Democratic state lawmakers, seizing on the comments this weekend, had charged the governor with trivializing those who suffered under the Gestapo, the secret police force that operated under Nazi-controlled Germany.

House Democratic Leader Representative Emily Cain and Assistant Democratic Leader Senator Justin Alfond said the language was "intentionally offensive."

"This goes beyond political rhetoric," Cain said in a statement.

Her office added that LePage, who's known for making off-the-cuff statements in the past, read his speech from prepared remarks, and did not ad-lib the remark during his address.

"He was trying to pick a fight, he knew exactly what he was doing," Alfond told CNN, saying he was worried about how the comments may affect the state's reputation to outsiders.

"The governor should do something right for the wrong that he created."

LePage was elected in 2010 with tea party support. His office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

– CNN's Janet DiGiacomo, Steve Brusk and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.


Filed under: Health care • Maine • Paul LePage • Supreme Court • Taxes
soundoff (222 Responses)
  1. nicnic

    This man is a blight on Maine.

    July 9, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  2. Paul Thomas

    @myviewis look who cares about Mike Barnickle ? He's a pundit on a TV show with bad ratings, second get your stuff together, he complained about obamas then plan to cap salaries for executives at banks who take bail out money. Hardly shows collusion between him and the democratic party or the president. his wife was chief marketing officer and president at a northeast bank, secondly I found nothing that corroborates your point the guys background is in writing and journalism so I'm not sure how he can run a healthcare company. Its a stretch though to say he influence the policy on air, through a lobby effort maybe but trust me MSNBC has no influence on policy, it's not even not on drudge or any twitter feed yet as far as I can tell so your breaking news on the message board spark plug, congrats

    July 9, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  3. ryeder

    OK, lets be politically correct for all those who lack tolerance for those they disagree with. Instead of the forbidden "G" word, maybe we can replace it with "Mafia?" (oops, the Italians will cry foul, or how about "Organized Criminals?"...oh, those bleeding heart criminal lovers who have turned our prisons over to the inmates might feel slandered. It doesn't
    take very much today to insult anyone. As far as I am concerned, the IRS are nothing more than legalized thugs, politicians are becoming useless and Americans are becoming thin skinned, apathetic and weak.....

    July 9, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  4. Sniffit

    "Too bad Republicans are for all those things, just not the individual mandate."

    Too bad that without the individual mandate, you acn't have any of the rest of it because it becomes economically impossible. Ergo, opposing the mandate or any similar method of assuring that EVERYONE is in the risk pool = opposing all the rest of it...the "cake," as it were. So no, you can't have it and eat it too.

    July 9, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  5. Larry L

    Do people think our government is free? What will we decide to neglect? The over-worked Military? The crumbling infrastructure? The schools? Environmental protection? Medicare? Social Security?

    It's fashionable for right-wing politicians to use inflammatory language to fire-up their under-educated, Fox News-crazed masses, but it's still a cheap political ploy used by people with no real leadership plan.

    July 9, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  6. watch your back

    It will be interesting when the republicans take control of our goverment but STILL will get nothing done because the tea party is a huge part of them.

    July 9, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  7. RV1982

    He hit the nail on the head...any agency that enforces a law that compels behavior through punishment (rather than punishment for illegal behavior) is using power reminiscent of Gestapo tactics.

    July 9, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  8. Sniffit

    "He hit the nail on the head...any agency that enforces a law that compels behavior through punishment (rather than punishment for illegal behavior) is using power reminiscent of Gestapo tactics."

    ORLY? Do tell. Please, give us an example to prove your analogy is accurate. Maybe that time the gestapo politely asked all Jews in Germany to please get health insurance or pay a small civil penalty in their taxes? Or are we going for more of a Night of the Long Knives kinda thing here?

    July 9, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  9. Dennis

    All th e ACA will accomplish is increasing the cost of health care coverage for everyone. Nothing in this bill addresses cost at all.

    July 9, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  10. James Klimaski

    The Republican make it sound as if the IRS will be hounding the average citizen to enforce AHCA. This is far from the truth. Less than 2% of Americans may be affected. Under the present system it is now the American taxpayer who foots the bill for those who are in need of medical care, but have no health insurance. Would the Republican Governor rather have the doctors and hospitals just refuse to treat these people? Gee that would sound like advocating "Death Panels" at these hospitals. As for the "Gestapo" comment, the Governor needs to read some history, a common failing among Tea Party politicians..

    July 9, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  11. demwit

    'Gestapo'.., talk about an understatement.

    July 9, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  12. BigTBone

    This is indicative of the bigger problem. These kooks can't even get a clear picture on reality. How can you effectively discuss solutions when one side is willing to drop "gestapo, nazi, socialist, marxist, muslim, etc" at any opportunity?

    How does one retort against the absurd? I never really want to argue with the vagrant in town square complaining loudly against his personal collection of coffee cups, but yet this wailing from the gov goes on without reprisal?

    July 9, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  13. i didn't vote for him

    Don't blame me, I didn't vote for him. The unfortunate reality is that he speaks for our fine state, and doesn't know when to keep his mouth shut. Not a very good role model for future Maine politicians. Shame!

    July 9, 2012 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  14. independent

    The Governor of Maine, like many people, has strong opinions about the current U.S. Tax Code, and like many Americans has absolutely no idea how it works. Like many Americans, he directs his tax ire towards the IRS, when in fact the IRS is merely carrying out the laws given to them by Congress.

    July 9, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  15. Larry L

    @RV1982

    He hit the nail on the head...any agency that enforces a law that compels behavior through punishment (rather than punishment for illegal behavior) is using power reminiscent of Gestapo tactics.
    -----------------------------------------------------
    What on Earth are you talking about? How does the IRS punish you to change your behavior? They tell you what you owe and punish you if you fail to pay. This sounds like Rush, Sean and Glenn once again... Drama but no substance.

    July 9, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  16. CBR

    The comment by Mister Thomas seems to be attributed to the wrong story. The topic of this story is the language used by Governor LePage in his weekly address.

    The Governor continues to use language which will cause indignation among the Democrats and others. This use of the word "gestapo" gives a little more insight into this man. He does not seem to care about any others people or their feelings. He shows a lack of understanding about WWII. This word is offensive and should be to all Americans. The Gestapo also showed no pity on Americans who were in POW camps. This is just another example of the use of inflammatory language to get publicity. Perhaps this time the people of Maine will realize that using this language is not only offensive it is just plain wrong.

    Freedom is not free in the sense that it takes more than just words to keep us free. What we choose to do and how we do it will determine how much freedom will cost. However, in the end, we are free and our adherence to the Bill of Rights and the Constitution helps to keep us free. Mainers are very much aware of that and we hardly need this Governor to remind us of that.

    July 9, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  17. Joy

    These Tea Partyers are in a word un-American! Gestapo my derriere. The IRS is an integral and essential function of our government and culture. To disparage it thusly is disgraceful and ... un-American.

    July 9, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  18. Curt

    Just wondering. How many of these whinning Republicans represent states that have a law making car insurance mandatiry? Don't you get a fine if you're caught without car insurnace? Personally I don't see a difference.

    July 9, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  19. Larry L

    Republicans continue to face the same problem... They only support the rich but you can't get elected with just their votes. To win they must capture votes from people who aren't wealthy. Their system is simple – create social issues (like guns, prayer in school, abortion, and immigration) and use advertising money from the wealthy to fire-up the under-educated masses. Fox News has become the ideal venue for this effort and it's owner Rupert Murdoch is the perfect gate-keeper for information. He has absolutely no ethics and is a fascist at heart – perfect! The social issues don't cost the wealthy any money and the Teavangelicals and bigots believe everything you tell them. Think "birthers". Independent voters tend to be smart enough to avoid this scam but down in the South... not so much...

    July 9, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  20. Rudy NYC

    He's probably trying to say that it was a bad ruling, which opened the doors and flood gates to all kinds of stuff. I think that it was a bad ruling, too, but for entirely different reasons.

    July 9, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  21. rs

    What is this sick fascinarion the GOP has with national socialism and the Nazis?

    July 9, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  22. Pander Bear

    LePage is the poster child for what could happen during a non-Presidential election year. You still have to get the vote out. This nimrod was elected with only 38% of the vote. C'mon Maine, Get rid if this guy next election.

    July 9, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  23. Tom from Canonsburg

    This is just another attempt by the GOP to cause problems. The Mandate is a idea used by both Newt & Romney. Here is a party that is against anyone bilking the system unless they are wealthy, but in this case they want to make an exception for political hay.

    July 9, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  24. John H ATL

    This fool should pay attention to his rhetoric. He is defaming about 90,000 people who work day in and day out to administer the laws that congress passes. If he doesn't like the tax code then repeal it. If he doesn't understand the role of the IRS in administering the ACA then he needs to get out of Augusta more and learn something before he misrepresents it and makes himself look more foolish. The role of the IRS, as I understand it, with regard to the "penalty" that is assessed upon failure to purchase insurance after 2013 is to offset the penalty against any refunds due the taxpayer. End of story. Doesn't sound like Gestapo does it, but then go figure. This guy is one of the over-the-top lunatic fringe of the GOP, that seems to have taken over, in the absence of any adults in the party. No outrageous rhetoric is enough to satisfy the base of paranoid old rich white guys. Disclosure: I too am an old white guy just not paranoid or rich.

    July 9, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  25. John Hix

    Governor, your apology is not accepted.

    July 9, 2012 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
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