Maine gov apologizes for 'Gestapo' remark
July 9th, 2012
02:59 PM ET
1 year 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. Tony in Maine

    As a Maine resident, I continue to be embarrassed by the presence of LePage on our planet. The man is Chris Christie without the finishing school that gives the wannabe mafioso such polish. LePage OTOH, talks like a street thug.

    His supporters always use the excuse that he "tells it like it is."

    Like I said, he's embarrassing.

    July 9, 2012 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  2. Jim

    Surpirse, surprise! Another ignorant, blow-hard Repub Gov. Ever notice how fat all the Repub politicians are? What's up with that?

    July 9, 2012 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  3. Two Thumbs Down

    Gee, imagine that - the message gets lost in a bunch of rhetorical hyperbole! I guess that's what happens when you don't really have a message.

    July 9, 2012 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  4. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Maybe he should leave public life because he doesn't know the history behind the group. He should have someone check his statements before he say them.

    July 9, 2012 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  5. JohnK

    Typical Republican – open big mouth, insert foot!

    Poor baby – has to pay taxes like the rest of us so the IRS agents are "Gestapo". What a dimwit!!!!!

    July 9, 2012 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  6. Evil Hollywood Liberal

    Why is he apologizing? He probably meant every word of it, so he might as well own it.

    July 9, 2012 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  7. Mary_Lakeland

    Most small business owners do not have a 250K bottom line profit on their books for a year. If they do, they should seek a new accounting firm to manage their assets.
    This tax increase, or removal of tax cuts for those making over 250K is so misunderstood, and misrepresented!
    They are using the general public's lack of the S-Corp, LLC, Parnership and Sole Proprietor filings, and how the income travels to their personal tax return.
    This is 250K PROFIT per partner, or total when split and added to their wages! How many small businesses are making this profit, AND not reinvesting most of it back into their business in the form of assets, vehicles, equipment, etc?
    Depreciation and Amortization also comes off this bottom line.
    Don't believe the hype!

    July 9, 2012 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  8. notbridge

    How come Rupublicans are only interested in "our individual freedoms are being stripped away by the Federal Government" when it's in regards to insurance? They don't seem to have a problem stripping our freedoms away when it's gay rights, abortion rights, rights to unionize, freedom FROM religion, freedom to ingest medicinal mary jane, the list goes on and on.....

    July 9, 2012 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  9. Robrob

    Why does it seem one side of the government hates the government?

    July 9, 2012 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  10. Tyler Warner

    What a loon. Had a friend from Maine who said half the state was absolutely embarrassed by his presence. Not surprising given he spent tax dollars to remove a mural depicting workers rights...

    July 9, 2012 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  11. Reject Repugs

    are we surprised here?
    this typifies repug sensitivity.
    morons all.
    SUPPORT PRESIDENT OBAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    reject repugs- sweeep them out!!!!

    July 9, 2012 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  12. judith

    What do you expect of a Tea-Party Thug? Surely the citizens of Maine elected this twit by mistake?

    July 9, 2012 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  13. HenryB

    There we go, another GOP "governor". I swear, there is not one current Republican that is not a total tool. The redneck bobble heads just follow along, do not think for themselves, and do not realize that they are being had by the real masters, the Republicans with brains who love to play the rednecks.

    July 9, 2012 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  14. J.V.Hodgson

    I believe in some areas of Maine he is unaffectionately referred as L'idiot.
    These remarks just confirm the view in no uncertain terms.
    His performance here makes the election for the Senaet seat vacated by Olympia Snowe a much closer race.
    The ex Dem governor running for Senate may just win the upcoming Senate election.
    Regards,
    Hodgson..

    July 9, 2012 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  15. BSH

    The real disappointment is that he misidentified the US Gestapo. He should've tagged the TSA.

    July 9, 2012 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  16. Lenny Pincus

    The right wing has made such a habit of making these asinine, sophmoric statements that apologies are worthless. Anyone who would compare anything in American government to the Gestapo neither knows what he is talking about nor is concerned with just how corrosive such statements are. But that is now par for the course,

    July 9, 2012 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  17. smc

    I know some Republicans like this governor are just too dumb to get it, but if you give someone a tax break to buy a Prius, it means everyone else is paying more taxes to pay for their tax break. Oh wait, Bush already did that, there is no new taxation power to compel behavior.

    July 9, 2012 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  18. Greg

    The governor could have ignored the word 'gestapo', but Americans can and do easily understand that the gestapo's concern for the jews in 1940 Germany can be easily compared to the concern that the republicans show towards the working and lower class Americans. People should give the governor due for bringing light to such republican behavior.

    July 9, 2012 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  19. paul1121

    I wonder if we have another Budd Dwyer here. Just waiting on the vid.

    July 9, 2012 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  20. ThinkAgain

    Typical Repub! Comparing President Obama to Hitler, albeit indirectly. It's all projection on the part of the GOP: By calling others Nazis, they hope to distract people from the fact that they are indeed fascist.

    July 9, 2012 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  21. ThinkAgain

    The Repub gov is a dimwit! Unlike if you refuse to pay your taxes, the IRS, while tasked with collecting the penalty, can’t throw you in jail or put a lien on your home or other property. In other words, if you don't pay the penalty you have NOT committed a crime.

    If you are supposed to get a refund on your taxes and you owe the penalty, the IRS will deduct the amount you owe from your refund. If you owe anything further, it will be on the books as an obligation that the IRS will collect in the future (for example, by deducting it from future tax refunds).

    Get it?

    I really feel sorry for those folks out there who are letting themselves once again be scared by the GOP into voting against their own self-interest!

    July 9, 2012 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  22. Olaf Big

    IRS bashing simply plays on the ignorance of an average American voter. American tax system is arcane, inefficient and full of loopholes, but don't blame IRS for this. Blame your Congressman, who along with his predecessors and colleagues from both parties packed the tax code with monstrous nonsense. The tax rates themselves are not the probelm. We pay less taxes than any other first world nation. How about we start asking questions that require intelligent answers, such as: What is the tax revenue spent on and how to spend this money more effectively?

    July 10, 2012 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  23. steven harnack

    All you have to do is mention "tea-party support" and it's a given that something ignorant will be said, followed by a pseudo-apology that further insults the offended party/s. You wouldn't think that Republicans would want to bring up the subject of heavy handed police organizations what with all of the "show-me-your-papers" legislation that they have been promoting.

    July 10, 2012 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  24. svann

    Just too bad breaking Godwin's law is not an impeachable offense.

    July 10, 2012 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  25. LMC

    Amazing how apologetic people are after intentional gaffes.

    July 10, 2012 01:11 am at 1:11 am |
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