Maine gov apologizes for 'Gestapo' remark
July 9th, 2012
02:59 PM ET
10 years 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. Smeagel4T

    I actually remember when there was a Republican Party that demonstrated maturity and was capable of entering into a rational debate. FoxyWoxyNews and right wing rant radio have managed to destroy that party. Now the party's representatives engage in immature stunts and langage, acting exactly like shock-jocks in order to play to the right wing extremists in the country. It's not clear that Eisenhower would become a Democrat these days, but he would certainly resign his membership in the Republican Party out of sheer disgust and a desire to not be tarnished through association.

    July 10, 2012 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  2. Drew

    I'm willing to cut the guy some slack. I myself refer to Republicans as the "Gestapo"at least once a day.

    July 10, 2012 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  3. Dave

    How did I know this was going to be a quite from a Republican governor before I even read the article?

    July 10, 2012 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  4. A Mainer

    Paul LePage is an embarassment to the vast majority of Mainers (except for the ~30% of us who voted for the guy, and not even all of those are too terribly happy with their decision - you have to remember it was a three way vote won by a teeny-tiny margin!) and this article tells you all you need to know about the man.

    July 10, 2012 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  5. john riingen

    Repubteacan Party is the Party to defeat if we expect to have a better future. You know why? Because the Repubteacan Party is the Party of the 1%.

    July 10, 2012 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  6. Dieyoung

    He has nothing to apologize about, the IRS are leeches.

    July 10, 2012 02:11 am at 2:11 am |
  7. Emilio Dumphque

    The motto of the IRS is: "We Fund Freedom".

    If you're trying to weasel out of your taxes, you can't claim to be patriotic.

    July 10, 2012 02:11 am at 2:11 am |
  8. Face

    This is typical of the infuriating rhetoric the right uses since the whole T-Party thing. They wall want to get on Fox or some Drudge video using the most inflammatory rhetoric they can conjure up. How are political parties supposed to govern when one of them is entrenched in a mode of not passing any opposition sponsored legislation and attacking the President ad-infinitum? We will never get rid of this kind of rhetoric unless we throw the GOP out on their ear this November. They are obstructionist to the letter of the word, and hold our economy hostage for political b.s. We will never get away from this kind of offensive hyperbole until we send the only message a politician understands.

    July 10, 2012 03:10 am at 3:10 am |
  9. GaryB

    So Republlicans are basically taking the side of irresponsible freeloaders who refuse to buy insurance, then end up using the emergency room for medical care and expect the rest of us to pick up the tab. Once again, the Republicans just don't seem to be on the side of responsible, hard-working Americans. And what's this bull about the law rationing healthcare. If the governor had ever had to purchase insurance on the private market (which, as a small business owner, I have to do every year), he would realize that it's the insurance companies who ultimately ration healthcare. But with his government subsidized healthcare, he has no clue what he's talking about.

    July 10, 2012 05:11 am at 5:11 am |
  10. ozonator

    Typical of extremist Republicans and Christians to invade Poland a tad earlier.

    July 10, 2012 05:44 am at 5:44 am |
  11. Triple A

    Who did he think he was trying to get away with saying something like that? A Liberal.

    July 10, 2012 05:52 am at 5:52 am |
  12. Guest

    Just wait til some of these freeloading liberals get sent to jail for not paying their obamaTaxes.

    July 10, 2012 06:01 am at 6:01 am |
  13. Grahame Rhodes

    People who do not pay taxes are parasites living off people who pay them to support the USA. Parasites = Wealthy

    July 10, 2012 06:02 am at 6:02 am |
  14. SlackMeyer

    He's right. The IRS is VERY Gestapo-like. Which Liberals/Progressives/Democrat dream about. An organization to force, as my "Progressive" colleague puts it, "those who just don't know what's good for them" into a nice socialist society.

    Read George Orwell's "1984" and then you'll understand were the left in this country gets their ideas from.

    July 10, 2012 06:12 am at 6:12 am |
  15. don

    Typical GOP method. Throw gasoline on a fire then apologize.

    July 10, 2012 06:28 am at 6:28 am |
  16. John

    Whatever his choice of words, he is a liar about the facts.

    July 10, 2012 06:32 am at 6:32 am |
  17. Robert

    Funny how the party most like the Nazi's is so quick to use the word Gestapo.

    July 10, 2012 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  18. Terry

    Sorry folks, but I have felt the Republican Party was studying Mein Kampf for a long time now. The party of "Me" and "No" became enraged when a Black Man was elected POTUS. Argue all you want, but go check a few facts. More guns were sold in the United States between 2008 and 2012 than between September 12, 2001 and 2008. Since the majority of the Republican Party is White, I was not at all surprised with the comment made by Governor Le Page.

    July 10, 2012 07:00 am at 7:00 am |
  19. Frank

    This man is a horse's bottom. The taxes in the US are among the lowest in the developed world, and taxes are lower today as a percentage of GDP than at any time since 1959 (pre Medicare). Plus his statement about the taxing power is simply untrue. However, the Internal Revenue Code does have plenty of incentives for Big Oil and Big Corporations to which result in huge tax writeoffs! The Code is more like a candy store for the rich than a Gestapo manifesto!

    July 10, 2012 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  20. Reddog9500

    Typical Republican rhetoric. Right out of their playbook. If they don't have a valid argument they can always resort to name calling. Now as far as the "individual mandate" is concerned, why the hell should I have to pay for people who get sick or injured and refuse to pay for their own health insurance coverage??? Freedom?? Freedom to "freeload" is more like it.

    July 10, 2012 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  21. Michele

    What can one say about a political party that declares Donald Trump the Statesman of the Year?

    July 10, 2012 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  22. desmond24

    Maine, I love you! However, knowing that you have elected such an imbecile to be your governor, your idyllic image no longer resonates within my soul. I thought you were above such nonsense. Repent I say! Repent!

    July 10, 2012 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
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