Maine Governor Paul LePage made headlines Friday when a voicemail was revealed of him calling a state representative a “son-of-a-bitch, socialist c—sucker” after the senator accused LePage of being racist.
LePage apologized later in the day, saying in a statement, “When someone calls me a racist, I take it very seriously. So I called Gattine and used the worst word I could think of. I apologize for that to the people of Maine, but make no apology for trying to end the drug epidemic that is ravaging our state.”
But this isn’t the first time the controversial Republican governor had to walk back offensive statements. Here are five other times LePage had to apologize.
1. When told a boy he wanted to shoot his father
In July 2015, LePage attended an annual mock legislature event for high school juniors, when the son of a Bangor Daily News cartoonist asked LePage what he thought of his father (the cartoonist, George Danby, has often depicted LePage in unflattering ways). “I’d like to shoot him,” LePage responded.
The Bangor Daily News reports that LePage wrote a personal note to Danby’s son apologizing for the remark. While the contents of the letter weren’t made public, apparently they were heartfelt. Danby’s son wrote LePage back, saying, “Thank you for the warm and thoughtful note—I appreciate your concern and frankness.”
2. When he compared the IRS to the Gestapo
In July 2012, LePage compared the Internal Revenue Service to the Gestapo twice in one week, Politico reports. First, he said in a radio address to Maine citizens that they “must buy health insurance or pay the new Gestapo—the IRS.” Later, when asked to clarify his comments, he said the IRS wasn’t as bad as the Gestapo “yet” but “they’re headed in that direction.”
LePage met with Jewish leaders to apologize and said in his weekly radio address, “The acts of the Holocaust were nothing short of horrific. Millions of innocent people were murdered and I apologize for my insensitivity to the word and the offense some took to my comparison of the IRS and the Gestapo.” He said it was “never my intent to insult or to be hurtful to anyone,” The Associated Press reports.
3. When he said drug dealers impregnate “white girls”
In January 2016, LePage used racially-charged language in a response to a town hall question about his administration’s effort to combat Maine’s drug problem.
“These aren’t the people who take drugs,” LePage said at the time. “These are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty. These type of guys. They come from Connecticut and New York, they come up here, they sell their heroin, then they go back home. Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing because then we have another issue we’ve go to deal with down the road.”
LePage later apologized, saying, “My brain was slower than my mouth.” But he continued with a swipe at the media: “Personally, I don’t really care what the press thinks about me,” he said. “What I do care is I want the drug dealers to know I’m after them…I want the Maine people to know that I may have a slip of the tongue, but my heart is to protect Maine people and that’s the end of the story.”
4. When he implied that loggers are dumb
In June 2013, while railing against state senator Troy Jackson, LePage said, “Sen. Jackson claims to be for the people, but he’s the first one to give it to the people of Maine without providing Vaseline… People like Troy Jackson, they ought to go back in the woods and cut trees and let someone with a brain come down here and do some work.”
LePage apologized to the state’s loggers for implying they don’t have brains, the Portland Press Herald reports, with another dig at Jackson in his apology. “It was never my intent to ever, ever suggest that the loggers of the state of Maine are in the same league as Troy Jackson.”
5. When he called student protesters “idiots”
In April 2016, LePage spoke at a building dedication at the University of Maine’s Farmington campus for former President Theo Kalikow. During his speech, two students held up signs protesting him, one of which said, “”LePage, Maine’s Shame,” NECN reports. LePage stormed offstage, yelling to the protesters, “Thank you, you idiots.”
Later that day, he released a statement of apology, but continued bashing the protesters in it. “First and foremost, I apologize to President Foster and especially to Theodora Kalikow for the sequence of events on Tuesday,” LePage said in the statement. “I am accustomed to daily attacks and ridicule from protestors [sic], but most people are not. Neither Theo, nor the people who were gathered to honor her, deserved for this heartfelt occasion to be disrespected by smug and self-serving protestors [sic]. If they wish to protest me, that’s fine: we all have the right to express our freedom of speech. But this event was not about me. I was sickened by the lack of respect displayed by two protestors [sic] holding up demeaning signs — including one with Theo’s name on it.”