Campaigning leads to threat complaint

By Juliette Laaka | Feb 28, 2014
At the center of the debate is this flier, issued during the 2012 November election.

A complaint to the Knox County Sheriff's Office by a legislative candidate against a sitting representative is causing one to cry foul at an accusation of harassment, calling it a politically motivated tactic to silence him.

According to Independent Legislator Jeffrey Evangelos of Friendship, he received a phone call from the Knox County Sheriff's Office to speak with him concerning a complaint filed against him by Republican candidate Wesley Richardson.

Richardson, of Warren, a former four-term legislator and interim Waldoboro Town Manager, is seeking election to House District 95.

The inquiry to the sheriff's office centers around a political mailer from the 2012 election that targeted Evangelos' campaign. The flier was paid for by the Maine Conservative political action committee based in Nobleboro.

Richardson is listed on a state document by the Maine Ethics Commission as a decision maker for the group, and although Richardson confirmed he was a member of the group, he said he never saw or reviewed the flier.

Richardson said he is concerned for his personal safety, and contacted the sheriff's office because a statement made by Evangelos to a third party about him was threatening.

He declined to repeat what the threatening remark was, but said he asked the third party to write down what was said. This written statement was what he brought to the sheriff's office.

"This issue is two years old and needs to be settled," Richardson said. " I don't know where this is coming from, or where it's going," he said.

Evangelos said he thought the call from the Sheriff's Office was in reference to some legislative matters he was working on with Attorney General Janet Mills and Sheriff Donna Dennison concerning the product Spice.

"I document a public fact concerning his role as a decision maker and he runs to the sheriff like a squealing puppy with his tail between his legs and tries to have me silenced. If it wasn't so pathetic it would be funny," Evangelos said.

Evangelos said the police told him Richardson doesn't like that he linked his name to the political mailers because explosives are pictured on the attack mailers and he is objecting to being connected to an activity that pictured explosives.

"I told the sheriff that if he doesn't like it, he shouldn't have signed up with this PAC that was funded and created for the sole purpose of attacking Sen. Richard Woodbury and myself," he said.

Knox County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Tim Carroll confirmed an inquiry was made about what options one party had in reference to statements being made. Carroll would not confirm who had made the inquiry as his position bars him from doing so. He did say the issue is a civil matter, not a criminal matter, and his office will not be pursuing a further investigation

"It is unfortunate, but when you're in the political spotlight, things will be said about you whether it is supported by facts or not," Carroll said.

He added it is really a free speech issue and statements may have been taken out of context.

The men are not running against each other this term. They are seeking seats in different districts, although the pair has campaigned against each other previously, in 2004. Richardson defeated Evangelos for the former House District 49 seat.

Richardson said the root of the discontent is from the 2004 election.

One of the mailers had pictured explosives near Evangelos' face and referred to him as a liberal extremist. Richardson said the quotes on the flier were not false.

Richardson said the issue should have been brought to the Maine Ethics Commission two years ago if his involvement in the PAC was a problem.

Evangelos said $37,500 was spent by the PAC and most of the budgets went to fund mailers against him and Woodbury.

"Given the nature of these attack mailers and the use of pictured explosives, this is clearly conduct unbecoming of a legislator, " Evangelos said. "Add to this the fact that he has now wasted the precious valuable time of the sheriff and chief deputy who have more important and productive things to do with their time than deal with his irresponsible behavior and disgraceful accusations.

Evangelos said he appreciated Dennison's fair mindedness.

"Can anyone imagine the outcome if we had a Tea Party Sheriff in these same circumstances? That's what usually goes on in corrupt third world nations, which often result in political prisoners. Richardson's decision and attempt to manipulate law enforcement in an effort to attack me is as low as it gets, it's a disgrace to Knox County," he said.

Evangelos said if Richardson was to apologize, he would accept the apology and forgive him.

Richardson said he will not be speaking with Evangelos about the situation.

Courier Publications' reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or via email ta jlaaka@courierpublicationsllc.com.

Comments (16)
Posted by: Walter Foster | Mar 03, 2014 18:02

Case closed !

Is political criticism a threat? Former Maine lawmaker complains to sheriff about current legislator

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff
Posted March 03, 2014, at 2:55 p.m.
Last modified March 03, 2014, at 5:10 p.m.
Wes Richardson in 2004.
Wes Richardson in 2004.

ROCKLAND, Maine — A former state representative who is seeking to return to the Maine House filed a complaint last month with the Knox County Sheriff’s Office claiming he felt personally threatened by a current legislator’s criticism.

But the candidate who lodged the complaint, former Rep. Wes Richardson, a Republican from Warren, later acknowledged that there was no threat.

The chief deputy of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office said that no crime occurred and no action will be taken.

Richardson confirmed Saturday that he filed the complaint after a third party contacted him about statements made by independent state Rep. Jeffrey Evangelos of Friendship.

Richardson acknowledged Saturday that Evangelos made no threats against him. Instead, he said he went to the sheriff’s office after he heard Evangelos was criticizing him about a political flier that had been circulated to residents in the 2012 election for House District 49, which Evangelos won.

Evangelos said Monday that Richardson owes an apology to both him and the sheriff’s office for making a false complaint.

“Richardson’s fabricated claim against me spells a new low in our local politics,” Evangelos said Monday.

Richardson said, however, that he may take the matter to the Maine Commission on Ethics and Election Practices.

Richardson said that the constituent, whom he declined to identify, had contacted him after meeting with Evangelos on Jan. 31. Richardson initially said he felt personally threatened by the remarks made by Evangelos to the constituent.

When asked specifically what it is that he claims the legislator said, Richardson said the threat complaint derived from Evangelos’ criticism of him for a 2012 flier that a political group with which Richardson was associated distributed to voters in an effort to convince them not to vote for Evangelos.

Richardson denied any involvement in the flier and wants Evangelos to stop bringing up the subject. The Republican said by continuing to refer to the flier, Evangelos makes him concerned about his personal safety.

Richardson and Evangelos are not running against each other. The two had been in the same district. Richardson defeated Evangelos in 2004 when Evangelos was a Democrat. Richardson served four two-year terms but could not seek re-election in 2012 due to the state’s term limits law.

Evangelos ran as an independent in 2012 in that district and defeated Republican Robert Carter of Warren.

In that 2012 race, a political action committee mailed out a flier that referred to Evangelos as an extremist. The flier contained a photo of Evangelos with an explosive ready to detonate under his face.

Evangelos criticized that flier two years ago as being over the line in terms of political discourse. Richardson was a member of the PAC that funded the flier.

This year, legislative redistricting moved Friendship — Evangelos’ hometown — outside of the district in which Richardson resides.

Evangelos said he was called by the chief deputy of the sheriff’s office on Feb. 19 and initially thought the department was calling about two bills that he was working on concerning public safety. The Friendship area representative said when the chief deputy told him that Richardson had filed a complaint against him, he was in disbelief.

“Let me get this straight, this PAC can send attack mailers out, calling me extreme, picturing explosives under my face ready to detonate and that’s OK. But I dare to talk about the public documented record of who was behind it and I land in the sheriff’s office?” Evangelos said.

He labeled Richardson’s complaint a politically motivated effort to destroy him and his chances at re-election.

“I document a public fact concerning his role as a decision maker and he runs to the sheriff like a squealing puppy with his tail between his legs and tries to have me silenced. If it wasn’t so pathetic, it would be funny,” Evangelos said.

Chief Deputy Tim Carroll said that after speaking with both parties, the sheriff’s department will take no action on Richardson’s complaint.

“It’s not a criminal issue. Unfortunately, it’s the way of politics,” Carroll said.



Posted by: catherine e trueman | Mar 03, 2014 14:41

I was unaware that I was writing about "full disclosure".  Since Mr. Bowers seems to think it is important, I will happily and proudly state that I am Wes Richardson's friend, partner and companion.  This puts me in a position to be aware of the facts that were misconstrued in this article. If Mr. Bowers really needs to know the name of the third party, he can call the Sheriff's Office and request it. 



Posted by: James Bowers | Mar 03, 2014 13:41

If Catherine Trueman wants to write about full disclosure perhaps she should disclose her relationship to Wes Richardson and certainly Martha and Catherine should state the name of this supposed "third party".

Wes has been trying for two years to distance himself from that PAC that sent out scurrilous propaganda but his name was all over the official documents filed with the ethics commission. If the mailing was sent out without his approval or somebody else was pulling the strings he should disclose that name.

For full disclosure purposes I should state that I was Treasurer of the Maine Democratic State Committee for ten years and when a very nasty mailing went out in 2000 with my name authorizing it I resigned my position as I had not  authorized the piece.



Posted by: catherine e trueman | Mar 03, 2014 10:51

Martha is correct about people jumping to conclusions.  Wes Richardson is not involved in a smear campaign.  He had concerns for his personal safety and acted on that.  There was a statement made recently by Mr. Evangelos, to a third party, that was repeated to Mr. Richardson.  The statement caused concern to both the third party, and Mr. Richardson, and he quietly took it to the Sheriff's Office to ask for advice and/or help.  Wes Richardson did not publicize the concerns, nor did he take it to the newspaper.  The statement had nothing to do with a campaign flyer from 2 years ago.  That subject was brought up to him during the interview.  He is stating that if Mr. Evangelos had such a concern about that flyer, then he should have brought it before the board of ethics when it was mailed out.  Wes Richardson is not making accusations or name calling.  He was approached by the Courier, and explained his concerns.  The article itself is very poorly written, which is adding to the confusion.  These men are not running against each other in the upcoming election, due to recent district changes.  As powerful as I would love to believe Wes Richardson is, those changes were not tailored to him, as Mr. Evangelos has stated in the past.  Wes Richardson is currently the Interim Town Manager of Waldoboro, which will be in Jeff Evengelos' new district.This posistion has created a very vocal disapproval from Mr. Evangelos. Perhaps this has added to his ire, and thus the threatening remark?  At any rate, it is imprortant for people to understand the facts.  It would be very interesting to know how Ms. Laaka found out about this, and wrote the article.  Perhaps that would be an insight as to exactly who is trying to cause a "smear campaign" as suggested...?



Posted by: Martha Johnston-Nash | Mar 03, 2014 01:15

Hold on, folks! Unfortunately you don't have all the facts here, and are making some wild accusations based upon the info you've been fed. Although I don't know all the details, I do know the complaint is based on recent statements by Evangelos. Because there are contentious incidents in the past involving these two, it is assumed it stems from that. Maybe the recent statements by Rep. Evangelos result from bad feelings going back to then, but I can assure you that Mr. Richardson has long since gotten past that race.

Fact: the two are not running against each other. Rep Evangelos will be running against (also) incumbent Rep. Ellen Winchenbach of Waldoboro because of District changes. Former Rep. Richardson is running for a new District seat.

Before we jump to conclusions we need to get all the facts. Mr. Evangelos would rather have you focus on the old race than take responsibility for his recent rantings.



Posted by: James York | Mar 01, 2014 12:48

In today's politics, where as in Arizona Repub politicians tried cloak bigotry with words like religious freedom, its not surprising that the Repubs locally have hacks attacking the few that are willing speak truth to power.  I respect the voters of Friendship who have an independent voice in the statehouse - in fact I wouldn't expect anything less from the fine and independent people of Friendship.

 



Posted by: Charlotte Davenhill | Mar 01, 2014 11:13

Jeff Evangelos represents a viewpoint that only seems extreme when contrasted against such ideas as the one where it's okay to pay workers so poorly that they can't make ends meet without government assistance while railing against all forms of government assistance. I like a person who's not afraid to ask questions and take a thoughtful stand when so many are running with the herd. We wonder how the bullies of history were able to get away with it?



Posted by: Nathan D Marvin | Mar 01, 2014 09:14

Richardson and his ilk can't win over peoples' minds, so they  smear anyone who disagrees with them.  Nothing to see here, folks, but a Tea-Party witch hunt.



Posted by: Nathan D Marvin | Mar 01, 2014 09:10

Pure political horse pucky coming from Richardson, because he seems to feel he can't win any other way.  He waited 2 years to convey that a threat was made against him??  Really??  I guess he couldn't have felt too threatened in that case.  Even the investigating officer seems to think the complaint is slim on facts.  One either has to be gullible to the nth degree to believe this nonsense or be a republican hack.  Jeff is a hard-working, dedicated representative for his district.  He is not the kind to go around intimidating others with threats.  Please, people!  Come to your senses and see this for the ridiculous, politically-motivated crap that it is.  Without further substantiation and facts, this claim borders on libel.

 



Posted by: Norman D Carver | Mar 01, 2014 08:33

Maybe we need to elect some adults to the legislature!!!!!



Posted by: Dale Landrith | Mar 01, 2014 07:37

Mr. Evangelos last exposure in the press was to attack someone viciously who was only trying to inspire those who are either unemployed or under employed on to better things.  I think I see a pattern here.



Posted by: Ronald Murray | Mar 01, 2014 07:21

Perhaps neither belongs in today's political arenas. Neither seems to be willing to sit down and discuss the problem. Kind of reminds you of the way things go in the legislature in Augusta.  Can't focus on the issues but can throw mud and complain.  Step down gentlemen and let others who can work together run for the offices. Pathetic as this article seems to be it hits a familiar tone.

 



Posted by: glen r thompson | Mar 01, 2014 00:05

With so many of the facts being left out of this article one finds it near impossible to make a fair analysis.   However, from what I do see, it at least appears that Evangelos could be a bit unstable and definitely extreme in his views.  Certainly not someone I would entertain voting for.



Posted by: Shawn Levasseur | Feb 28, 2014 18:00

What's missing from this article is exactly what was said, and in what context, that is supposedly a threat?

<blockquote>"Richardson said he is concerned for his personal safety, and contacted the sheriff's office because a statement made by Evangelos to a third party about him was threatening"</blockquote>

What was the threat? Who was the third party.

All the information about campaigns and campaign literature in the article distract from the core of this controversy.

Unless court actions are taken, I doubt that this is an attempt to silence Evangelos, (and any such attempt would be highly likely to fail).

Either Evangelos said something that sounded like a true threat to Richardson, or Richardson is taking a hyperbolic statement by Evangelos and making more of it than there is out of fear of a true threat or a desire to smear Evangelos.

I see it as a toss up as to what the real deal is, other than that these two guys just don't like each other.

The "imagine if we had a Tea Party Sheriff" crack is a bit much. Evangelos uses a straw-man argument to smear people who would like less government spending.



Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Feb 28, 2014 16:48

Maybe both of them should stop acting like the south end of a north bound horse.



Posted by: Clifton Yattaw, Jr | Feb 28, 2014 16:32

Jeff is a liberal nut, and if you vote him in you get

what you deserve



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Juliette Laaka
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Juliette primarily covers the cops and courts beat for The Courier-Gazette.

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