Campaigning leads to threat complaint
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.