9/6/18, by James Mosher,
Last Thursday, legislators met in Augusta for a special session. On the calendar, was a House Order sponsored by Rep. Paula Sutton (R-Warren) that questioned the forced resignation of Rep. Dillon Bates (D-Westbrook). Bates was compelled to resign because of alleged sexual abuse of high school girls while he was their drama teacher and track coach over the last five years.
Chris Busby of The Bollard broke the story, and apparently, there was enough smoke generated to compel Speaker Gideon to give Bates the boot. Where there’s smoke there’s fire!
There are several problems here worth noting:
One, the Speaker and Democratic leadership became aware that Bates was a potential predator in March of this year. No action was taken until the first week in August when a story ran in The Bollard about Bates’ alleged escapades. Paul Merrill of WMTW, who reported on the story August 4th, remarked that when pressed for answers earlier this year, a staff member from the Speaker’s office emphasized that “there was absolutely no truth” to the allegations. Merrill received confirmation that Speaker Gideon has known of the issue for months.
If there is no merit to the story, why has Bates been terminated? What new information has surfaced and how long has Speaker Gideon been keeping a lid on it?
Second, the #MeToo Movement has been effective in conditioning the culture regarding the nature of sexual harassment and abuse; “see something, say something” and “zero tolerance” have been part of the mantra of those associated with the movement. Apparently, the Speaker and her team have failed to heed the lessons regarding harassment/abuse heralded by the media since the fall of 2017; instead of investigating the claims of possible predatory behavior of one of their members, Madam Speaker and her minions kept it under wraps for months, until they were compelled to act publicly by The Bollard piece.
Third, Rep. Sutton moved last week to have the matter sent before the House Ethics Committee for proper vetting. Rep. Sutton argued that Bates was entitled to the presumption of innocence and deserved a thorough investigation before being canned. She exhorted for full discovery of the matter and pressed for answers.
What did the Speaker know and when did she know it?
It took mere minutes for House members to vote on tabling the House Order. All but one Democrat voted to put the matter behind them. To add insult to injury, Rep. Ken Fredette (R-Newport) and Rep. Ellie Espling (R-New Gloucester) threw in with the Dems to help circle the wagons in an effort to keep the heat off of the Democratic leadership in the House.
There will be no further discussion. Nothing to see here folks, move along!
It is rather ironic that later in the session last Thursday, legislators deliberated for over an hour about legislation aimed at the protection of abused children. If it wasn’t for double standards, the Dems would have no standards at all.
To put things in the proper perspective, while Bates, an alleged sexual predator, was on the loose at the State House, I was investing many hours in the spring of 2018, e-mailing, testifying, distributing fliers to House members, and holding posters in the House hallway, urging legislators to address the dangers of illegal immigration here in Maine.
In a previous column, I mentioned how the House clerk confiscated my messages to legislators — per the Speaker’s orders. My opening line was, “Funny thing with the Left, they constantly lecture about inclusivity and tolerance, but when it comes to having to live by the standards they impose upon the rest of us, they are the first to invoke special privileges.”
After weeks of pressuring Speaker Gideon for answers about why my voice had been silenced, she invited me into her office to explain the rationale behind her actions. She informed me that the maintenance of House decorum was her responsibility and that she took it seriously.
The truth is that the Speaker was more concerned about the content of my fliers, which conveyed facts about the cost of illegal immigration to our state, than she was about addressing charges that a fellow legislator may be a sexual predator.
In March of 2016, Gideon essentially labeled advocates of immigration reform here in Maine racists. She stated that a bill sponsored by Rep. Larry Lockman (R-Amherst) aimed at closing the doors to illegals here in Maine as a “blatantly racist Trump-like maneuver.”
Perhaps you will recall Gideon’s rebuke in April of this year. When the legislature approached adjournment and Republicans in the House refused to go along with a vote to extend the session, Speaker Gideon insinuated that these members along with Governor Lepage were terrorists.
It is safe to say that there are misplaced priorities in Augusta. Last Thursday was a fitting illustration of how messy things really are.
If you are concerned about safeguarding our state from predation enabled by the legislature, watch the video at the top of this column for further discussion and for an example of how to take a more active role in the much-needed remedy.