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Maine House Speaker Expands Suit Against Gov. LePage Over Charter School

The political fight in Maine that features a charter school at its center continues to grow.

Maine House Speaker Mark Eves, a Democrat, filed a lawsuit last month alleging that Maine Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican, violated federal law by threatening to withhold $500,000 in state funding for Good Will-Hinckley, a non-profit group that operates a charter in Maine, unless it agreed to withdraw its offer to Eves to make him the organization's president. On Aug. 12, Eves amended that lawsuit to charge LePage with violating Maine as well as federal law.

In his suit, Eves said that LePage acted out of "personal rage, vindictiveness and partisan malice" by threatening the school with the loss of funds, according to the Associated Press. The AP reported that losing out on the $500,000 in public money would have also endangered another $2 million in private money for the school.

LePage doesn't deny that he told Good Will-Hinckley they were endangering state funds by offering its presidency to Eves. But the governor has argued he was perfectly within his rights, since in his view Eves, an opponent of legislation supporting charter schools, had no business serving as Good Will-Hinckley's president.

"Regardless of his efforts to close charter schools, he wanted a cushy job at a charter school that paid $150,000 in salary and benefits," LePage said about Eves in the Portland Press Herald last month. "The media is bending over backward to defend Eves, but Mainers see it for what it is. It's a political hack-o-rama at its worst."

Eves had signed an employment contract in May that set him on course to be the group's president, the Bangor Daily-News reported, but in June Good Will-Hinckley withdrew its offer. In his suit, the AP reports that Eves is seeking unspecified monetary damages. 

Good-Will Hinckley operates the Maine Academy of Sciences, which focuses on education in areas like forestry and other natural sciences. 

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