Maine’s controversial tea party Gov. Paul LePage has finally admitted comments he made about drug dealers fueling a heroin epidemic in the state were actually about Black men.
LePage got into trouble last month when he said Black drug dealers were behind a rise in heroin use and were also impregnating young white women.
“Guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty … come up here, they sell their heroin, and they go back home,” he said. “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 that we’ve got to deal with down the road.”
But after he received nationwide criticism for his racially charged words, LePage tried to back down from his statement.
“I never said anything about white or Black traffickers. … What are they, Black? I don’t know. I just read the names,” he said during a press conference.
Now he has finally admitted that his comments were about Black drug dealers. LePage claims he had to make a controversial statement to get the attention of federal law enforcement.
“I had to go scream at the top of my lungs about Black dealers coming in and doing the things that they’re doing to our state,” he said on WVOM radio. “I had to scream about guillotines and those types of things before they were embarrassed into giving us a handful of DEA agents. That is what it takes with this 127th [legislature]. It takes outrageous comments and outrageous actions to get them off the dime.”
According to The Huffington Post, LePage has also joked about ending the drug epidemic by bringing back the guillotine and shooting drug dealers on sight. However Nick Wing, senior viral editor for Huff Post, tweeted a photo of three Maine drug dealers who were recently arrested. They were all white.
— Nick Wing (@nickpwing) January 8, 2016
According to census data, white people make up 95 percent of the state’s population. Blacks account for a little over 1 percent of the population.
LePage became governor in 2011. He was part of a wave of tea party politicians elected to state and federal positions. Even before his latest PR disaster, he was known for his controversial remarks. He once said President Barack Obama “hates white people” and also told the NAACP to “kiss his butt,” after he refused an invitation to a Martin Luther King Day celebration. He has also made offensive remarks about state workers and Maine newspapers. After using a fighter jet simulator, LePage said, “I want to find the Portland Press Herald building and blow it up.”
Le Page also has a contentious relationship with Maine’s Democratic-controlled State House. According to Huff Post, Maine Democrats recently failed in their attempt to impeach LePage, who is currently in his second term.
In addition, LePage has publicly feuded with famous Maine native and resident novelist Stephen King. LePage accused King of leaving the state to avoid paying taxes. But King responded by saying he pays more than a million dollars annually in taxes.
“Governor LePage is full of the stuff that makes the grass grow green,” King said.