Maine lawmakers are calling for the Capitol Police chief to be placed on leave after he promoted conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and the pandemic.
In a Monday letter to Public Safety Commissioner Michael Sauschuck, the 75 lawmakers, including Democratic House Speaker Ryan Fecteau of Biddeford, called Russell Gauvin’s comments “reprehensible” and his subsequent apology for them “utterly insufficient,” according to the Portland Press Herald.
“We believe Police Chief Gauvin should be immediately placed on administrative leave while a full and transparent investigation takes place, and next steps are determined,” they said in the letter.
Gauvin made the comments on Facebook and the social media platform Parler. He mocked the use of face coverings as a method for controlling the spread of the coronavirus. Gauvin expressed sympathy for a former Maine police officer who called for violence against Black Lives Matter protesters.
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In November, Gauvin declared he had “zero confidence” in the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, echoing the rhetoric that provoked the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol that left five people dead, including a U.S. Capitol Police officer.
His social media posts were first reported about in Mainer, an alternative magazine.
Gauvin apologized Friday for his comments, saying he is committed to his duty to “uphold our laws, to do so in a fair and impartial way, and to protect the Capitol and our people.”
Gov. Janet Mills said Gauvin’s conduct would be reviewed to see if he violated state policies.
Correction: A previous version of this story had the incorrect last name for Russell Gauvin.