Rep. Heidi Sampson, R-Alfred, wears a face shield in the Maine State House in Augusta on June 2, 2021. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

The New England chapter of the Anti-Defamation League is calling on Republican state Rep. Heidi Sampson to apologize for comparing Democratic Gov. Janet Mills and her sister to German doctors who performed experiments on Jews during the Holocaust.

Sampson appeared at a State House protest this week prompted by the governor’s recent announcement requiring health care workers in Maine to get vaccinated for COVID-19 by Oct. 1.

Mills said the requirement is aimed at protecting the health of patients, noting that health care workers are already required to receive a battery of vaccinations for mumps, measles, chickenpox and other transmissible diseases.

But Sampson likened the COVID vaccine requirement to experiments performed by Nazi doctors on Jews during the Holocaust and likened the governor to Josef Mengele, the so-called Angel of Death, or Joseph Goebbels, an acolyte of Adolf Hitler.

“So we have Josef Mengele and Joseph Goebbels being reincarnated here in the state of Maine. I’ll let you figure out who is in what role but I’ll just say probably the Mengele … You probably have two by the same last name, of one is the governor. The other one is also a Mills, just to connect the dots,” Sampson said.

The other Mills is an apparent reference to the governor’s sister, former CDC director Dora Anne Mills, now at MaineHealth.

The Anti-Defamation League called the comparison “offensive, ignorant and incomparable to the events that took place during the Holocaust.”

The organization, formed in 1913 to fight the rise of anti-Semitism, also demanded that Sampson apologize.

She had not done so as of Friday afternoon.

The governor’s office declined to comment.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.