LOS ANGELES (MCT) — Maine Gov. Paul LePage has refused to give in to demands that he apologize for comparing the Internal Revenue Service to the Gestapo, but he said he never intended to insult anyone or “minimize” the misdeeds carried out by Nazi Germany’s secret police force.
LePage triggered controversy when he blasted President Barack Obama’s health care program during his weekly radio address: “We the people have been told there is no choice. You must buy health insurance or pay the new Gestapo — the IRS.”
Those comments were immediately denounced by many within the Jewish community as well as others, who say they are disappointed that LePage did not formally apologize.
Here’s the full statement released Monday by LePage’s office:
“It was not my intent to insult anyone, especially the Jewish Community, or minimize the fact that millions of people were murdered.
“Clearly, what has happened is that the use of the word Gestapo has clouded my message. Obamacare is forcing the American people to buy health insurance or else pay a tax. Our health care system is moving toward one that rations care and negatively impact millions of Americans.
“We no longer are a free people. With every step that Obamacare moves forward, our individual freedoms are being stripped away by the Federal Government. This should anger all Americans.”
The statement did not satisfy many, including Derrek L. Shulman, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, New England.
“I don’t see the words, ‘I apologize,’ anywhere in his statement,” said Shulman told the Los Angeles Times. “The governor’s statement is insufficient and disappointing.”
Shulman said the governor’s word choice downplays the horrors carried out by the Gestapo. “It’s the ultimate disrespect to the many victims — Jews and non-Jews — of the Gestapo. We are talking about a brutal police force,” he said. “That is just so far out of bounds, and deeply offensive.”