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May 27—Stripped of her committee assignments after refusing to obey the Legislature's requirement to wear masks in the State House, first-term Auburn Republican Laurel Libby is using the flap she created this week to raise money for her reelection.
"Help me fight to defend my seat in the House," Libby says on social media with a link to a fundraising site where she claims Democratic leaders are "going to try to expel" her from her post representing Minot and a portion of Auburn.
The fundraising aspect to Libby's stunt Monday did not escape House Speaker Ryan Fecteau, a Biddeford Democrat.
Taking note of Libby's bid for campaign cash on social media, Fecteau posted on his personal Facebook page, "Ooooooohhhhhhhh. I get it now. Treat the State House like a Hollywood set. Capture video of being asked to follow the Legislature's COVID-19 prevention policy regarding mask wearing. And then act outraged."
"But really be gleeful that you can use it to fundraise," Fecteau added.
He said he "won't tolerate those who would prefer to act like they are on a Hollywood studio set" than to carry out the Legislature's work.
Libby joined six other conservative legislators Monday for a respectful confrontation with Capitol Police who asked them to wear masks as the Legislative Council agreed to require last week.
She released a 2-minute video of the confrontation afterward that showed the seven seeking entry to the State House, asking to speak to Fecteau and ultimately walking past the officers.
"When it became clear that Capitol Security and nonpartisan staff lacked the legal authority and or applicable policies to prevent our entry, we proceeded into the State House to complete our work," the seven lawmakers said in a statement.
They cited Gov. Janet Mills' change in state rules governing masks, but nothing in her order prevents the Legislature or any business from requiring them.
It is not clear whether Libby or any of the six GOP lawmakers are vaccinated.
The Legislature generally makes its own rules to ensure safety and decorum within the historic building where the House and Senate meet.
Libby posted on social media that Fecteau "is not my employer, so he is flexing the only disciplinary muscle he has, outside of calling for my removal. That may well be the next step the Democrat majority attempts, but I have no intention of going anywhere!"
During a radio interview with WVOM in Bangor, Libby said that Fecteau's response to the Republicans who ignored the mask rule was "pretty childish" and especially wrong because he installed Democrats to replace the GOP lawmakers on their committees.
Some Auburn Democrats were not impressed with Libby's tactics.
Adam Lee, who narrowly lost a mayoral race in Auburn in 2017, called what she did "performative politics at its absolutely most cynical."
"I'm embarrassed this person represents my district in Augusta," Lee wrote on Facebook.
Some of her fans, though, are promoting her as a possible 2022 challenger to U.S. Rep. Jared Golden of Lewiston, Maine's 2nd District congressman.
Libby's advertising, though, says she is running for reelection to the state House seat she won by ousting Democratic incumbent Bettyann Sheats last fall.