(CNN) — Maine Democrats pounced on Gov. Paul LePage this weekend for referring to the Internal Revenue Service as the “Gestapo” in his weekly radio address on Saturday.
In a speech blasting the Supreme Court’s recent decision to uphold President Barack Obama’s health care reform, the Republican governor directly addressed the high court’s ruling of the law’s penalty as a “tax.”
LePage argued that Congress could now use its taxation power to “compel behavior or lack thereof,” and asked what the government would do next: “More taxes if we don’t drive Toyota Priuses or if we eat too much junk food or maybe even pea soup?”
He continued: “This decision has made America less free. We the people have been told there is no choice. You must buy health insurance or pay the new Gestapo — the I.R.S.”
LePage’s office posted his prepared remarks on his website, which includes the sentence about the Gestapo. It also links to audio of the speech, but the link fails to connect to the actual clip.
Democratic state lawmakers, seizing on the comments, charged the governor with trivializing those who suffered under the Gestapo, the secret police force that operated under Nazi-controlled Germany.
House Democratic Leader Representative Emily Cain and Assistant Democratic Leader Senator Justin Alfond said the language was “intentionally offensive.”
“This goes beyond political rhetoric,” Cain said in a statement.
Her office added that LePage, who’s known for making off-the-cuff statements in the past, read his speech from prepared remarks, and did not ad-lib the remark during his address.
“The Governor’s comparison of the IRS to the Gestapo is shameful and ignorant. His comment trivializes an historic atrocity and mischaracterizes ObamaCare for the sake of political divisiveness,” her colleague, Alfond, said in a statement.
LePage was elected in 2010 with tea party support. His office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.