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Business says state threatened action if safety guidelines not followed at Trump Jr. rally

Donald Trump Jr. was scheduled to speak at Hermon business Thursday.
President Trump's son holds political rally in Holden earlier this month.
President Trump's son holds political rally in Holden earlier this month.(WABI)
Published: Oct. 29, 2020 at 12:31 PM EDT
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HERMON, Maine (WABI) - The owners of a Hermon business say state officials told them action would be taken against them if they hosted Thursday night’s Donald Trump Jr. rally and were in non-compliance safety guidelines.

A statement provided to TV5 from Greenway Equipment Sales owners Tyler and Mitchell Smith says DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew sent a letter Wednesday night.

They say Lambrew quote, “referenced the state’s guidelines for large gatherings and stated that if there was non-compliance with the executive orders and guidelines, the state would take all reasonable and practicable actions to protect the health and safety of Maine people,” end quote.

The Smiths say they contact the Trump campaign, and campaign officials made the decision to move the rally.

The Smiths say they feel strongly about their right to assemble and were taking steps to ensure safety at the event.

They say quote, “To say that our family is disappointed is an understatement. The threat of repercussions on our business caused concern, and despite our efforts, we realized that some variables were beyond our control.”

The rally has been moved to Calvary Chapel in Orrington.

When asked about the event, Maine DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said during Thursday’s briefing that they have shared a copy of state guidelines with the church.

“We have shared our guidance on public health and large gatherings with the facility hosting the event,” said Lambrew. “We expect them for the sake of public health to comply, but we don’t yet want to speculate on what that event will entail. It is possible and it has been proven true and possible here in Maine that you can hold events, large gatherings safely. We urge them to follow that guidance and hope that they do.”

Here is the full statement from the Greenway Owners.

TODAY’S TRUMP RALLY MOVED

Hermon, Maine – At 5:06 p.m. last evening, we received a letter from DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew stating that the media had informed state officials that we would be hosting a political event today. She referenced the state’s guidelines for large gatherings and stated that if there was non-compliance with the executive orders and guidelines, the state would take all reasonable and practicable actions to protect the health and safety of Maine people. Upon receipt of that letter and after consultation with the Trump campaign officials, they made the decision to move this rally to another location in the area.

Our family has been involved in politics for generations, along with being small business owners. We are proud to have provided jobs for hundreds of Maine families since our grandfather started his business in Aroostook County in 1948. We were honored to have been chosen to host this event. Since we were first approached last week, President Trump made a last-minute visit to our area on Sunday. This event drew much media attention and criticism.

We feel strongly about our right to assemble and show support for the candidates of our choice, and we were taking every step to ensure that our family, employees, and the attendees at this rally would be safe. Masks and social distancing were at the top of that list. We understood the challenges of enforcing these requests and had full cooperation from the Trump campaign and event organizers.

To say that our family is disappointed is an understatement. The threat of repercussions on our business caused concern and, despite our efforts, we realized that some variables were beyond our control. We thank everyone for their words of support and encouragement over the last few days. We are respectful of the fact that not everyone supports the same candidate. We are blessed to be Americans and to have the right to vote. We encourage everyone to exercise that right. We are living in an exceptionally challenging time. We also encourage everyone to exercise respect and show appreciation for all we have as Americans.

- Tyler & Mitchel Smith, Owners

Greenway Equipment Sale

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