A group of protesters gathers by the home of Leonard Leo on Monday. (From left) Jessie Greenbaum of Mount Desert, Caroline Pryor of Mount Desert, Amy Trafton of Tremont, Korey Smith and Zack Fitzgerald of Tremont, Maddie Good of Bar Harbor, Renee Labor of Mount Desert and Lyn Gatz of Bar Harbor. ISLANDER PHOTO BY FAITH DEAMBROSE

Man arrested at protest for earlier NEH incident 

NORTHEAST HARBOREli Durand-McDonnell, 21, of Bar Harbor was arrested for disorderly conduct in Northeast Harbor at 6:30 p.m. Sunday. 

He was arrested at a peaceful protest in front of the South Shore Road home of Leonard Leo, who advised former President Donald Trump on the nomination of several Supreme Court justices. 

But Durand-McDonnell was arrested for an incident that took place earlier on Sunday at a different location in Northeast Harbor. Mount Desert Police Chief Jim Willis said he could not disclose the nature of that incident, citing “an ongoing investigation with pending court action.” But it has been reported that Durand-McDonnell allegedly shouted obscenities at Leo and his family in downtown Northeast Harbor. 

Durand-McDonnell was taken to the Hancock County Jail in Ellsworth and was later released on bail. 

Leo, a seasonal resident of Northeast Harbor, has been the object of protests before. The latest round of protests began after the Supreme Court’s anti-abortion rights decision was announced June 24. 

For the last few weeks, area residents have been holding semi-regular gatherings across the road from Leo’s home. With large posters, including a nearly 6-foot-tall vinyl sign of Leo that says, “Leonard Leo may be a really nice guy, but he is also directly responsible for the overturning of Roe v Wade and the erosion of your reproductive rights,” the group says they are “speaking truth to power.” 

Mount Desert resident Caroline Pryor said she is not only upset about the role Leo has played in lifting judges to critical decision-making positions, including to the Supreme Court, but is also concerned about court decisions yet to come on critical issues such as climate change, gun control and marriage equality.  

“Mainers stand for abortion rights, marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, equality and clean elections,” said Pryor. “And Leonard Leo is the anthesis of what Mainers stand for. 

“We’re better than this,” added Pryor. 

The group of protestors outside Leo’s home continued to grow Monday afternoon. They say they are focused on educating people about Leo and his work.  

“If you don’t have the correct information, how can you form an opinion?” asked Bar Harbor resident Maddie Good. 

Leo is co-chairman and former executive vice president of the Federalist Society, an organization of conservatives and libertarians that supports an “originalist interpretation” of the U.S. Constitution. It advocates for the appointment of anti-abortion rights judges to the federal courts. 

Leo advised Trump on the nomination of a number of federal court judges and, according to the Federalist Society, assisted with the selection and confirmation process for Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.  

In 2017, according to national news reports, Leo and former White House Counsel Don McGahn met with Trump in the Oval Office and gave him the names of five judges to add to his list of potential Supreme Court nominees. Two of the five names on the new list were Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, who Trump nominated to succeed the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. 

The New Yorker magazine has called Leo “in effect, Trump’s subcontractor” for nominations to the Supreme Court.

Leo purchased his summer home on South Shore Road in October 2018. On Aug. 8, 2019, he hosted a campaign fundraising event there for Maine U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, who was in attendance. 

Additional reporting for this story by Faith DeAmbrose. 


Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]

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