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‘We were never told about it’: Maine brewery to close for the day after owners say they were misinformed about Trump campaign event

The owners of Stars & Stripes Brewing say a "Women for Trump" stop was unauthorized

Lara Trump at an appearance during last month's Tulsa rally with her husband, Eric.
Lara Trump at an appearance during last month's Tulsa rally with her husband, Eric.Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

The owners of a Maine brewery said they were taken by surprise when they learned this week that their business would serve as the backdrop for a high-profile event in support of President Trump’s reelection.

According to a press release on Trump’s campaign website, the “Women for Trump Bus Tour” was scheduled to host a dinner featuring Lara Trump — the president’s daughter-in-law and senior campaign adviser — at Stars & Stripes Brewing Co. in Freeport on Wednesday.

The gathering was going to be the first of three stops during a two-day bus tour through Maine and New Hampshire meant to “engage voters through round tables, meet-and-greets, and sit-downs with business owners and local leaders across the two states,” according to the details.

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Trump campaign advisers Mercedes Schlapp and Katrina Pierson; a former Florida attorney general, Pam Bondi; Dr. Demi Kouzounas, chairwoman of the Maine Republican Party; and others were set to appear at the event.

But Stars & Stripes said on Facebook Tuesday that the logistics were not fully divulged from the start, and as a result the company decided to close on Wednesday.

“Due to [an] unauthorized political event being held at our brewery we will not open our doors tomorrow,” the veteran-owned-and-operated brewery said in a statement. “Stars & Stripes Brewing was created to support veterans, services members, and the community. We do not support or take sides in political agendas.”

When someone said in a comment on the Facebook post that the statement about closing was vague, the company clarified what had happened.

”There was supposed to be a Trump support event here at our brewery, though we were never told about it,” the owners wrote.

Brad Nadeau, a Marine Corps veteran who runs the brewery with his wife, Nancy, told the Globe he didn’t know this was going to be such a formal event when someone from the campaign first reached out to him last week.

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“I guess that was me being naïve,” he said. “I didn’t think they were having any type of political agenda for it. I thought they were a bunch of women who supported Trump who were stopping by to have a beer and some pizza. Apparently that was not the case.”

After finding out additional details Monday — including the campaign asking him if the Secret Service could come do a sweep-through of his business and if he’d greet Lara Trump and others, he said — and then seeing it in the Bangor Daily News, Nadeau called organizers Tuesday morning to cancel the appearance.

“I was taken back by it,” he said, adding that he was shocked to see the brewery listed in the campaign’s press release about the bus tour.

Nadeau, whose brewery is billed as a place to honor and support veterans and military families while also supporting the local community, said the ordeal has nothing to do with him being “pro-Trump” or “anti-Trump.”

“I’m not political. I have no political stance whatsoever. I’m not pro-anybody and I’m not anti-anybody. I just don’t believe in my brewery that politics have a place,” he said. “Politics and beer don’t go together.”

After the brewery announced on Facebook that it would close on Wednesday, people both applauded and criticized the decision.

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“Good job! They should have been honest from the get-go. Glad to see you’re standing up for your principles,” one person wrote.

Another said they found it “hard to believe” the brewery’s owners didn’t realize it was a Trump campaign stop, given all the “big names” attached to the event.

“Let’s get real,” the person wrote.

By Tuesday afternoon, the campaign website had changed the location of the event to a restaurant called Jimmy the Greek’s, in Old Orchard Beach.

In a statement, the Trump campaign said that “while we continue to proudly share [the brewery’s] support of our veterans and services members, the dinner stop location has been moved.”


Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.