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Democrats chide LePage over transparency push

LePageAUGUSTA – Maine Democrats have launched a campaign against Republican Gov. Paul R. LePage’s two-month old policy regarding communications between the legislative and executive branches of state government.

The governor, in characteristic fashion, will have nothing of it.

The policy, first announced on Aug. 14, requires all communication between LePage administration officials and the Democrat-controlled Legislature’s committees be in writing.

On Monday, House Majority Leader Seth A. Berry (D-Bowdoinham) and Sen. Linda M. Valentino (D-Saco) penned an opinion editorial for the Bangor Daily News blasting LePage’s “unprecedented” policy.

“We have never encountered such unfathomable behavior,” wrote the lawmakers. Although Valentino and Berry called the policy a “gag order” and “the silent treatment,” LePage contends the administration has been very communicative — in writing.

LePage reaffirmed his policy in a letter sent to Democratic committee chairs Tuesday, pulling no punches in the process.

“I was not surprised by your frustration with the protocol we have established for communicating with legislative committees,” LePage said in the letter. “Having become accustomed to one-party rule for so long, perhaps you believe the Executive Branch is still at your beck and call.”

“It must be frustrating to have to start conducting your work in a businesslike way,” he said. “To be clear, we have not refused to cooperate with the Legislature, and there is no ‘gag order.’”

According to LePage, his policy is meant to make the legislative process more thorough and efficient, while allowing the public to view written communications that are entered into the public record. He also said Democrat committee chairs are wasting his staff members’ time in an attempt to generate anti-LePage media hits.

“The days of having commissioners, deputy commissioners, assorted bureau directors and technical staff sitting in legislative committee rooms for hours on end, just in case you wish to pose a question, are over,” said LePage. “We prefer thorough, well-written communications that can be entered into the public record without distortion from the media or partisan policymakers.”

In the letter, LePage said his administration has answered – in writing – every question posed by committees and speculates that Democrats are fussing over his policy to try to score political points. “Perhaps your frustration stems from your inability to berate members of my administration in person,” he said.

“If you really wanted to ‘work together,’ you would be more respectful of me and members of my administration,” he said. “Legislative committees have treated commissioners and their staff–and the Office of the Governor–disrespectfully. Administration staff members have been chastised, scolded and badgered by you and your committees.”

“They have been kept waiting for hours while you pontificate and preen for the cameras, and then subject them to interminable, repetitive questions,” he said. “No more.”

Read LePage’s entire letter:


Steve Robinson
Maine Wire Reporter
SERobinson@themainewire.com

 

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