AUGUSTA – Democratic leaders held an emergency meeting of the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs (AFA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) Committees but failed to invite Republican leaders.
House Minority Leader Ken Fredette (R-Newport) said in a press release it is customary for majority leadership to discuss legislative hearings with minority leadership, but Democrats have repeatedly failed to communicate with Republicans.
“We had no idea this was happening,” said Fredette. “[House Speaker Mark Eves (D-North Berwick)] and his office never contacted me or my staff about this emergency meeting which they planned a week ago,” he said.
“Speaker Eves has my e-mail address and my cell phone number,” he said. ” His actions as Speaker in not notifying Republican leadership are irresponsible during this time of great uncertainty at the federal level and call into question Democratic leadership’s response to the federal government shutdown. This should be a time of collaboration and communication, not politics as usual.”
“This lack of communication from the Democrats tells me two things,” said Fredette. “First, it’s ironic how Democrats have been attacking Gov. LePage over a supposed lack of communication, yet they turn around and do the same thing with their own colleagues in the legislature. Second, if this were a substantive meeting about solving problems, perhaps we would have known. But it’s clear that Democrats simply wanted to drag [DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew] before the committees for a photo-op where they could attack the Administration.”
Assistant House Minority Leader Alex Willette (R-Mapleton) was also unaware of Wednesday’s emergency meeting. “This isn’t productive,” said Willette. “It’s exactly the type of political showmanship and hypocrisy that we’re seeing in Washington, D.C. right now.”
Fredette said he is confident in Commissioner Mayhew’s ability to appeal the federal government’s decision to cut off $20 million in funding to Riverview Psychiatric Hospital.
“I’m encouraged by the fact that Attorney General Mills and Commissioner Mayhew are working closely together in a bipartisan manner to solve this problem and fight for funding for this institution which is vital to the health and well-being of our state,” he said.