The Maine Department of Corrections (DOC) had employees take an hour off of work on Thursday for a lecture from a little-known left-wing activist, and they’re refusing to answer questions about whether the event was mandatory and how much it cost the taxpayers.
Roy King, a diversity equity and inclusion manager for the DOC, last Monday said he would talk with The Maine Wire by phone about the jail system inviting activist Nick Wagner to speak with employees.
The phone didn’t ring. Instead, King later referred us to Anna Black.
Questions submitted to Black about whether attendance for the left-wing speaker’s talk was mandatory and how much Wagner was paid were not answered.
In response, The Maine Wire filed a Freedom of Access Act request to get the information, which Black did acknowledge in an email Friday morning.
According to a letter that King emailed to all DOC employees earlier this week, a copy of which was obtained by The Maine Wire, Wagner was invited to address state employees as part of the agency’s “Featured Speaker Series.”
Wagner has never worked in a prison system but is, according to the letter, a licensed social worker and Registered Nurse. Wagner’s qualifications for addressing state employees during work hours seems to be rooted in serving as a “change agent” for the “LGBTQ+ community.”
“Nick’s presentation will discuss the LGBTQ+ community from his perspective as a transgender man to help others understand this growing community better,” King’s letter states. “Nick continues to advocate for the LGBTQ+ community as a change agent in his personal and professional communities, ensuring that diversity, equity, and inclusion concerns are heard and addressed.”
The DOC broadcast Wagner’s talk on Microsoft Teams Thursday morning at 10 am for one hour. A recording of the event has not been made public and is available only on government computers.
Black did not respond to an email asking why video of the featured speaker was being kept secret.