When Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey disclosed Wednesday morning that he had been carrying on an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate employee, he may have left out a few salient details, according to his longtime girlfriend of 12 years — who was not acknowledged in the statement.
“Aaron was still in a relationship with me despite being separated while we attended couples therapy until last week,” Frey’s longtime girlfriend told the Maine Wire.
“I am now alone to hold down a home I shared with this man for over 12 years,” she said.
The woman spoke on the condition that she not be named. The woman provided emails with a couples therapist, video taken from a Ring doorbell camera, and other records to confirm her identity and relationship with Frey.
Frey did not respond to a request for comment regarding the allegations.
Frey did not publicly disclose that he was still in a long-term relationship when the affair began. Nor did he disclose that the subordinate was married with children.
Frey admitted to an “error of judgement” in not disclosing the affair immediately upon realizing he had feelings for his subordinate, making it sound as though the pair had intended on disclosing the relationship all along.
“A lapse of judgement doesn’t include betraying your partner and then acting like you both were free to enter this relationship,” the woman said.
The woman said she first learned of Frey’s affair when Bangor Daily News reporter Mike Shepherd called her for comment.
According to Shepherd’s report, he began investigating a tip about Frey’s office relationship earlier in the week.
But stories containing a statement from Frey appeared in other outlets Wednesday morning before the paper was able to publish a story, suggesting that Frey released a statement in an attempt to get ahead of Shepherd’s reporting, a tactic commonly used by crisis communications consultants.
Here is the statement Frey released Wednesday morning:
“Beginning in August, I became involved in a personal relationship with a colleague in my office, whom I formerly supervised. While our relationship has not violated any legal rules, office policy or law, I have directed Chief Deputy Attorney General Christopher Taub to supervise this person moving forward as this personal relationship continues. This is to ensure that we have appropriate boundaries between us. I should have done this once we realized we had feelings for one another. It was an error in judgment and for that I am sorry.”
Although Frey cast his decision to disclose the affair as a belated attempt to meet the ethical requirements of the Attorney General’s Office and state policies concerning interoffice relationships, the woman said the disclosure was actually prompted by a complaint to the Attorney General’s Office from the family of the other woman’s husband, whom she believes also leaked the story to the media.
She said the complaint was submitted to Taub and that Taub told the family Frey did nothing wrong.
The Maine Wire was not able to independently confirm who leaked the story or whether the family of the other woman’s husband submitted a complaint. The Maine Wire has submitted a Freedom of Access Act request to the Attorney General’s Office seeking records that might shed light on the events surrounding Frey’s disclosure.
The woman said many employees in the Attorney General’s Office and several high-ranking elected officials, including Senate President Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook) and Gov. Janet Mills, know who she is from various political events over the years.
“So many of the Dems have reached out to me,” she said. “Because even they know. They know he’s lying.”
Only Jackson has spoken out publicly about Frey’s disclosure, telling the Bangor newspaper Wednesday afternoon he was “disappointed” in Frey.
The woman said she sent information on Wednesday to Jackson.
“I’m afraid Troy was just playing a part,” she said.
Jackson did not respond to a text message asking for comment.
Frey’s brief statement to the media also neglected to mention that the employee with whom he’d carried on a clandestine relationship with for eight months was married with kids.
Press reports citing court records indicate that the other woman filed for divorce in March. The Maine Wire has chosen not to name the other woman at this time.
According to the statement Frey released to media outlets, he has enlisted the services of Cara Courchesne, a Lewiston-based PR consultant and the wife of Anthony Ronzio.
Ronzio is a former Executive Editor of the Bangor Daily News who now serves in the Mills Administration as a Deputy Director of Strategic Communications and Public Affairs.
The Mills Administration has not responded to inquiries about Frey. Nor had the Mills Administration commented publicly on Frey’s disclosure as of Thursday morning.
“He’s volatile right now,” the woman said. “He has called me a c***, told me to die, and lied straight to my face telling me I’m wrong.”
“He has gaslit me for an entire month of March,” she said.
The woman said she’s had dinner with Mills before and is disappointed the governor hasn’t been more outspoken on the subject.
“She knows I was with him for years,” she said. “Shouldn’t she be more pro-woman in this situation?”
This story will be updated if the Attorney General’s Office or the Mills Administration responds to inquiries.
Got a tip? Email the Maine Wire: robinson (at) themainewire.com
UPDATE: Michael Shepherd posted an updated story Thursday morning noting that Deputy Chief Christopher Taub was tasked Tuesday evening with investigating Frey’s relationship. The Mills Administration is also declining to comment to the BDN.
The story concluded with the following:
“Before Frey issued his statement on Tuesday night, both he and his romantic partner sent messages to colleagues disclosing the relationship, according to emails obtained in a public-records request. The written responses from others in the office were positive, though one of them seemed surprised.
“Wow!! He’s a great person,” one employee told the subordinate, referring to Frey. “I wish you both well.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story mistakenly interpreted a message from Frey’s longtime girlfriend as saying she received a call from Sen. Troy Jackson. The call in fact came from Frey after she messaged evidence of their relationship to Jackson. The story has been corrected.