Attorney General Aaron Frey admitted Wednesday to having a “personal relationship” with a subordinate employee at the Attorney General’s Office, according to a statement released by his office.
In the statement, Frey characterized his handling of the relationship, including not disclosing the relationship for more than seven months, as an “error in judgement.”
The statement was released to some news media outlets only after a reporter with the Bangor newspaper made inquiries based on tips.
The policy governing relationships between bosses and employees in state government requires disclosure of such relationships.
“Supervisors who become personally involved with a subordinate are required to report the relationship to their supervisors so that a change in reporting structure can be considered,” the policy states. It’s not immediately clear who Frey’s superior would be, since Maine’s Attorneys General are elected by the Legislature.
The other individual has not been identified.
In the statement, as reported Wednesday morning by WGME, Frey said:
“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.”
Frey said his office has now met all legal obligations required of an Attorney General who has a sexual relationship with a subordinate employee.
Gov. Janet Mills has yet to release a statement on the matter.
This is not the first time the sexual proclivities of a male Attorney General have caused a political problem for Mills.
In 2018, when she was running for her first term, Mills joined former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for a big-money fundraising event in New York.
Schneiderman later resigned after he was accused of sexual misconduct and physical abuse by four women.
Relationships like the one Frey has admitted to have come under closer scrutiny since the #MeToo movement of 2017-2018.
Although nothing reported about the relationship so far suggests it was anything other than consensual, liberal feminists have argued in the past that a power imbalance between a boss and a subordinate employee means it’s hard to establish true consent.