An independent report released Friday afternoon regarding Maine Attorney General (AG) Aaron Frey’s relationship with a subordinate employee found no significant issues with how the AG office handled the situation.
The report came from Deborah Whitworth of HR Studio Group, the third-party human resources consulting group hired in April to investigate Frey’s relationship, which at the time Frey called an “error in judgment”—an error he did not disclose for eight months.
Whitworth’s report states that the original OAG investigation found “no wrongdoing” due to the subordinate no longer reporting directly to Frey and the fact that it was a consensual relationship, which is omitted in the office’s harassment policy.
An investigation by the Bangor Daily News found that Frey made this change only after reporters from the newspaper began inquiring about the relationship.
Whitworth and HR Studio group were brought in at the request of Democratic leaders in the Legislature to conduct an independent review of the AGO’s investigation.
However, Whitworth found that no formal written report from Chief Deputy AG Chris Taub’s internal investigation was available.
Whitworth explains in her report that the absence of a report on the internal investigation was “not only understandable, but justified, as there was simply no need for a formal investigation to take place based on the third-party complaint.”
Whitworth praised the OAG for their cooperation, candor and sense of urgency in providing her with information.
Her report concludes after a long series of interviews with OAG employees that the office is a “great place to work, replete with a work environment that is generally very positive.”
“I believe AG Frey described the recent events best when he admonished himself as having made an ‘error in judgment’,” Whitworth said.
“What we have, I believe, is an opportunity to strengthen a policy and awareness while continuing to focus on the important work of the office rather than on a personal, consensual relationship that has found its way into the public eye for reasons only known by a disgruntled family,” she said.
See the full independent review of the AG Office’s Investigation below: