State paid $30,000 to park manager who said McGowan wanted her out

Marilyn Tourtelotte worked for the Department of Conservation as a park manager for more than 15 years. She had also been a game warden for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and served as co-chairman of the Land Use Regulation Commission.

Democratic Convention
Joel Page/The Associated Press

Patrick McGowan at the 2010 Maine Democratic Party Convention in Lewiston.

She was named manager of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, a position in the Department of Conservation, in 1999. The position came with a requirement to live in the waterway, and Tourtelotte was assigned a year-round residence.

In a sworn statement Tourtelotte filed with the Maine Human Rights Commission, she said that on Jan. 31, 2006, Commissioner of Conservation Pat McGowan’s secretary emailed her “inquiring how she could reserve my assigned residence of use by the Commissioner and his guests.” Tourtelotte’s supervisor said that wasn’t allowed because the residence was her home.

Tourtelotte’s statement describes how, in a subsequent phone call, McGowan’s secretary repeated McGowan’s demand that he be allowed to use Tourtelotte’s residence. When she refused, the secretary said, “He wants you to move out.”

That same day, Tourtelotte wrote, “the Commissioner telephoned my supervisor, (name redacted), and told him that I should be ‘cooking for them’ and showing ‘north woods hospitality’ by allowing his party to use my residence.” McGowan also called her supervisor later that day, and both Tourtelotte and her supervisor talked with him.

“When I mentioned that he and his party could not use my residence, he said ‘we’ll see about that,'” Tourtelotte wrote.

Tourtelotte wrote that her supervisor later told her “the Commissioner had a ‘target on my back’ and that word came down from the top that he was told to do whatever was necessary to get rid of me. “

Subsequently, the department began an investigation into Tourtelotte based on an “outside complaint.” That investigation, covering a seven-year period, ended with a two-week suspension, which she served.

Tourtelotte then filed a complaint with the Commission in July, 2007, alleging sex discrimination and whistleblower retaliation.

“I believe my suspension ... occurred as a result of unlawful sex discrimination because I am a woman, because I am the only female Park Manager with assigned housing and because I would not give up my residence so that it could be used by the Commissioner and his friends. No male Park Manager has ever been asked to give up his residence for such a purpose.”

McGowan, in an interview, said Tourtelotte “was never asked to move out and make accommodations for me.”

“We were doing a film on the 40th anniversary of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, and I asked if the film crew could stay in the cabin near the Churchill residence. It was not her residence; it’s an outbuilding,” McGowan said. “It’s not an issue, her statement was so ridiculous.”

McGowan claimed that Tourtelotte recanted her statements about being asked to move out and cook for him and his friends.

“No, I did not take them back,” Tourtelotte said in a recent interview.

McGowan said that the investigation of Tourtelotte was justified by facts, not retaliation:

“Her personnel actions were brought about by complaints by people who were under her supervision,” McGowan said. “There were some very serious violations alleged by her employees.”

“The investigation was thrown out,” said Tourtelotte, who added that any record of it was “supposed to be destroyed.”

“There is potential for a lawsuit if anybody talks about that investigation,” Tourtelotte said. “I proved that what was in it was false information.”

The department settledwith Tourtelotte in July 2008 for $30,000 and provided her a comparably paid job in the Land Use Regulation Commission. The settlement, signed by McGowan, features a non-disclosure clause and includes the following phrase:

“It is further understood and agreed that this settlement is a compromise of disputed claims and that this Release and Settlement Agreement is not to be construed as an admission of any kind by any party or an admission of liability on the part of the Releasees, by whom liability is expressly denied.”

McGowan announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for governor in January 2010.

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Comments

David Russell's picture

Disgusting man

I think McGowan is a disgusting person for doing such a thing. We all know that those in power always hold the evidence that will be considered as truth or, at least, deniable. We, the little people, are at a strong disadvantage. It's the suit. I sincerely admire Tourtelotte for standing tall and exposing this morally corrupt man. I only wish she had spit in his eye, as he so deserves.

I, for one, will remember this incident, assume there are other incidents, also, and be sure to cast my vote against him in any post for which he runs. He does not deserve any government post as he has no respect for the people he serves. Therefore, he is not able to represent them in their interests.

Thank you, Mrs Tourtelotte.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

This is why.....

This is why people hate politicians. Democrat or Republican, when people try throwing their political weight around, It's a black eye for the whole system. Unfortunately, it's this type of person who is attracted to politics. We need to stop letting their position in government, blind us to their lying behavior. Fire these idiots.....

 's picture

good job democrats, treating

good job democrats, treating the working people like serfs. typical sleazy behavior. I'm suprised there wasn't a "Do you know who I am?" thrown in there somewhere.

not a democrat thing

Not a republican thing. It's a power thing. "I'm in charge and you are all my little people and you must do what I want or I will make your life miserable." When I worked for Dept of Conservation in Virginia in the 90s we had a director a lot like this. He once stopped an entire convoy of Park managers going to a meeting so he could shoot a couple of wild pigs with his personal handgun. The official report of the incident didn't match what he was bragging about it the next day because he was an influential political donor. And he was a Republican. So no, it's not a political thing. It's a being a complete jerk in power thing.

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