LePage defies Maine AG on releasing report; tells AG: 'Sue me'

Sun Journal file photo

Gov. Paul LePage

AUGUSTA — In a letter to Republican Gov. Paul LePage, the state's top law enforcement officer demanded he follow the law and release copies of a publicly funded study of the state's welfare system.

Candidates for Maine governor's office say LePage should release report

AUGUSTA — The two top candidates seeking to replace Republican Gov. Paul LePage expressed dismay and concern Wednesday over LePage's refusal to release a study on Maine's welfare programs that is being paid for with taxpayer dollars.

Democratic candidate Mike Michaud said LePage's refusal to follow the advice of Maine Attorney General Janet Mills would serve to only deepen the mistrust citizens have in government.

"We need to restore the voters' faith and trust in government again and the only way to do that is to ensure it's open, transparent and accountable to the people," said Michaud, Maine's 2nd District representative to the U.S. House. "The taxpayers of Maine have funded this report. He should release it." 

A spokeswoman for independent candidate Eliot Cutler said the LePage administration essentially botched the entire process.

"There is a right way to handle contracts and a wrong way," said Crystal Canney. "This contract should have gone through a competitive bidding process. The governor should make the report public, as the taxpayers are paying for it — or stop spending our money for partisan political purposes."

sthistle@sunjournal.com

Maine Attorney General Janet Mills on Wednesday sent LePage a terse letter regarding the administration's refusal to release copies of the document.

But, during a news conference Wednesday afternoon, when LePage was asked about Mills' letter, he instructed the press to "tell her to sue me."

The Attorney General's Office declined to comment in response.

The $925,200 no-bid contract authorized by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services contains specific language that the administration must release any copies of the so-called Alexander report it has, under Maine's Freedom of Access Act.

DHHS officials and communications staff in LePage's office have said the administration is withholding parts of the report delivered to the state on Dec. 16 to review and analyze them. The administration says it wants to read and understand what it calls a "complex" report before being questioned about its contents.

Mills' letter is clear that the administration's reason for withholding the report is not authorized under Maine law.

In an interview with a group of State House reporters Wednesday, LePage was defiant. He told reporters they'd see the report when he was ready.

"It's right here," he said, picking up a stack of papers from his desk. "I'm reading it. And when I'm done, you'll get it. I have not completed reading it, but I am reading it and will be done shortly."

The Sun Journal was excluded from that news conference. 

The Rhode Island-based Alexander Group was contracted to examine Maine's welfare system, including the possible impact of Medicaid expansion, and was directed to issue the first part of its review — a Medicaid expansion feasibility study — on Dec. 1. It was delivered Dec. 16.

In her letter, which was also sent to DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew, Mills noted that 22 days have passed since the report — which its contract defines as a public record — has been delivered. And, "while public statements indicate that the delay is due to your need to review, analyze and finalize the report, such a rationale for delay does not exist in statute," she wrote.

Mills further noted that "reliance on such troublesome criteria could result in a court finding that you have acted in bad faith in resisting disclosure, with the attendant legal consequences of such a finding.

"As chief law enforcement officer for the State of Maine and chief adviser on Freedom of Access issues, I must insist you release this report to all who request it immediately," Mills wrote.

On Nov. 29, the Sun Journal filed an advance FOAA request seeking access to the Alexander Report that was due to be filed with the state on Dec. 1. DHHS denied access to the report on Dec. 2, saying it would have to review the report internally before releasing it publicly.

On Dec. 9, DHHS reiterated its denial and denied the Sun Journal’s request again on Dec. 20.

The Sun Journal, which had been told the report would be made available Jan. 6, reiterated its FOAA request for the report Wednesday afternoon. 

Information in the report is likely to form some basis for the governor's position on a proposal before the Legislature to expand MaineCare, the state's insurance program for low-income and disabled people. The governor strongly opposes an expansion.

According to LePage's early read of the report, the governor said the document shows MaineCare expansion would be too heavy a cost for Maine to bear.

Expansion, a key provision of President Barack Obama’s landmark health care reform law, would provide taxpayer-funded health care to 70,000 additional Mainers. It would be paid for in large part by the federal government, and is a top priority for Democrats this year. The effort was defeated by gubernatorial veto in 2013.

“Everything in there is going to vindicate my position on not expanding,” LePage said. “It clearly tells us that it's going to cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade.”

In response to repeated requests for access to the report, the Sun Journal and other media have been told to file civil lawsuits for FOAA access and that the administration will release the records before any case can be adjudicated.

On Tuesday, Suzanne Goucher, president of the Maine Freedom of Information Coalition and a member of the Legislature's Right to Know Advisory Committee, said LePage is flouting Maine's public-access law by withholding the report.

"This is a report that was paid for with a lot of public money and one that should have been released to the press as soon as it got into the hands of state government," she said. "Clearly, this goes against a promise by Gov. LePage that he made when he first came into office that his would be the most transparent administration in state history."

Gary Alexander, whose consulting firm was contracted to study Maine's welfare system, is a former public welfare chief in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. In 2010, he turned down the position of DHHS commissioner in Maine because it didn't pay enough.

Democrats in Maine and Pennsylvania have criticized Alexander for his track record in Pennsylvania, where thousands were cut from welfare rolls under his tenure. In Maine, democratic lawmakers have accused LePage of "cronyism" in hiring the Alexander Group.

LePage has repeatedly defended the contract, calling the Alexander Group the best welfare-consulting firm in the country, pointing to Alexander's work in Rhode Island, where he won a global Medicaid waiver from the federal government, giving that state unique flexibility in administering its publicly funded health coverage.

And, he said, while Democrats might not like that Alexander is a hand-picked consultant, "I'll tell you this: Whenever you hire a consultant, you have your choice of who to pick.”

Both Democratic and Republican state lawmakers said Wednesday they were "disappointed" LePage would not release the documents as required by state law.

Sen. Tom Saviello, R-Wilton, said he understood that if the document is still in draft form,  the governor may want to review it first. But Saviello also acknowledged that state law does not allow LePage to withhold the document for that reason.

"He should just follow the law and release the report," Saviello said. "Just release the report. I asked yesterday in our own caucus when we were going to have the report, and we were told only that it was coming."

Other Republicans, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear the governor would retaliate, said LePage should want to put the report in the hands of the public, especially if he believes it will vindicate his position on MaineCare expansion.

Democrats were more strident in their criticism and noted they had concerns about the funding sources, including some federal funding for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, that was used to pay for the document.

"This is using public taxpayer dollars, TANF block grant and MaineCare general funds and that they think they shouldn't have to give that report to the public, the taxpayers of Maine, is just beyond anything I can articulate at all," said state Sen. Margaret Craven, D-Lewiston. "He's told so many lies by now you can't even trust him when he says anything, anyways."

State Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland, called on LePage to follow the same laws all Mainers are required to follow.

"The law is the law and he should follow it just like any other Maine citizen," Alfond said.

LePage's press secretary, Adrienne Bennett, said the governor was not breaking the law and intended to release the document to the public "after he's finished reading it."

She accused Democrats of politicizing the report.

"Let's end the attacks, allow the report to be studied, results released, and then we can discuss the merits of what can be done to make Maine services better and reduce costs for taxpayers,"  Bennett said.

sthistle@sunjournal.com

Mario Moretto of the Bangor Daily News contributed to this report.

Our View: LePage won't let public see costly report

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Comments

AL PELLETIER's picture

How about this scenario

The .2 of the 1% of EBT card abusers tell Lepage, "we'll stop abusing our welfare assistance when we're good and ready", so sue us!
Lapage has broken the law as surely as an EBT card abuser has and it's time he stops with the smoke and mirrors and step down or face prosecution.

CRYSTAL WARD's picture

who needs to follow the Law ???!!

Governor LePage, Has decided he is above the law of the State of Maine.
The "Rule of Law" does not apply to him only to the rest of us. There is not one word in the law about having time to read, review etc. -- the Taxpayer footed the outrageous bill for this no bid contract and the report is owed by us. The Governors big transparency announcement was for everyone but him.
Is there any reason for the rest of us to follow laws when this example is set by the Governor .

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

How Did Mild-Mannered Maine Get America’s Craziest Governor? Re

What better way to start a governorship than to refuse to attend a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day breakfast and, when the NAACP complains, tell them, on camera, to “kiss my butt”?
Or...
State Sen. Troy Jackson called one of LePage's veto threats a "stunt." LePage didn't take kindly to that, saying Jackson "claims to be for the people, but he’s the first one to give it to the people without providing Vaseline,"
_______________
It is crystal clear without a doubt that LePage has a fetish and very familiar with butts, being that is one large butt-head himself...

How a man who can make even the most hot-headed conservative talk radio hosts seem reasonable won the governor’s mansion in our quiet, level-headed state goes back to another unusual facet of Maine politics: our tradition of strong third-party candidates, who can split the vote and increase the risk of the election of a candidate whose polices or personality lack wide support.
Republicans are the smallest of Maine’s electoral blocks (28 percent of registered voters) after independents (37 percent) and Democrats (32 percent). But LePage had the luxury in 2010 of running against not just one independent but three. He won the election with 38 percent of the vote and a 1.7 percentage point margin over independent Eliot Cutler.
______________________________________________

The whole egg has now been cracked and the man behind the curtain is none other than a diabolical manic that wants to be a czar....but the people now can see what he really is, nothing but a menace and a total embarrassment to Maine.

Does this look like a man that is playing with a full deck? I think not!


____________________

Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/01/paul-lepage-maine-governo...

FRANK EARLEY's picture

I think that looking at..............

I think that looking at the overall picture here, this whole scenario is coming into focus.
I think Paul LePage decided to take a chance. He took a chance and spent $945,000.00 of the taxpayers money, without due process. He hand picked a firm who would come to the same exact findings he's looking for. He spent nearly a million dollars just so he could be assured of the outcome. The reason this expenditure never was handled through the proper channels, is because he knew that no one would allow this waste of taxpayer money at a time so many taxpayers are hurting financially. The real maddening part of all this is he is doing all this just to hurt the taxpayers even more. He is intentionally dashing any hope of thousands of residents to acquire life saving health insurance. Doing so with money that each and every one of those individuals helped pay in the form of taxes.
If this isn't a clear example of a man who is clearly out of control, willing to break the law just to boost his agenda, and cheat the citizens out of their hard earned money. I don't know what is. He has ridiculed the Attorney General in a very bold manner, and thumbed his nose at the law.
This is the man who is making all the decisions regarding all of our livelihoods. We can't take a chance on what he's going to steel next. He has shown that all he needs is a thought, and he goes with it. This is a very dangerous way to run anything. It's time we think about our future well being, and find a way to recall this guy before it's to late.......................................

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

He is the perfect model and this is going

to be LePage's (and his nepotistic families) nightmare and his Waterloo...stubbornness is a trait of poor management, leadership with his steadfast adherence to his opinion, purpose and taking a poor course of action in spite of reason, arguments, or persuasion.

This type of “disobedience” is his form of being a real bad Gov. much like being a half incompetent Gov. like the quitter Palin.

KATHY WILLIAMSON's picture

SUE HIM

Now, please!

Wait a minute...

'And, he said, while Democrats might not like that Alexander is a hand-picked consultant, "I'll tell you this: Whenever you hire a consultant, you have your choice of who to pick.”'

Didn't he say just a few weeks ago "I didn't hire him, DHHS did?" SUddenly now it's HIS report and HE picked whoever he wants?

The guy has no fecking clue how to govern. None.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

It is called No Bid...buying favors...

Meaning he can pay off whomever he wants, get what he wants and make it look legal....

I have said this for months....Follow the Money...

I am puzzled that a no-bid

I am puzzled that a no-bid contracts for this much money are legal at the State level. But still which is it? DHHS did it all, or he did?

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

He did it...he is to much a micro manager....

There is no doubt, since Mary would be clueless as to who to hire for a scam job...This tool uses ALEC for all of his ideas and moves and the Alexander Group is an ALEC favorite....

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Lets see, it's the Peoples money, the peoples Public property

Mills pointedly notes that 22 days have passed since the report — which its contract defines as a public record — has been delivered. And, "while public statements indicate that the delay is due to your need to review, analyze and finalize the report, such a rationale for delay does not exist in statute," she wrote.

It appears, he is transparent on one thing, that Pauly is violating, stealing and trespassing on Public property and needs to be arrested....

The real issue is LePage is not a rational person, because he is really a bully by heart....

CAROLYN LIBBEY's picture

I have a lot of respect for

I have a lot of respect for Janet Mills and always have. She will pursue this recent Lepage "slight of hands" to its demise, and, heck, she will probably come across a few more that need taking care of.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

How much more are we..........

How much more are we expected to put up with? He is daring the AG to sue him, I'm encouraging the AG to arrest him. When will it be determined that he has stepped over the line? This guy is literally turning into a "Boss Tweed" right before our eyes.
What gets me is, doesn't he realize what an idiot he has become? It's like he keeps trying to out do himself. By the way, How come we never hear of the "Lieutenant Governor" coming to the rescue? Come to think of it, do we actually have a "Lieutenant Governor"? Who ever would be next in line, would almost have to be a better Governor than LePage................

If Maine had a Lt Gov, he

If Maine had a Lt Gov, he would be worse than useless. In most states it is a useless placeholder position, in with the LtG sits and waits for the Gov to keel over of get himself removed for gross misconduct. In my old home of Va, the Lt Gov isn't even considered a stepping stone to the Governorship. He (she) keeps getting overlooked in favor of the AG.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Glad that works

Since Cuccinelli would of been a huge disaster as a Gov. it is great he failed as an AG and candidate for gov.

Yeah, but Bill Bolling would

Yeah, but Bill Bolling would have beaten that sleazy Terry Mccauliff more easily. He was more of a traditional Virginia moderate Republican like we used to have in the 70s, back when it was hard to tell the difference between Dems and Reps in Va. The Va Democrats should thank Johnnie Williams for making all those illegal "donations" to Kook and McDonnell. Kook was a shoo-in til that scandal tainted him (the complete nutcases who ran for Lt Gov and AG didn't hurt either).

SCOTT THISTLE's picture
staff

Line of succession in Maine

Frank,
To answer your question. Maine does not have a Lt. Gov. The next in the chain of succession here would be the State Senate President. In this case Sen. Justin Alfond, D-Portland.

CAROLYN LIBBEY's picture

In a moment of temporary

In a moment of temporary insanity, I thought our Lieutenant Governor could be Janet Mills. BUT, then the lights came on and I remembered she is much, much better as our AG.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

The third ring

Well here we go. The three ring circus is now begun. Don't nobody tell Lepage what to do. That's for the "little people" and I don't mean dwarfs. He thinks we have lots of spare money lying around to sue him into doing his job? I can only guess there are parts of this report he doesn't like and he is either figuring out the spin or warming up the shredder. If he gets any nuttier he will be lucky to stay out of jail.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Don't sue him

Jail the SOB!

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Third paragraph, below...talk about delusional. LePage

Gov. LePage said he believed people were abusing the right to request documents
under Maine’s Freedom of Access Act for political purposes.

LePage is delusional without any doubt.....

Talk about who is wanting control and being out of reality at the same time...but mostly in his own words" abusing the right" > now if that ain't communism, what is it?

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Pauly has a record.NOT GOOD..read pages 12 to 17

Nepotism

Two of the governor’s family members have been hired for state jobs. In 2011, Gov. LePage
hired his daughter, Lauren LePage, as his special assistant at a salary of $40,455.47 The state
planning office hired Gov. LePage’s brother-in-law, Jody Ledoux, in 2012 at a salary of $68,577 a year.
___________________________________
Lack of Transparency..............IMPEACHMENT/second paragraph says it all...

In 2011, Gov. LePage proposed legislation that would have allowed him to deny the public access to large amounts of information, including working papers, memorandum, and legislative proposals.

He would have been able to withhold such documents until he chose to distribute them or until the adjournment of the legislative session during which the documents had been prepared.

Gov. LePage said he believed people were abusing the right to request documents
under Maine’s Freedom of Access Act for political purposes.
Watchdog groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, Common Cause, and the Maine Press Association opposed the bill, and the legislature overwhelmingly refused to pass it.

Gov. LePage also issued an executive order creating a business advisory council and exempting it from state laws guaranteeing the public the right to attend meetings and request documents.
Past Maine governors created similar groups without exempting them from the state’s public access laws.

Gov. LePage said he wanted to encourage frank discussion and shield members of the council from controversy. The proposal sparked a public backlash, and a spokesman for Gov. LePage said he would put the plan to form the council on hold.

In June 2013, Gov. LePage vetoed a bill that would have required more disclosure of information about donors contributing to gubernatorial transition funds. The governor said the law-questioned the integrity of newly elected governors.

_______READ REPORT________________________________

http://www.citizensforethics.org/worst-governors-in-america/entry/read-t...

KATHY WILLIAMSON's picture

don't forget

One of the children who got a cushy job also lives in the Blaine House at taxpayer expense. She pays no room or board.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Impeachable offense

The State Legislature makes the Laws – not the Governor ... If LePage Violates the State Constitution and State Law, he must be Impeached
_________________________________________________

LePage 2nd on the list of Ringleaders of Governors in the US...

http://www.citizensforethics.org/worst-governors-in-america/entry/read-t...

Augusta is a dangerous place for anyone who gets in the way of Gov. LePage’s ALEC-written agenda.

The first-term governor packed his administration with lobbyists and used his office to promote their environmental-deregulation agenda, and allegedly went so far as to fire a state employee who testified in favor of policies the administration opposed.

Gov. LePage also attempted to gut his state’s open records act, and is under investigation by the federal government for trying to bully employees of the state Department of Labor into deciding more cases in favor of business.

Elected in 2010; running for reelection in 2014
Hired lobbyists who formulated an anti-regulation agenda and engaged in politically motivated firings of state employees; attempted to gut open an records law
Under investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Solicitor General for bullying employees.

$925,000 and counting....

CLAUDETTE THERRIAULT's picture

So we need to demand

So we need to demand impeachment proceedings. I'm in!

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

OH OH, damage control

It appears that Pauly has the gonads in the vise and Mills is going to crank the handle a bit tighter. Good for the AG for doing her jjob and showing how Pauly fails at his.

The report belongs to the People and not the big mouth bully.

$925,000 for a BS report, where are the Repubs/Tbaggers screaming about WASTE? That is money that could of been used responsibly for other issues like the mental hospital of the criminally insane.

Time to vote this guy out and send him back to Florida with his carpet bag and with his nepotistic daughter.
_____________________________________

He is like and acts like Chris Christie, thinking they can do what they want when they want...

Chris Christie's Top Aide Linked To Traffic Jam Payback Against Democratic Mayor.....

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/08/chris-christie-traffic_n_456144...

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