A Sun Journal article (Jan. 7) exposed what happened behind closed doors at the State House to deny my leadership’s recommendation for my placement on the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee. I requested that committee because it is important to my district, I have experience on those issues and preserving our working rural landscape was a top priority of my campaign.
The Speaker of the House’s rationale for denying my seat was that legislators who formerly lobbied a committee need a “24-month cooling off period” before serving on that committee. I wouldn’t take issue with the Speaker’s policy, if he applied it fairly. He did not. He failed to apply this policy to members of his party.
Five legislators elected this November, all Democrats, were registered lobbyists in 2006. The Speaker placed three on committees in which their clients had interest. I have not been a registered lobbyist since 2003. The Speaker’s “cooling off” period doesn’t apply to me. Additionally, the Speaker asked the Attorney General whether I had a conflict of interest, and the AG determined I did not.
I take no issue with the assignments of fellow legislators who were lobbyists, because they have valuable expertise. As citizen legislators, we understand our obligation is to our constituents, not former clients.
Many constituents, farmers, and bipartisan legislators are disappointed because I’m not serving on the Agriculture committee. I assure them I will continue to focus on the issues facing rural Maine.
My passion has only grown stronger.
Rep. Abby Holman, Fayette