AUGUSTA (AP) – Senate President Beverly Daggett, pressed by minority Republicans, named six appointees Tuesday to a fledgling government oversight panel.

The appointments followed a showdown of sorts on the Senate floor, where Republicans deadlocked with Democrats and thus failed to win approval of an order that would have directed Daggett, D-Augusta, “to fulfill her obligation and duty” by naming panelists.

Once the order failed to pass, Daggett made the appointments anyway.

On the Democratic side, she named herself, Majority Leader Sharon Treat of Farmingdale and Assistant Majority Leader Kenneth Gagnon of Waterville.

The GOP appointees were Sens. David Carpenter of Springvale, Kenneth Lemont of Kittery and Betty Lou Mitchell of Etna.

“In my mind, it’s certainly not balanced the way it should be,” said Senate Minority Leader Paul Davis, R-Sangerville, calling the three Democratic senators who will serve on the oversight panel “the most partisan people in her caucus.”

Tuesday’s dust-up was the latest in a lengthy series of disputes surrounding the start-up of the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability, also known as OPEGA, which was authorized by the Legislature in 2002.

A long-running point of contention has been agency funding.

House Speaker Patrick Colwell, D-Gardiner, announced his six appointees on May 15, 2003, tabbing Democratic Rep. Matthew Dunlap of Old Town to serve as House chairman. Gagnon is to serve as Senate chairman.

“I share the goals of this committee,” Daggett said Tuesday in comments on the Senate floor. “I share the goals of this office.”

For years, the Legislature’s Audit and Program Review Committee periodically reviewed state departments, but the committee was disbanded in 1994.

AP-ES-02-24-04 1633EST



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