The Maine Attorney General’s Office is reviewing an allegation that Maine Center for Disease Control officials ordered the shredding of public funding records, according to the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability.

A spokesman for the AG’s Office would say only that the AG generally conducts a review to determine if there is basis for an investigation. He declined further comment.

Beth Ashcroft, director of OPEGA, told members of the Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee about the review Friday morning. Because the AG’s Office is involved, members decided not to ask OPEGA to look into the allegation that public documents were ordered destroyed at the Centers for Disease Control.

However, committee members took the first step toward ordering an OPEGA investigation into other aspects of the CDC, including allegations that management has harassed and intimidated employees and did not use proper criteria when deciding to allocate millions of dollars for community health organizations last spring. Committee members voted unanimously to place those issues on the list of topics under consideration. Over the coming weeks, the topics on that list will be ranked by members and the committee will decide which ones OPEGA should take on.

OPEGA had already been asked to look into management issues at the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the CDC. The oversight agency now will consider a DHHS and CDC management investigation together.

There are 17 topics under consideration, and more are expected. Members typically give OPEGA three to four topics to work on, Ashcroft said.

Although members voted to put some CDC allegations on the list for consideration, they were not generally eager about it. One member questioned whether a human resources department might be the one to look into the allegations; another member noted that a CDC employee filed a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission, and questioned whether it would be better to wait and see what that commission does.

“I’m a little disappointed, I think, because there wasn’t as much enthusiasm as I expected in bringing it forward,” said Sen. Margaret Craven, D-Lewiston, who said she had heard from a number of current and former CDC employees with allegations similar to those made by Sharon Leahy-Lind, the CDC director who filed the complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission last week.

Craven, is a member of the Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee, and four other lawmakers requested a formal OPEGA investigation into the CDC last week. The other legislators were Reps. Michael Beaulieu, R-Auburn, Richard Farnsworth, D-Portland, Michael McClellan, R-Raymond, and Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston.

One member of the Government Oversight Committee said Friday he wasn’t sure about asking OPEGA to investigate and wanted more background on the CDC allegations.

Craven said she would provide that background to committee members.

Allegations against the CDC arose last week when Leahy-Lind, director of the CDC’s Division of Local Public Health, sent a complaint of discrimination to the Maine Human Rights Commission alleging, among other things, that her bosses ordered her to destroy documents. Those documents showed the scoring results for the 27 Healthy Maine Partnerships organizations at the center of last summer’s controversy over state funding. She said the scoring was manipulated to favor certain organizations over others.

Through her lawyer, Leahy-Lind has said the official scoring results posted on the Maine CDC’s website differ from the scoring results she was told to shred.

Those scores determined which organizations got hundreds of thousands of dollars each in state funding.

Craven is on the board of Healthy Androscoggin, one of the Healthy Maine Partnership organizations that lost a substantial amount of funding.

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