AUGUSTA — A legislative committee decided Friday that only the committee chairs and minority leaders will be allowed to question the current and former Maine Center for Disease Control employees who have been subpoenaed to appear before it to answer questions in a document-shredding probe.

Other members of the Government Oversight Committee will pass questions through those four leaders.

The GOC is the only legislative committee that can subpoena witnesses to appear before it. It has exercised that right once before: during its 2011 investigation of questionable spending at the Maine Turnpike Authority.

A report by the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability on spending at the Turnpike Authority and the GOC’s questions ultimately helped lead to the arrest of turnpike director Paul Violette. The following year, Violette was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for stealing tens of thousands of dollars from the Turnpike Authority.

Five Maine CDC officials are expected to appear before the committee March 14. The former official who first raised allegations of document-shredding is also expected to appear. 

OPEGA Director Beth Ashcroft told the committee that the six have received their subpoenas. If they refuse to appear, the committee can ask the Superior Court to compel them to obey.

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