AUGUSTA — In accepting an award Wednesday, a former state worker who claims she was assaulted and harassed for refusing to destroy controversial documents assailed bureaucrats who she said were corrupted by power and authority.

“There is more to my story than document-shredding,” said Sharon Leahy-Lind, former director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Local Public Health.

What the public didn’t know about her tenure at the state agency was that “a very high-level bureaucrat, with authority over substantial amounts of money and numerous state employees, said to me, ‘Sharon, do you know how much power I have? I can do anything I want.’”

Leahy-Lind said: “Power corrupts — and it covers up. And the antidote to power stonewalling transparency is a vigorous, investigatory press.”

She was given the 2014 Sunshine Award on Wednesday. The award was bestowed by the Maine Freedom of Information Coalition at the visitor center at the State House.

Leahy-Lind filed a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission last year claiming, among other things, that her bosses at the Maine CDC ordered her to destroy documents that showed the scoring results for the 27 Healthy Maine Partnerships at the center of a controversy over hundreds of thousands of dollars in state funding. She said the scoring was manipulated to favor certain organizations over others.

She filed a lawsuit last fall in U.S. District Court, alleging the director of Maine’s CDC and others in the Maine Department of Health and Human Services violated the Whistleblower Protection Act by retaliating against her when she refused to destroy documents connected to the funding of the Healthy Maine Partnerships program.

The suit also alleges defamation and violations of state and federal medical leave acts, the Maine Human Rights Acts, the Federal Civil Rights Act, the Freedom of Information Act and the First Amendment.

Suzanne Goucher, president Maine Freedom of Information Coalition, said Wednesday: “If nothing else, this episode should serve as a reminder to public officials high and low that government belongs to the people, and that, whether confidential or not, public records belong to the public. Transparency is our only safeguard against tyranny.”

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