AUGUSTA — A failed federal lawsuit and subsequent appeal by the administration of Republican Gov. Paul LePage that was turned down by the U.S. Supreme Court has cost Maine taxpayers $108,000 in legal fees paid to a law firm outside state government.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services released the legal costs paid to the Portland-based Roach, Hewitt, Ruprecht, Sanchez & Bischoff after a records request from the Sun Journal.

The LePage administration and DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew retained nongovernmental lawyers and pursued the case after Maine Attorney General Janet Mills declined to represent the state in the matter but permitted LePage to hire outside lawyers.

The case stemmed from the administration’s efforts to remove about 6,000 people — 19- and 20-year-old single adults — from MaineCare, the state’s Medicaid program. It was litigated in 2014 and early 2015.

An earlier report from The Associated Press detailed the costs of the case at about $53,000 in January, but the latest invoices made available Wednesday show the total expense to the state was closer to double that amount.

Mayhew defended the expense in January, saying the administration pursued the case because it believes the tax dollars spent to cover the young adults should instead go to help the elderly and disabled.


Maine shouldn’t be “stuck with a program subject to the whims of Washington, D.C,” she said in a statement.

State officials estimated that cutting coverage for the 19- and 20-year-olds would save the state nearly $4 million a year.

Mayhew criticized Mills for actively opposing “her own state,” which she said drove up the administration’s legal bills by thousands of dollars.

Mills, a Democrat, dismissed that idea and said none of the actions her office took increased the administration’s fees or involvement in the case.

“The unanimous decision by the three-judge panel of the 1st Circuit was correct and there was no reason for the U.S. Supreme Court to take this case,” Mills said in a statement in June. “I respect the earnestness with which the governor sought to advance his argument, but I have felt all along that it lacked legal merit. As an independent constitutional officer, I take seriously my duty to offer unvarnished legal advice and to uphold the rule of law, and I will continue to do so.”

Mills declined additional comment Wednesday, but state Sen. Linda Valentino, D-Saco, said LePage “held true to form and decided to go it alone, despite being told by the state’s highest attorney that his case was without merit — a view shared by the U.S. Supreme Court.”


Valentino serves on the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee and is a former chairwoman of the Judiciary Committee.

Valentino said LePage’s approach cost the state “completely unnecessary legal fees” and urged him to listen to Mills’ advice going forward.

Adrienne Bennett, a spokeswoman for LePage, said the governor’s office was essentially forced to seek private lawyers to represent the state when Mills refused to do so.

Bennett said LePage prevailed in a subsequent case that Mills also refused to represent involving the state’s ability to set rules for locally administered General Assistance welfare programs and immigrants, saving state taxpayers more than $1 million.

In that case, the administration paid the same legal firm — Roach, Hewitt, Ruprecht, Sanchez & Bischoff — about $100,000 in fees, Bennett said.

“So if we were to accept the blind guidance from the attorney general all the time, then we would be losing even more taxpayer money,” Bennett said. 

David Sorensen, a spokesman for Mayhew, said the commissioner and governor felt strongly that Maine had been treated unfairly by the federal government.

“The state should fight for its right to manage its welfare eligibility and spending, which for too long had been an overwhelming burden on Maine taxpayers,” Sorensen said.

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