AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage announced Tuesday that he has temporarily withdrawn his nomination of William Beardsley for education commissioner, citing opposition that is growing on the Legislature’s Education Committee.

Beardsley has come under fire in the past for his involvement in a Bangor-area controversy around the late Rev. Robert Carlson and for his views on transgender issues.

“I am temporarily withdrawing Dr. Beardsley’s nomination because Democrats on the Joint Standing Committee on Education are planning to unanimously oppose him solely for partisan political games, without regard to his impeccable qualifications,” said LePage in a news release. “Let me be perfectly clear: I have enormous respect for Dr. Beardsley and I have full confidence in his qualifications.”

Beardsley has already been interviewed by the Maine Board of Education, which voted unanimously in favor of his nomination. The board sent its recommendation letter to LePage’s office, which has refused to make the letter public because they said it involves a personnel issue.

All of the Democrats on the Education Committee and in the Senate voted against Beardsley in 2012, when LePage nominated him to the Maine Board of Education. Beardsley’s nomination was successful anyway. Republicans still have a majority in the Senate, but a negative recommendation from the committee — where Democrats hold a one-person majority — would complicate Beardsley’s nomination process.

Several Democrats approached by the Bangor Daily News last week about Beardsley declined to comment and Rep. Victoria Kornfield, D-Bangor, who co-chairs the Legislature’s Education Committee, declined comment when approached by a reporter on Tuesday.

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Carlson died by suicide in 2012 after police began investigating an allegation that he sexually abused a boy in the 1970s. A police report said Beardsley, then president of Husson College, learned about the allegations in 2005, but he denied knowledge of wrongdoing.

LePage’s release said the governor would renominate Beardsley “once Democrats put aside their childish and immature political games.”

The conflict centers on LePage’s recent blocking of rules recommended by the Maine Human Rights Commission related to how transgender students should be treated in Maine’s public schools. LePage has said he is waiting for the Legislature to act on the issue.

Beardsley, the former president of Husson University, made comments when he was running for governor that some Democrats interpreted to be at odds with transgender rights.

Bangor Daily News writer Michael Shepherd contributed to this report.


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