AUGUSTA – Republican Gov. Paul LePage wants his successor, Democrat Janet Mills, to continue pursuing a lawsuit he filed against her alleging she abused her authority as the state’s attorney general when she joined a federal lawsuit targeting the Trump administration in 2017.

Attorney General Janet Mills and Gov. Paul LePage have long clashed over legal issues.

LePage’s office said Tuesday that he has filed a motion with the Maine Supreme Judicial Court to extend the deadline in his appeal of the lawsuit against Mills, who is still attorney general. If the motion is granted, it will keep the lawsuit alive after Mills is sworn in.

Mills joined California and other states in September 2017 in a legal challenge to the Trump administration’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. She was among at least 20 attorneys general nationwide to challenge the decision in two lawsuits.

LePage then filed his own lawsuit in October 2017, arguing that Mills had acted without getting required permission from the Maine Legislature or the governor’s office. Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy issued an order in October in Mills’ favor. LePage then appealed to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

Mills has indicated that she will drop LePage’s appeal when she takes office, but the governor wants the case decided by the court.

“These appeals raise important legal questions, which are not personal to us as individuals, but rather relate to the respective offices of Governor and Attorney General under the Maine Constitution,” LePage said in a prepared statement. “The appeals should not be mooted by reason of the change in the office holders. The public interest would be served by her agreeing to have these cases continue to a decision by the Law Court by substituting the parties with the new office holders.”

A spokeswoman for Mills in the Attorney General’s Office declined comment Tuesday.

“Governor-elect Mills is focused on assembling her Cabinet and moving Maine forward, not on engaging in further debate with the outgoing governor,” said Scott Ogden, who will be her communications director as governor.

In a Dec. 11 letter to LePage’s attorney, Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Bolton suggested that the parties ask the court to suspend its schedule for submitting written arguments while LePage remains in office “in order to avoid any further expenditure of taxpayer dollars on this litigation.”

But LePage rejected that proposal.

“This is an opportunity to clarify the law and establish boundaries,” LePage said in a prepared statement. “If a time comes during (Mills’) administration where there is again divided government, she may regret not having pursued this lawsuit.”

LePage and Mills have long clashed over legal issues, including immigration, Medicaid expansion and the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.

Scott Thistle can be contacted at 791-6330 or at:

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