Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Maine governor's handwritten notes to lawmakers not public records, staff says; others disagree

A note Gov. Paul LePage sent to
Democratic state Sen. John Patrick
An argument is brewing in Maine over whether handwritten notes Republican Gov. Paul LePage frequently writes to lawmakers are subject to open records laws, Scott Thistle reports for the Portland Press Herald. "Staff members argue the notes are personal and not public documents that must be saved and accessible to the public. But others, including the state’s archivist and attorney general, say documents created by the governor that discuss state policy or business are public records, whether handwritten or not."

Republican state Senate President Mike Thibodeau made public this note he received from LePage in June 2015: “It is apparent that the Republicans in the Senate and House have not only thrown the governor under the bus, but now want to take his executive powers. Therefore, beginning today and for the remainder of my term, all bills will be vetoed requiring a 2/3rds vote in both houses."

LePage, "who promised voters in 2010 that his would be the 'most transparent' administration in state history, now has a long record of evading, avoiding or simply ignoring the state’s open records law," Thistle writes. Brenda Kielty, the state’s Freedom of Access Act ombudsman, told Thistle, “Any government record, regardless of the form in which it is in maintained by an agency or official, can be a public record.” (Read more)

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