In an ongoing battle between the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) and the Administration of Governor Paul LePage over the release of public documents related to his regulatory reform proposals and “red tape audits,” the LePage Administration Thursday relented and agreed with CLF’s legal conclusion that Maine’s Freedom of Access Act (FOAA) requires the Governor’s office to disclose documents related to the development of his regulatory agenda and staffing that were generated during his post-election transition.
Naturally, I am pleased that the Governor’s office has agreed to comply with the law that allows citizens access to their government’s records; however, I remain concerned that the Administration’s first reaction was to fight disclosure, and that even this agreement to adhere to the law comes with strings attached.
The Governor’s Office takes the position that “the Transition Team was under no obligation to preserve such documents” and says that it will not turn over documents in the possession of Transition Team members. So what shade of transparency is this? Well, I construe this statement to mean that documents that formed the basis for the Governor’s sweeping regulatory reform proposal were either destroyed or are in the possession of the Transition Team, and though those documents are accessible to the Governor’s Office, they will be withheld from the public.
That’s right, it seems that when Governor LePage declared the “most transparent transition in Maine history,” he forgot to mention that he wasn’t beyond secreting policy documents using legal technicalities. So why doesn’t the Governor want the people of Maine to know who was really behind this effort to reverse Maine’s progress in protecting natural resources that are vital to our economy and our way of life? Is it possible that we might learn that it was lobbyists, out-of-state corporations and some of those special interests by which the Governor claims he cannot be taken hostage?
To borrow your words, Governor–“the Maine people deserve to know.”