At the end of the day Wednesday, Attorney General William Schneider sent a response to the Emily Cain, Democratic minority leader, declining her request that the Attorney General prepare an opinion regarding the continued authority and eligibility of Darryl Brown to serve as Commissioner of the DEP. The Attorney General stated that because his office was involved in the preparation of the response by Commissioner Brown to the EPA with respect to federal law and that “[a]ny final response to the EPA will be made through this office,” it was not appropriate for the AG’s office to issue a separate opinion.
It’s difficult to ascertain what the Attorney General actually is saying here. If he is saying that the AG’s office will be independently reviewing Commissioner Brown’s response, and particularly the facts as to whether more than 10 percent of Brown’s income over the past two years was derived from work for clients under the Clean Water Act, before it goes to the EPA in order to determine compliance with Maine law, then we applaud him for finally addressing this issue. If, as suggested in yesterday’s article in the Portland Press Herald, he is saying that the Attorney General’s office will be acting as Mr. Brown’s lawyer in responding to the petition filed with the EPA, then we strongly disagree with that course of action. At a minimum, the Attorney General should clarify exactly what role his office will play.
It is our opinion that the proper course for the Attorney General is to conduct a detailed analysis of the facts that Mr. Brown collects and presents concerning his income sources over the last two years. If that review indicates that he has not exceeded the 10 percent threshold, then Mr. Brown should continue with the important work of the DEP. But if the data shows that he crossed that threshold, then Mr. Brown should resign. In either case, a speedy and transparent resolution of this issue is paramount.