PORTLAND, ME February 9, 2011 – In response to a request filed by the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) for documents related to Maine Governor Paul LePage’s Regulatory “Reform” Proposals, the LePage Administration has stated that it would not provide any documents generated during the transition period for the new Administration, but only those documents generated after the January 5 inauguration. The announcement is in direct conflict with Maine’s Freedom of Access Act and the Administration’s prior claim that it would be the most transparent administration in Maine’s history.
CLF filed the request on January 28 for documents related to the Administration’s so-called Regulatory “Reform” Proposals as well as the “red tape” meetings organized by the Administration and business interest groups and the nomination of Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Darryl Brown.
“The Administration’s position is not only counter to its professed goals of transparency and putting people before politics but is legally unsupportable under the clear language of Maine’s Freedom of Access Act and as interpreted by the courts,” said CLF Senior Attorney Greg Cunningham.
CLF seeks access to the documents to determine the source of the proposals which the LePage Administration claims are based on comments received during the “red tape” meetings held in December 2010 and January 2011. The proposals were released by the LePage Administration two weeks ago on the eve of Mr. Brown’s confirmation hearing before the Legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee. Mr. Brown testified that he had not been consulted on the document and that he had only briefly reviewed it before his hearing.
“If they didn’t consult with Mr. Brown on these proposals, the vast majority of which are directed at the department he was to lead, then who did they consult with?” asked Sean Mahoney, director of CLF Maine. “It appears to us, by the nature of many of these proposals and the document itself, that many of the proposals represent the wish list not from Maine residents or businesses, but out-of-state corporations and trade organizations.”
If the Administration does not change its position and release all documents in its possession responsive to CLF’s request, CLF will pursue its remedies in court. “The Freedom of Access Act is a cornerstone principle of an open and transparent government that is accountable to the people of Maine,” said Cunningham. “We hope that the Administration reconsiders its position, opts for full disclosure and avoids the delay and cost of litigation—costs that the Administration will bear if we have to go that route.”
The Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) protects New England’s environment for the benefit of all people. Using the law, science and the market, CLF creates solutions that preserve natural resources, build healthy communities, and sustain a vibrant economy region-wide. Founded in1966, CLF is a nonprofit, member-supported organization with offices in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.