Open Letter Pen Pals: A Word from the Governor of Maine

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Remember that fuss we were making over our Open Letter to Governors and the lack of support for state level transparency? Well, Maine’s Governor Paul LePage just wrote to point us straight:

Maine Governor LePage response to Sunlight’s open letter

For the record, I do not have nor ever had a business advisory committee. Some of you folks read too many blogs.

He’s right. We do read too many blogs…but Governor LePage would do well to follow us on Google Reader. Then he might learn about the Executive Order he issued on March 3, 2011 “Establishing the Governor’s Business Advisory Council,” which Rebekah Metzler breaks down nicely in her piece in the Portland Press Herald.

Or this thorough post from Maine State Representative Sharon Treat on her blog, From the North, which notes that, after Democrats and Republicans and members of the media attacked his plan, LePage backed off from establishing said business advisory council.

So, you see, Governor LePage “[does] not have nor ever had a business advisory council” because the people wouldn’t let him make this or any commission — sorry, council — that would be exempt from the state’s Freedom of Access law. LePage claimed that he needed this exemption to account for “candid conversations” with people who aren’t public workers:

“There’s no secrecy here,” LePage said. “If they want to do it on the steps of the Blaine House, I’m fine with it too. But some of these people want to be frank and honest and open and they don’t want to be exposed to the same scrutiny and exposure that we see every day.”

Treat’s blog has a great breakdown of just why these councils do need to be exposed to the same scrutiny and exposure we see every day (hint: it involves lobbyists!) and Mike Tipping of the Morning Herald highlights some “candid” feelings LePage shared about the Freedom of Access Law right around the time he was pushing for the creation of his advisory councils.

When we wrote our Open Letter in March, Governor LePage’s advisory council was still on the table. The Executive Order for its creation has since been put on hold — but not rescinded. Perhaps the Governor could review the text of his EO and get back to us…Or, you can help remind him. Click here to check out our Open Letter and have a candid chat with Governor LePage.

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