Radio Address: Miramant says lawmakers must act to preserve public trust

Posted: October 16, 2015 | Senator Miramant, Weekly Radio Address
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Every elected official is sent to Augusta with your trust that we’ll do the people’s work. When that trust is jeopardized, we must act swiftly to restore your faith in your government.

Hi, this is Senator Dave Miramant, from Camden.

On Thursday, a bipartisan majority of the Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee voted to issue subpoenas to two of Gov. Paul LePage’s senior staffers. These two individuals have intimate knowledge about the governor’s efforts to have Speaker Mark Eves, one of his political rivals, fired from his new job as president of Good Will-Hinckley.

The state’s watchdog agency found that LePage threatened Good Will-Hinckley’s funding if Eves wasn’t fired. He even went so far as to withhold a previously approved payment to the nonprofit organization. The board’s chair told the committee on Thursday that the governor’s threat imperiled the school’s very existence.

The outcry after Speaker Eves was fired was palpable. My constituents and many others were outraged that Gov. LePage would use public resources to threaten a distinguished organization like Good Will-Hinckley. They demanded the Legislature investigate, to determine whether the governor had broken the law.

However, the governor’s chief legal counsel, Cynthia Montgomery, and one of his senior policy advisers, Aaron Chadbourne, have refused to cooperate with that investigation.

The Legislature cannot allow itself to be stonewalled by the executive branch of government. Nobody in Augusta is above the law, not even the governor and his staff.

The governor has admitted to threatening the school’s future because he didn’t approve of its hiring. His meddling crossed a line. The use of the chief executive’s power to intimidate and threaten a private organization over its right to choose its own leader is a precedent that cannot be allowed.

Speaker Eves has already lost his job because of the governor’s abuse of power. But what’s even more disturbing is the cloud of fear and intimidation LePage has created. All organizations that receive state funding will live under that cloud until we do something to force the governor to respect the limits of his office.

We’ve heard you loud and clear. You elected a governor, not a dictator. Maine people want LePage to respect the checks and balances that are so integral to our Constitution.

The Government Oversight Committee’s investigation will continue. Plus, the Legislature will soon consider several bills aimed at curbing LePage’s excessive interpretation of his executive powers.

As lawmakers, we must take these proposals seriously, and take every responsible action to maintain the integrity of government and restore the public’s trust.

I’m Senator Dave Miramant. Thanks for listening.