PORTLAND, Maine — Maine’s Republican governor said Thursday that misuse of public access law is costing the state “thousands of dollars” and is designed to disrupt his administration.
Gov. Paul LePage spoke out against what he called inappropriate use of Maine’s Freedom of Access Act during an appearance on WGAN-AM. He said he supports the law, but misuse of it by media members has resulted in “a foot thick of papers” related to FOA.
LePage’s statement came in the wake of a Portland Press Herald story that relied on the access law to report that LePage, his staff and security spent more than $35,000 on luxury hotels, restaurants and travel in Washington, D.C., last spring.
The Press Herald reported on July 23 that four months went by and LePage’s office failed to fully comply with its public records request. It also reported that exactly how much LePage and staff members spent at their hotel was not known, because LePage’s office has not provided receipts in response to multiple requests.
Dieter Bradbury, deputy managing editor of the Press Herald, said LePage’s statements on Thursday were “misleading and inaccurate.” The state charges fees for searching for and copying public records, so taxpayers would not be on the hook for thousands of dollars due to requests, he said.
During the radio appearance on Thursday, LePage also said media members should “get their little backsides up to my office” and go through documents themselves. The Press Herald sent a reporter to LePage’s office on Thursday, but the governor’s press office said the reporter had to first see the governor’s lawyer, who was not available, Bradbury said.
LePage’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press.