AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine’s Democratic attorney general said the Republican governor unlawfully transferred over $10 million out of Maine’s consumer protection trust fund.
Gov. Paul LePage directed the state controller to make the transfer out of the attorney general’s account and into a special revenue account, he said Thursday.
The governor has long been concerned that Attorney General Janet Mills’ discretion over millions of dollars from court settlements flouts the Maine Constitution. In 2015, LePage ordered a similar transfer of $21.5 million in settlement money from a legal settlement against Standard & Poor’s.
LePage on Thursday said the transferred funds originally came from the state’s recent settlements with Volkswagen and credit rating agency Moody’s Corp.
“By way of my executive action, I am making no comment on whether the purposes for which the attorney general wants to spend the money are appropriate,” LePage said Thursday. “I maintain that the decision belongs to the Legislature and not the attorney general.”
But Mills said LePage lacked legal authority for the transfer. She said the fund is now overdrawn in violation of the law, court order and the state constitution.
“Now he wishes to misappropriate funds that the Attorney General’s Office is using instead to fight the opiate epidemic, to litigate against corporate wrongdoers and to win restitution for the state and its people,” she said. Mills’ office uses the fund, for example, to purchase naloxone for local police departments.
Mills has registered to run for governor as a Democratic candidate. LePage is term-limited from running again and his second term expires in January 2019.