Governor says he won’t reinstate committee nominations
AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Republican Gov. Paul LePage says he won’t reinstate more than a dozen nominations of individuals to state boards and commissions after abruptly withdrawing them last week.
The governor withdrew the nominations after a panel voted down one of his nominees. Such gubernatorial nominations are reviewed by a legislative panel and then face confirmation votes in the Maine Senate.
LePage told The Associated Press that “not on my watch” will the nominations be reinstated.
“If the Democrats want to start playing politics, then let them play politics by themselves. Because I’m not playing,” said LePage, who leaves office in January.
Democratic House Speaker Sara Gideon said it’s unfortunate that the governor chose to scuttle his nominees before they had an opportunity for a hearing. She said his decision wasted the time of the nominees and those who traveled to Augusta to speak.
“This decision stymies the work of boards and commissions statewide and creates unnecessary chaos,” she said Tuesday in a statement.
Among the nominations were the board members of colleges, the Finance Authority of Maine and the Board of Environmental Protection.
LePage spokesman Peter Steele said the governor works hard to nominate qualified candidates.
“But if petty partisan politicians are going to punish highly qualified people for volunteering to serve the state of Maine, then the governor will withdraw them,” Steele said. “It is unconscionable for legislators to put good people through that kind of grueling process, all for nothing.”
The announcement came a day after a legislative panel opposed LePage’s nomination of a former senior policy adviser to the board of the Maine Turnpike Authority.
Lawmakers last Wednesday questioned deputy transportation commissioner Jonathan Nass’ stance on merging the turnpike authority with the transportation department, the Bangor Daily News reported. The governor supports such a change.
Rep. Andrew McLean, the committee’s Democratic co-chair, accused LePage of trying to “stack the deck” before he leaves office.
In most cases, current board or commission members will continue in office until a successor is confirmed by the state Senate, presumably next year when there’s a new governor in office. LePage is prevented by term limits from seeking re-election.