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Rep. Paul Davis (R-Sangerville)
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For Immediate Release

Date: 02/28/14

Rep. Davis Requests Investigation of Partisan Activity by Nonpartisan Staff

GOP leadership voices support of request to Government Oversight Committee in light of news reports

AUGUSTA - State Representative Paul Davis (R-Sangerville), ranking House Republican on the Maine Legislature's Government Oversight Committee (GOC), submitted a request to the Democratic chairpersons of the committee that an investigation be conducted into the activity of nonpartisan staff.

Recent news reports have uncovered emails from an Office of Policy and Legal Analysis (OPLA) analyst for the Health & Human Services Committee that reveal highly partisan and legally questionable activities. The office in question and many other legislative offices are designated "nonpartisan," meaning they work for Democrats, Republicans, and other members of the Legislature and are expected to produced unbiased work.

In one incident, an analyst wrote up "talking points" for Democratic lawmakers. In another, the analyst asked a lobbyist to erase an email. The willful destruction of public records is a Class D crime under Maine law. The correspondence was uncovered via a public records request by The Maine Wire, a conservative online news source.

"It is necessary for the integrity of our Legislature and the trust between parties and between elected members and staff to investigate the extent to which nonpartisan staff has engaged in partisan activity," reads the letter from Rep. Davis.

Rep. Davis added, "This kind of activity shakes the public's confidence in our ability to maintain a wall of separation between politics and policymaking in key areas of state government."

House and Senate Republican leadership welcomed Rep. Davis's request for an investigation and encouraged the committee chairpersons to follow through with it.

"The work of our nonpartisan legislative staff must be conducted with the full trust and confidence of each and every legislator, regardless of party affiliation," said House Republican Leader Ken Fredette of Newport.

"This is a serious matter that underscores why we need a Government Oversight Committee," said Senate Republican Leader Michael Thibodeau of Winterport. "From the media accounts I have seen, this is at the very least a breach of the public's trust in what is supposed to be a nonpartisan office. I find these e-mails offensive and I call on the Government Oversight Committee to conduct a full investigation."

If Rep. Davis's request is granted, an investigation would be conducted by the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability (OPEGA) and would look into written communications between nonpartisan legislative staff, lawmakers, outside organizations, and others.

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David Sorensen
Maine House Republicans
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