Governor Temporarily Withdraws Nomination of Education Commissioner

February 9, 2016

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, February 09, 2016
Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary, (207) 287-2531

AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage today announced the temporary withdrawal of his nomination of Dr. Bill Beardsley as commissioner of the Maine Department of Education.

The Governor halted the nomination upon learning Education Committee members admitted they plan to reject Dr. Beardsley’s confirmation for political reasons unrelated to his qualifications for the job.
Democrats have repeatedly used this tactic to denounce nominees. The Governor cited the vitriolic mistreatment of former nominees by Democrats playing partisan political games, including Dr. Bruce Williamson of the Maine Public Utilities Commission and Susan Dench, who was nominated to the University of Maine System's Board of Trustees.

“I am temporarily withdrawing Dr. Beardsley’s nomination because Democrats on the Joint Standing Committee on Education are planning to unanimously oppose him solely for partisan political games, without regard to his impeccable qualifications,” said Governor LePage. “Let me be perfectly clear: I have enormous respect for Dr. Beardsley, and I have full confidence in his qualifications. He is my choice for commissioner of DOE, but I will not allow him to be a political whipping boy for socialist Democrats.”

Governor LePage said that once Democrats put aside their childish and immature political games, he will put Dr. Beardsley up for nomination again at a later date.

“Democrats are using Dr. Beardsley’s confirmation hearing as a platform to advance an activist political agenda, but they fail to recognize the Chief Justice invited the Legislature to clarify the statute for transgender students,” he said.

In her concurrence, the Chief Justice stated the following:

Put simply, it could now be argued that it would be illegal discrimination for a restaurant, for example, to prohibit a man from using the women’s communal bathroom, and vice versa. I agree with the dissent that it is highly unlikely that the Legislature actually intended that result. Accordingly, on this matter of public policy, it would benefit the public for the Legislature to act quickly to address the concern raised by the dissent in this matter.

“I could not agree more,” stated the Governor. “Once the Legislature fulfills its legislative duty by establishing a clear policy on this matter, the Executive Branch will move ahead with rulemaking to implement this law.”

On Tuesday, the Governor also wrote a letter to Department of Education staff reiterating the effective leadership of Dr. Beardsley and his staff. “In light of an announcement I will be making today, I want to make perfectly clear to all of you that Dr. Bill Beardsley and Suzan Beaudoin are the right leadership team for DOE, and they will continue uninterrupted in their roles,” he wrote. “I know that there have been several leadership transitions at DOE, and I have respect and the utmost confidence this is the right leadership team for DOE and this administration.”