AUGUSTA, Maine — Republican Gov. Paul LePage came under attack Tuesday for his decision to delay nominations to boards and commissions until January instead of allowing the Senate to take them up this fall.
Senate Democratic leader Justin Alfond said the governor needs to do his job and quit playing games after Maine Public Broadcasting Network reported that LePage will delay nominations.
"The governor has gone from creating distractions to actively getting in the way of the government doing its job for Maine's people," Alfond said in a statement. "All these boards and commissions do important work, and nominations to these vacant positions should be made immediately."
LePage originally withdrew dozens of nominations toward the end of the last legislative session after criticizing lawmakers for failing to act on his tax-reform proposals.
He suggested to MPBN that a timeout was in order.
"Too much hatred between the Legislature and the executive branch, so there is a cool-down period until January, and then I will consider putting the judges in," he said. "That's the only ones I will consider putting in."
He said that for the remainder of his time in office, he'll go directly to the people using the referendum process, declaring, "I am going to go out there and tell the truth."
A LePage spokeswoman brushed aside Alfond's criticism, saying the governor takes appointments seriously and that a majority of the vacancies will remain filled with the current member until a replacement is confirmed. She also noted that not all confirmations need approval by the Legislature.
"There are 21 confirmable appointments that were pulled by the governor last session and I expect those nominations will move forward for consideration in January," said the spokeswoman, Adrienne Bennett.
The Land for Maine's Future Board is an example of what can happen because of unfilled vacancies.
It's been unable to reach a quorum to vote because several replacement members have not been named and the governor's cabinet has chosen not to attend the past couple meetings.