AUGUSTA — A controversial Cabinet pick who later led an effort to dismantle the State Planning Office is resigning that post as of Monday to return to the private sector.

Darryl Brown was first appointed by Gov. Paul LePage to lead the state Department of Environmental Protection, but could not serve because of a state conflict of interest law. The same day he resigned from the DEP in April, he was appointed by LePage to take over as director of the State Planning Office, where his main job was to lead an effort to move the office functions to other parts of state government.

Last week, an advisory panel approved a final plan to eliminate some jobs — including the director, deputy director, a secretary and two public service executives — and move other jobs to different agencies.

“The work is finished,” Brown said Wednesday. “I’m going back to the private sector.”

But Brown, 66, said he won’t return to Main-Land Development Consultants, the company he owns that presented the conflict of interest and forced him to resign as commissioner of DEP. He’s set to sell the company on Tuesday, and he’s looking for other work.

Brown resigned in April, two months after environmental groups started raising questions about his ability to serve. The groups cited state and federal laws that prevent those who head agencies such as DEP from earning at least 10 percent of their income from clients who receive federal Clean Water Act permits.

Attorney General William Schneider asked Brown to produce documents from his clients in the previous two years to prove there was no conflict, but Brown could not do so because he felt if they became public, it would hurt the business.

LePage spokeswoman Adrienne Bennett said Brown’s assignment at the State Planning Office was meant to be short.

“The governor is sad to see Darryl go,” Bennett said. “But he was extremely impressed not only by his abilities, but his willingness to take on a task that was deemed short-term.”

Rep. Bradley Moulton, R-York, said other administration officials will have to shepherd the proposal through the Legislature next year.

While Moulton has long been a critic of the State Planning Office, he’s also raised concerns about some elements of the restructuring plan.

While the plan would save a projected $750,000, most if not all of that money would be used to open a new government agency, the Office of Policy and Management.

“I’m a little disappointed to see him go,” Moulton said of Brown. “I thought he did a laudable task of researching the issue and trying to be creative in dealing with the things SPO does rather than just toss them out.”

House Minority Leader Emily Cain, D-Orono, said she was surprised that Brown didn’t see the plan through the Legislature and that there are bound to be many questions about the plan to dismantle an office that’s been around since 1968.

“It will go through the process of getting scrutinized and someone in the administration will have to answer those questions,” Cain said.

Brown is leaving a post that pays between $92,000 and $95,000 a year. He said he could have stayed in the position until July, when the office would be eliminated if the changes are approved by the Legislature, but that he felt his work was complete.

“Governor, I am deeply grateful to have had the opportunity to serve you in your administration,” he wrote in his resignation letter.

He said the challengers the state and nation face are overwhelming.

“It is clear to me that you are the right person at the right time to be guiding our state back to prosperity.”

 

Susan Cover — 620-7015

[email protected]

Kennebec Journal reporter Keith Edwards contributed to this report.


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