Gov. Paul LePage came to public service after a long career in business, and his supporters will tell you that has a great impact on how he goes about his job.

Government, however, is not a business. Each has its own rules, and one cannot be substituted for the other.

The governor’s attempt to pass a law that would shield his legislative proposals, reports and working papers from the public records law looks like a time when he has the rules mixed up.

As the CEO of a company, it is easy to understand why LePage would want to keep his decision-making process outside the public view. As a governor, however, it’s a different story.

In business, LePage’s adversaries are his competition. In government, they are people of his state, who are entitled to the full knowledge of how their government operates. Shielding the inner workings of his office from them prevents that government from functioning as it should.

Maine’s constitution makes the governor a strong force, with power to set the legislative agenda and directly control executive branch functions. Those are the kind of decisions that should not be made in private.

LePage knows this. When he ran for office, strengthening the Right to Know law was important enough to be one of 11 “solutions” in his “New Ideas to get Maine working” plan that is still on his campaign website.

“Every Maine citizen has a right to know what government is up to and how it spends our tax dollars,” the campaign promised. “Any roadblocks Mainers face in the pursuit of public information from a governmental entity must be torn down. Paul will fight for a timelier, more inclusive Freedom of Access law. …”

Since coming to office, however, LePage has shown discomfort with openness in government. Last year, he signed an executive order creating a business advisory roundtable that would be exempt from the Right to Know Law. The group was never formed, but the governor still received criticism from the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation, which follows open government issues.

LePage has been steadfast in keeping other promises he made during the campaign. This is a case where he ought to keep his word.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.