Lawmakers, are you listening? If you’re not tired of the governor’s shenanigans, you’re not paying attention.

Last week, we found out that Gov. Paul LePage has assembled a secret study panel to review the practices of the Maine Human Rights Commission — a panel that his staff “forgot” to disclose for more than five months, in violation of state law.

This news comes after learning that he has ordered his staff to stonewall a legislative investigation into the way he withheld state money from a nonprofit social service agency in order to force it to withdraw a job offer to House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick.

And not only is he refusing to cooperate with the investigation, the governor is trying to derail it, by attacking the Government Oversight Committee’s co-chairman, Sen. Roger Katz of Augusta, claiming that the fellow Republican has some kind of personal vendetta against him.

And then, in a public meeting in Bar Harbor, LePage joked that some of his critics in the audience belonged in the Riverview Psychiatric Center. That displays an incredible lack of sensitivity coming from someone who claims to be a champion of people with disabilities, but it’s also a reminder that on his watch, the state psychiatric hospital has lost its federal accreditation, forcing Maine taxpayers to come up with an additional $20 million per year. You would think that after blowing it so badly, he might not want to mention it in public.

And that’s just last week. Over the last few months, LePage has used his discretionary power to effectively end a popular land conservation program; prevent boards and commissions from doing their work with a full complement of members; and leaving a strained judicial system even more overburdened by refusing to appoint judges in a timely fashion.


All this and more, simply because … well, who knows why he does it?

Is it because he is mad at somebody? Does he believe that he can singlehandedly run institutions that are built to operate by consensus? Does he think he can make his own rules?

There are no satisfying answers in his ever-changing, self-serving statements, or from the nonsensical explanations that come from his communications staff.

The governor’s commissioners continue to toe the party line and praise his leadership, and his legal staff gamely charges into one box canyon after another. But it’s clear that no one who has the governor’s ear can tell him to stop.

And that’s why we need the Legislature.

LePage may not listen to anyone, but the House and the Senate have the constitutional prerogative to tell him to stop. Whatever a bipartisan super-majority of lawmakers can agree on will become law.


A good place to start would be reviving the bill that would have stripped the governor’s ability to hold voter-approved bonds and use them for political leverage. Such a bill fell six votes short of override in the Republican-controlled House this year, and it is more needed today than ever.

Lawmakers also should find ways to force departments to spend appropriated funds for their intended purpose. The governor admits to abusing his discretion over Department of Education funds in the Eves case, and he has done the same in his petty battles with the Attorney General’s Office, the Community College System and when he cut off funds for the Human Rights Commission to protest a decision that had gone against a favored constituent.

LePage is using every scrap of power he can get his hands on to pursue his personal grudges. If legislators don’t stand up and defend their institutions, shame on them and too bad for the rest of us.

Either way, it’s going to be a long three years until we elect a new governor.

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