AUGUSTA – Gov. Paul LePage’s administration has not publicly released his daily or weekly schedules since he took office in January, breaking with more than 30 years of practice by governors and raising questions about his vow to have a transparent administration.

During last year’s gubernatorial campaign, LePage’s website included a section called “Your Right to Know,” which emphasized his commitment to strengthening the state’s Freedom of Access Act.

“When Paul is governor, open government will be a reality, not a talking point,” the website said. “Any roadblocks Mainers face in the pursuit of public information from a governmental entity must be torn down.”

There also was a pledge to create a Maine version of C-SPAN to broadcast live proceedings from the State House, including “key gubernatorial presentations.”

“Maine people deserve a close look underneath the State House dome to see what politicians are up to,” the website said.

Now, reporters and the public don’t know whether the governor is in state or out of state, who he’s meeting with, or whether he is in Augusta or elsewhere in Maine.

His predecessor, Gov. John Baldacci, released weekly and weekend schedules that listed his appearances at public events, but not private meetings.

People who work in and around state government said Maine governors have put out schedules of some sort since at least the 1970s, although the format and the information included have varied for each administration.

Nationally, groups such as the Sunlight Foundation, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., have lobbied members of Congress to post their schedules online. Earlier this year, the foundation criticized LePage for signing an executive order to create a business advisory group that would be exempt from the state’s Freedom of Access Act. The group was never formed.

The foundation’s communications director, Gabriela Schneider, said a schedule helps the media and the public determine who’s spending time with the governor.

With LePage releasing no schedules, she said, “It makes you scratch your head and wonder, does he have something to hide?”

Adrienne Bennett, LePage’s spokeswoman, said the communications office does get word out before major public events, but it has fewer staffers than in previous administrations and LePage doesn’t attend as many public events as previous governors.

“He is a governor who’s rolling up his sleeves and getting in the thick of the issues every single day,” she said. “He’s not a public-appearance governor.”

LePage does hold monthly Capitol for a Day town hall meetings, which are designed to give the public a chance to ask the governor and his top commissioners questions, Bennett said.

Choosing one Maine county for each Capitol for a Day, LePage visits businesses throughout the day to speak to owners, most of whom do not want the media present, she said.

An informal survey of statehouse reporters from 20 states across the country showed that 15 governors put out schedules, either daily or weekly, and five do not. The reporters surveyed are all members of Capitolbeat, an association of capitol reporters and editors.

In addition to LePage, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Gov. Sean Parnell of Alaska and Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana — all fellow Republicans — do not publicly release schedules.

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, a Republican who just entered the race for the GOP nomination for president, does not put out a weekly schedule as governor, but does send notices 24 hours in advance of public events, said reporters in Texas.

The same can be said for Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, who does not put out a weekly schedule but sends notice of his plans the night before.

In New Hampshire, a recent weekly schedule for Democratic Gov. John Lynch included events such as the Boston-Portsmouth Air Show, a birthday party for a 107-year-old woman and a state police awards ceremony.

In Florida, Republican Gov. Rick Scott puts out a more detailed schedule that includes meetings that are closed to the media. A recent schedule starts at 6:30 a.m. with a daily media briefing, lists meetings with Cabinet members, and continues to 4 p.m. with a legislative briefing.

Mal Leary, a reporter who has covered Maine politics for 36 years, said while the type of information released by each governor has differed, LePage is the first governor he has covered who hasn’t released a regular schedule.

“The only way we know what LePage is doing is by walking over and asking,” he said. “The reality is, his schedule is a public record and we can (file a Freedom of Access request for it), but we won’t get it before the event. It’s frustrating. I think it shows a misunderstanding of the need for transparency in government. The governor says he wants to be transparent, yet he keeps most of his schedule private.”

LePage is a former mayor of Waterville and a businessman who most recently was general manager of Marden’s Surplus & Salvage. His private-sector background is similar to that of Gov. Jim Longley, an independent who was governor from 1975-79.

Back then, staffers had to convince Longley to put out a public schedule, said Jim McGregor, who was his press secretary.

“Sometimes, people who have never been in politics aren’t used to the daily scrutiny,” McGregor said. “Longley came from the private sector. It was a learning experience.”

Mike Dowd, editor-in-chief of the Bangor Daily News and first vice president of the Maine Press Association, said a governor’s schedule helps the public keep track of the chief executive.

“The governor works for the people,” he said. “He should be accountable. He should be able to put together a schedule that serves the people. He should be willing to share that.”

MaineToday Media State House Writer Susan Cover can be contacted at 620-7015 or at:

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