AUGUSTA — Two central Maine lawmakers who represent a large number of state employees released statements today distancing themselves from comments made by Gov. Paul LePage last week when he said middle managers in state government are corrupt.

Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, said he grew up with many state workers and considers them friends who often work hard for less pay than they would receive in the private sector.

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“For our governor to question their integrity, to essentially call them morally depraved — look it up — is demeaning and inexcusable,” Katz wrote. “I respectfully suggest that those comments are not worthy of the chief executive. To date, he has resisted calls from many of us to apologize for what he said, and we hope he will change his mind.”

Last week, at a town hall meeting in Newport, LePage said state government is expensive and bogged down by bureaucrats.

“The problem is the middle management of the state is about as corrupt as you can be,” he said. “Believe me, we’re trying every day to get them to go to work, but it’s hard.”

On Friday, LePage released a letter to state workers to explain that his comment was intended to convey that some state workers have been “corrupted by the bureaucracy.”

Katz and other central Maine lawmakers were hoping to meet with LePage to discuss his comments, but that meeting has not yet happened. Rep. Patrick Flood, R-Winthrop, who released a separate statement today, said he was “sorry the governor” referred to many of his constituents in Readfield and Winthrop as corrupt.

“I imagine it was an uncomfortable and difficult weekend for some of these employees as they felt compelled to defend their work ethics, their honor, and their integrity with their own families and friends,” he wrote.

The Governor’s Office declined to comment this afternoon.