Monday April 09, 2012 | 05:46 PM

A bill that would have allowed the governor and all future governors to shield their working papers from the public was soundly rejected by the House last week, 98-47.

Even opponents of the bill were surprised by the margin of the vote, which showed bipartisan opposition to the idea.

Gov. Paul LePage's office supported the bill, saying that because lawmakers' working papers aren't public records under Maine law, the chief executive's shouldn't be.

Specifically, the bill would have created a public records exemption for "records, working papers, drafts and interoffice and intraoffice memoranda" used to prepare legislation or legislative reports.

It would have applied to the governor and "any employee of the governor's office."

While the House debate was not long, it was spirited. Rep. Lance Harvell, R-Farmington, summed it up with this zinger:

"Much of what we do here is about power," he said, according to the Maine Public Broadcasting Network. "It's about power and it's about secrecy. Power is always advancing. It never contracts. When you go to vote for this, remember this is only a bill that Richard Nixon could have loved and I urge you to vote no!"

The bill now goes to the Senate for a first vote.

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Open Season is your guide to the 2014 campaign. Our team of political writers has its sights set on Maine’s major elections, from the Blaine House to the U.S. Capitol.

Steve Mistler is covering the 2014 governor's race. He covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald. He spends a lot of time in the hallways of the State House.
Steve can be reached at 791-6345 or
On Twitter: @stevemistler

Eric Russell is covering Independent Eliot Cutler during the 2014 governor's race. He is a general assignment reporter for the Portland Press Herald.
Eric can be reached at 791-6344 or
On Twitter: @pphericrussell

Matt Byrne is covering Republican Paul LePage during the 2014 governor's race. He covers Falmouth, Cumberland, North Yarmouth, Yarmouth and Freeport for the Portland Press Herald.
Matt can be reached at 791-6303 or
On Twitter: @mattbyrnePPH

Randy Billings is covering Democrat Mike Michaud during the 2014 governor's race. He covers Portland City Hall for the Portland Press Herald.
Randy can be reached at 791-6346 or
On Twitter: @randybillings

Kevin Miller is covering Maine's U.S. Senate race and 1st Congressional District race. He covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald.
Kevin can be reached at 317-6256 or
On Twitter: @kevinmillerdc

Michael Shepherd is covering Maine's 2nd Congressional District race. He is a news and State House reporter for the Kennebec Journal.
Michael can be reached at 621-5632 or
On Twitter: @mikeshepherdME

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