January 8, 2013

State agencies revert to Democratic control

The new top officials are not seen as outspoken partisans, but they will differ with Gov. LePage.

By Steve Mistler smistler@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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Incoming Attorney General Janet Mills is applauded by Maine Senate President Justin Alfond, second from right, Speaker of the House Mark Eves and Maine Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Leigh Saufley during Monday ceremonies at the House of Representatives.

Photos by Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

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New Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, right, greets Maine Senate President Justin Alfond, left, after being sworn in to his post Monday in Augusta by Gov. Paul LePage.

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The Attorney General's Office is the legal arm of the state.

It provides counsel to state agencies and the governor's office, but should not "(carry) the banner for one administration or another," Mills said.

"Most of all, the attorney general protects the people, not just the bureaucracy of the state machinery."

Mills hinted that there will be clashes with LePage, but said the debate is healthy.

"Every difference in opinion is not a difference in principle," she said.

The governor's reluctance to authorize state borrowing packages that have been approved by voters could become a flashpoint between LePage and Douglass.

Democrats have pushed the governor to initiate the borrowing, but LePage has said he will not do so until the state's financial picture improves.

On Monday, Douglass said in her prepared speech that she hopes to persuade LePage to authorize the bonds, and if she doesn't, "to keep the lines of communication open."

LePage smiled and shook his head when Douglass made her remarks about the state borrowing.

After the ceremony, two reporters met LePage in the hallway and tried to ask him about Douglass' belief that the voter-approved bonds should be initiated now.

LePage, flanked by his senior staff, did not stop and answer questions, walking briskly down the hallway and down a flight of stairs to his office.

He made only one audible comment when asked about Douglass, saying, "She hasn't been state treasurer for very long, has she?"


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