Friday, December 13, 2013
AUGUSTA -- Lawmakers will vet the final slate of over 70 nominations made by Gov. Paul LePage on Wednesday.
Two of the governor's picks could generate some scrutiny from Democrats.
LePage has nominated outgoing Conservation Commissioner Bill Beardsley to become a member of the Maine Board of Education.
Beardsley, a former president of Husson College and Republican gubernatorial candidate, will transition out of the conservation post when the agency merges with the Department of Agriculture on Thursday.
Last month LePage expressed "full confidence" in Beardsley despite questions about his handling of sexual abuse allegations against the Rev. Bob Carlson, a former chaplain at Husson who committed suicide Nov. 13 after learning that Maine State Police were investigating allegations that he sexually abused several children over 40 years.
Beardsley, who would have been required to report such allegations, said he was warned about inappropriate sexual relationships involving Carlson but did not know minors were involved.
Some Democrats have suggested that Beardsley could face questions about the Carlson case when the former Husson president is reviewed by the Legislature's Education Committee.
Also nominated to the Board of Education are Peter E. Geiger of Lewiston and Ande A. Smith of North Yarmouth. The hearing for the nominations will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday in Room 202 of the Cross Building. Audio of the hearing can be heard by visiting the committee's audio broadcast site.
Members of the Board of Education are paid $55 per day while attending board meetings and doing other board business. The state also covers expenses.
LePage has also appointed his chief legal counsel, Daniel Billings, to become a district court judge. Billings, a longtime Republican Party operative, may face questions about his partisan activities. However, Democrats have privately conceded that Billings is a qualified pick for the bench.
The Judiciary Committee is scheduled to review Billings at 1:30 p.m.
Other nominations include Superior Court picks:
— Honorable Jeffrey L. Hjelm of Camden
— Honorable Thomas E. Humphrey of Sanford
— Honorable Thomas D. Warren of Brunswick
— Honorable Joyce A. Wheeler of South Portland
Audio of the Judiciary Committee hearings can be heard by visiting the committee's audio broadcast site.
All of the governor's nominations must be confirmed by the Senate.