Gov. Paul LePage on Monday reiterated his support for health commissioner Mary Mayhew, calling her a "superstar" in his administration.

LePage’s comments were delivered during a press conference to unveil his slate of welfare reform bills. Mayhew has been under fire amid a series of rolling controversies at the DHHS and the Maine Center for Disease Control. Five CDC officials were recently subpoenaed by the Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee to explain the destruction of documents used to justify $4.7 million in public health grants. Meanwhile, a whistleblower lawsuit has been filed by Sharon Leahy-Lind, a former employee of the CDC, against director Sheila Pinette and two other officials.

Since then LePage and Mayhew have been under fire for not making leadership changes at the CDC and refusing to publicly condemn actions that have now been corroborated in sworn testimony. LePage said Monday that the court case prohibited Mayhew from commenting on the CDC controversy.

"There’s an ongoing investigation and trial between a former employee and the Department of Health Human Services," he said. "It’s totally inappropriate, if not illegal, for the commissioner to go out there try a case in public. I ask you all to respect the laws of the state of Maine. Frankly, she can’t do anything about it."

He added, "I just ask that you get the facts. The facts are available if you want to dig them up."

Sen. Emily Cain, D-Orono, co-chair of the Government Oversight Committee was critical of the governor’s comments. Cain said that the CDC controversy is over a year old and predated the court case that LePage said is now preventing Mayhew or his administration from addressing. 

"From my standpoint the silence has been deafening with this administration," she said. 

Cain noted testimony from CDC officials who repeatedly described the document destruction as "version control" while describing the absence of a record retention policy. Cain said that she was left with the impression there was little emphasis of transparency or accountability at the CDC.

"They described it as version control, but to me it was the destruction of documents," Cain said. "It raises the question about whether this is just the tip of the iceberg."