AUGUSTA – A spokeswoman for House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, said Thursday that Gov. Paul LePage has agreed to meet with legislative leaders to discuss the future of a $925,000 consultant’s contract following reports that the resulting work included several instances of plagiarism.

A firm date for the meeting between LePage, Eves and Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland, and Republican leaders has not been set.

Democrats proposed the meeting Wednesday as part of their ongoing push to get LePage to cancel the contract with The Alexander Group. The firm is headed by consultant Gary Alexander, a former welfare chief in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

Alexander was hired by the LePage administration to review the state’s welfare system. However, the resulting studies have been assailed for containing errors, and more recently, several instances of plagiarism.

Democrats have seized on the controversy, saying Alexander is a LePage crony hired to validate the governor’s welfare proposals.

LePage has already suspended payments to Alexander and said in several statements that he is reviewing options, including withholding payments.

The consultant has been paid about $500,000 so far.

LePage hasn’t ruled out attempting to recoup the money, but a business litigation attorney told the Press Herald that doing so may require court action.

Steve Mistler can be contacted at 791-6345 or at:

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Twitter: @stevemistler

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