AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage is taking his town hall-style forums to a TV audience, though one critic questioned the decision to restrict attendees to people invited by his office.

LePage will participate Tuesday night in an unscripted event at Husson University in Bangor, the governor’s office announced.

The idea is for Mainers to hear directly from the governor about his vision for the state, LePage spokesman Peter Steele said.

Steele said the event isn’t a substitute for the State of the State address.

LePage previously said he’s going to take a pass on delivering the State of the State address live to lawmakers. Instead, he’s going to submit a letter in coming weeks.

The move to skip the annual address marks the latest chapter in LePage’s contentious relationship with lawmakers. The governor has repeatedly criticized lawmakers since taking office in 2010, and has stopped speaking with Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves, who is suing him in federal court. LePage also has a strained relationship with Senate President Michael Thibodeau, a fellow Republican who last year rejected his budget plan.

Two weeks ago, the House failed to muster support for a vote on an investigation that could have led to impeachment for alleged abuse of power.

At Tuesday’s event, LePage will appear before a small audience at the Dyke Center at Husson University. The governor’s office is working to invite a variety of people from the Bangor area, including Democrats, Republicans and independents, said Brent Littlefield, a political adviser to LePage.

Reporters from other media outlets will not be permitted at the venue.

Rep. Jeff McCabe, the Democratic leader in the House, said LePage appears to be isolating himself from the public by appearing in a forum that has a hand-picked audience.

“It’s odd to call something a town hall and control who gets to be in the audience,” he said. “It’s not a town hall.”

He said he was surprised that a television station would give the governor such a platform.

The event will be broadcast live from 8 to 9 p.m. on WVII-TV and streamed live on the Bangor station’s website, www.FoxBangor.com.


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