In her recent criticism of Sen. Susan Collins, is Speaker Sara Gideon being hypocritical in saying she hopes the federal government’s actions are not “too little, too late” for the state of Maine to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic? Her criticism really stuck with me, as I am one of the four Republican leaders who has repeatedly requested that she convene the Maine Legislature so we can get to work addressing some of our state’s most pressing matters.

But for more than three months now, Gideon has declined to take any meaningful action to help those suffering from the health and economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. The truth is, she has not pushed to engage the Legislature.

It has now been more than 90 days since the Legislature adjourned, and Gov. Mills imposed her executive authority over the people of Maine. During that time, the state of our economy has fallen to pieces, and the government programs meant to cushion that impact have failed. Hundreds of self-employed individuals still are unable to access the unemployment benefits they are entitled to and our towns and municipalities aren’t getting the revenues they need to function, even though the feds sent us $1.25 billion to address their shortfalls more than a month ago.

These problems require urgent action from the Maine Legislature, but none of these issues has prompted Speaker Gideon to end the governor’s executive authority and call the Legislature back.

On May 2, Republican leadership requested that Gideon call the Legislature back. She declined, accusing us of being political. On May 27, we sent another letter, requesting that she call the Legislative Council to meet so legislative leaders could have a conversation with the administration; again, she refused because, according to her, the administration has been very cooperative. “Representatives of the Mills administration, including commissioners,” would engage in “comprehensive and detailed discussions,” said Gideon.

A little more than an hour after Republicans received this message, Gov. Mills prohibited a member of her Cabinet from meeting with a legislative committee on unemployment, one of the most important issues facing Maine people today. Speaker Gideon was fully aware at the time she sent this letter that the commissioner was not going to show up for that meeting.

Months ago, Speaker Gideon posted the following on Facebook: “I personally pledge to work immediately with my colleagues to focus our efforts on getting aid to small businesses and the individuals and families they support. This needs to be specific to Maine, not out of a national playbook, and it needs to be immediate.” and she promised that there would be “More to come.”

Here we are more than two months later, and she still hasn’t made right on her pledge to the people of Maine. I hope, for the sake of our state, she acts on this pledge soon, but at this point, it is clear she is merely playing politics.

Recently she told Chuck Kruger, host of “Maine Challenge,” a Lincoln County Television show: “In the meantime, the question of whether the Legislature itself comes in for a special session is an ongoing question and one that we’re just monitoring closely.”

That’s election year code for, “We aren’t going to do a darn thing.”

Since the Legislature left town, Speaker Gideon has thrown herself fully into campaign mode, holding dozens of digital campaign events, fundraisers, tweeting on her campaign’s account over 400 times and filling the airwaves with attack ads against her opponent, Sen. Susan Collins.

Now, Gideon has published an op-ed demanding that the U.S. Senate do more when she has repeatedly refused to lift a finger as speaker of the Maine House. It seems to me that she is playing by a different set of rules, designed to benefit her race for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate from this crisis when she should instead be acting as a leader.

The people of Maine deserve more than what they’re currently getting from Speaker Sara Gideon. That’s why I’m renewing my call for her to put her campaign aside for long enough to make the tough decisions that need to be made.

To echo her concerns, let’s hope, for everyone’s sake, it’s not “too little, too late.”

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