Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey has acknowledged that he has been in a personal relationship with an employee in his office since last summer.

Attorney General Maine

Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey, shown in January, has acknowledged that he has been in a personal relationship with an employee in his office since last summer. Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press

“While our relationship has not violated any legal rules, office policy or law, I have directed Chief Deputy Attorney General Christopher Taub to supervise this person moving forward as this personal relationship continues,” Frey said in a written statement. “This is to ensure that we have appropriate boundaries between us. I should have done this once we realized we had feelings for one another. It was an error in judgment and for that I am sorry.”

Had Frey worked for another agency in state government, however, he would have been required to disclose the relationship immediately.

The sexual harassment policy for state employees includes a provision that says “supervisors who become personally involved with a subordinate are required to report the relationship to their supervisors so that a change in reporting structure can be considered.”

The Maine Attorney General’s Office operates outside the executive branch and is governed by the Legislature. It has its own sexual harassment policy, which does not include any language about relationships between subordinates and supervisors.

Legislative Republicans called on Democrats, who hold the majority of seats in the Legislature and elected Frey, to hold the attorney general accountable.


“We are under no illusions that calling for Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey to resign or face appropriate disciplinary action will result in any consequences,” they said. “Therefore we ask those responsible for his election, legislative Democrats: How do you intend to hold him accountable?”

A representative for Democratic House leaders did not respond Wednesday to questions about Frey’s statement.

Frey’s statement to the media did not identify the employee who has been assigned to the new supervisor. But an email to his staff on Tuesday said he and Assistant Attorney General Ariel Gannon “began a personal relationship in August” and that the move “is to ensure that AAG Gannon and I have appropriate work boundaries between us.”

Frey also told employees he should have taken the action sooner. “I apologize for any challenges this presents to our office and work, and for any damage I may have done to your trust in me,” he wrote.

Gannon is chief of the office’s child protective division and has worked for the office since 2013. The division includes more than 30 attorneys and support staff who handle child protection litigation and administrative appeals.

Gannon’s husband filed for divorce in March. She did not respond to an email on Wednesday.


A person or people with knowledge of the relationship had alerted the media in the days before Frey put out the statement at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday. It was not issued by the communications staff of the Office of the Maine Attorney General, but instead by Cara Courchesne, an outside consultant hired by Frey.

In an email Wednesday, Courchesne said Frey retained her to communicate about this matter. In the statement, Frey said his office “has met and continues to meet all our legal obligations with the same dedication to and respect for the people of Maine.” He also asked for privacy.

Late Wednesday, Courchesne confirmed in an email that the relationship between Frey and Gannon is consensual. Courchesne said that Frey is not married.

In a statement mailed to media representatives Wednesday, Courchesne said that Taub conducted an internal investigation last week and determined that the ongoing, consensual relationship between the attorney general and his colleague did not breach any laws, rules or office policy.

“Although this consensual relationship does not violate the Office of the Attorney General’s policies to date, it is clear that the policies of the office must reflect the high standards the people of Maine rightfully hold for the office. As such, Attorney General Frey commits to a full, transparent review of all the office’s policies. He will continue to cooperate and work with legislative leadership in a bipartisan, transparent and productive manner to address their concerns and preserve the integrity of the Office of the Attorney General,” the statement read.

Frey, a former lawmaker and practicing attorney from Bangor, has been attorney general throughout Gov. Janet Mills’ tenure in office. He was first elected by lawmakers in 2018 and has been reelected twice. Maine is the only state where constitutional officers – attorney general, secretary of state, treasurer and auditor – are chosen by the Legislature and not by voters.


Elizabeth Connellan Smith is a counsel in the Portland law firm of Verrill Dana’s Employment and Labor Group. She and her colleague Elizabeth T. Johnston have conducted in-person and virtual workshops on workplace relationships for employers.


In an interview Wednesday night, Smith speaking in general terms – she emphasized that she has no knowledge of Frey’s relationship – said workplace relationships are risky because they can create the perception among co-workers that the individual involved is receiving preferential treatment.

The favoritism perception, whether accurate or not, can affect employee morale, especially if an employee believes they were passed over for a promotion or a prized assignment, Smith said.

“A lot of this is subjective,” Smith said. “Other workers could come to conclusions that are not factually based.”

Amy Nicole Baker is a professor of psychology at the University of New Haven in Connecticut. She was asked about the risks involved with workplace relationships.


“Workplace morale often suffers, especially if the relationship is between a boss and a subordinate. Employees become concerned about possible favoritism,” Baker said in an email Wednesday night.

When asked if Frey had mitigated the impact by going public, Baker said the best course of action is to disclose, but the delay in making it public might have left some employees feeling betrayed.

“Without knowing the full details, generally it is better to disclose and request a different supervisor, in terms of employee and co-worker reactions,” Baker said. “These relationships typically do become public, and it’s better for the participants to acknowledge it themselves.”

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey contributed to this story.

Comments are not available on this story.