Image via WikipediaMaine Gov. Paul LePage wants the same exemption enjoyed by the Maine Legislature from the state's Freedom of Access Act ("FOAA")[1 M.R.S.A. sec 401 et seq.] when it comes to public access to his "working papers," according to a story on the Web site of the Maine Public Broadcasting Network (www.mpbn.net).
Gov. LePage's office claims Maine lawmakers have an unfair advantage because their notes and documents are not covered by the Act, whereas the public may request such information from the governor about his administration's plans. LePage's office insists any information blackout under his proposal would be temporary as the exemption would dissolve once a bill derived from his "working papers" would be introduced.
The managing editor of The Lewiston Sun Journal, a member of Maine's Right to Know Advisory Committee, voiced concern that LePage's proposed measure would also shield his staff from FOAA. The editor feared that extending the exemption to the governor's office could create a groundswell among other Maine public officials seeking the same protection.
As it is, the FOAA offers more than 300 exceptions to the Act's definition of a "public record." What may appear to be arrogance (because it is) on the Maine Legislature's part for exempting itself from the open government legislation is not unusual. Congress, for example, decided not to subject itself to the provisions of the federal Freedom of Information Act [5 U.S.C. sec. 552 et seq.].
In case Gov. LePage's proposed measure has yet to be named, "TUOL" recommends a Downeaster title: The 'Ya Kant Seeit Frum Heeuh' Bill.