Wednesday, May 22, 2013
AUGUSTA — Attorney General William Schneider announced Friday that his special assistant will become Maine's first public access ombudsman.
Brenda Kielty, a lawyer who has been Schneider's public information officer since he was elected by the Legislature nearly two years ago, is expected to transition into her new job over the next few months.
Her new duties will include responding to inquiries about Maine's Freedom of Access Act, working to resolve complaints, preparing educational materials about the law in collaboration with the state's Right to Know Advisory Committee, and making recommendations about improving access to public records and proceedings.
"The public's right to know about the activities of government is a cornerstone of democracy," Schneider said in a news release.
"We look forward to having the means to provide more effective information and assistance to citizens about using the law," he said.
Established by law in 2007, the ombudsman position was finally funded this year, with $88,000 for salary and benefits that became available Sept. 1.
Kielty has worked as an educator and mediator and is a member of the school board in Regional School Unit 5, which encompasses Freeport, Durham and Pownal.
"I'm very excited about the opportunity this position will give me to make use of the different parts of my background, particularly to work toward expanding the public's awareness of the law as a tool that can increase their participation in government," Kielty said.
The position was advertised within Schneider's office and to district attorneys' offices across the state, said Linda Pistner, chief deputy attorney general.
Pistner, who led the review of three applicants, said the selection process focused on lawyers who had experience dealing with public access and public agencies.
The attorney general is an independent, constitutional officer elected every two years by the Legislature to ensure that laws are followed and citizens' rights are protected, Pistner said.
Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at: