April 27, 2012

LePage writes letter to state employees about "corrupt" remark

Ann S. Kim

AUGUSTA — Gov. LePage today released a letter to state employees to explain his remarks about "corrupt" middle management in state government.

The governor wrote that the culture of state government needs to change from "no" to "can do!" but that some employees have not come on board. He said they want to keep doing the same thing because it was always done that way.

"Quite frankly, that attitude is unacceptable. In my opinion, it shows they have been corrupted by the bureaucracy," LePage wrote.

On Thursday, in response to a question about fees, the governor said in an evening town hall meeting in Newport that state government is inefficient and so big it needs the "trick" of fees to function.

"Believe me, there is a lot of good and hard-working people that work for the state. They are not the problem," he said at the meeting, which was part of his Capital for a Day event. "The problem is the middle management of the state is about as corrupt as you can be. Believe me, we're trying everyday to get them to go to work, but it's hard."

The Maine State Employees Association earlier today issued a statement saying that the remark was "baseless" and "insulting." The union represents more than 8,000 state workers.

Ginette Rivard, president of MSEA, said that state workers are honest public servants.

"Outside the governor's office, the use of state resources to help family and friends is almost unheard of," she said in a statement.

She would not elaborate on the statement, which appeared to be a reference to two LePage family members who work in the executive branch.

LePage's spokeswoman, Adrienne Bennett, said today that LePage was not talking about corruption in the sense of bribery or criminal activity.

She said that in the governor's view it is "corruptible behavior" for employees to insist on upholding the status quo and delaying progress. She said the MSEA has told members to "ride out" the current administration.

"What the governor is describing is a lack of integrity," she said.




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