Maine panel wary of boosting power of state ombudsman in document fights

NFOIC state affiliate Maine Freedom of Information Coalition  is helping to drive this effort:

Lawmakers are treading carefully as they consider a request to grant investigative and enforcement powers to the state official who mediates disputes over access to government records and meetings.

The push to enhance the statutory power of Maine’s public access ombudsman follows two recent high-profile cases in which officials in the LePage administration delayed the release of documents requested through the Freedom of Access Act.

In one case, a nonpartisan review showed that officials in the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention ordered staff members to destroy documents after they were requested by a newspaper.

In the other, the administration delayed, for nearly a month, the release of the first portion of a $925,000 study of the state’s welfare system despite multiple requests by the Portland Press Herald and other media outlets, and a directive by Attorney General Janet Mills. Continue >>>