AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — There may be a lot of work for lawmakers in Augusta, but they also faced some distraction Tuesday because of Gov. Paul LePage’s lawsuit against Attorney General Janet Mills.
Gov. LePage filed the suit Monday, accusing Attorney General Mills of abuse of power because says she won’t provide him with legal representation and won’t pay for him to hire a private lawyer.
In the lawsuit, the Governor says he wanted to file legal briefs supporting President Trump in court cases about Trump’s controversial executive orders on immigration. He says Mills "dragged her feet" on the first one and refused to handle the other, then also refused to pay for him to hire an outside attorney.
Mills denies any delays in responding to the Governor's request and says she told the Governor he was welcome to hire private counsel. However, she said her office never pays for outside counsel in those situations, including at least one previous case involving the Governor.
Speaking on WGAN-AM Tuesday morning, the Governor said the situation is "virtually without" legal representation, while Mills is free to take positions on court cases, as she did by joining an "amicus brief" opposing President Trump.
"The governor is the senior executive for the state," he said, "and she makes policy decisions, not legal decisions, and her ideology clouds her ability to be a good lawyer."
Mills, meanwhile, called the Governor's suit "frivolous" and said the constitution is clear that the attorney general is independent. She also said she had never denied a request from the Governor for outside legal counsel.
"It seems like a politically motivated lawsuit, " Mills told NEWS CENTER. "I don’t know what his motives might be. I know what my motives will be in responding: don’t pick on me; I’ll fight back."
The Governor and the Attorney General have clashed over other issues during his term in office. Mills campaigned against the Governor is his 2014 reelection campaign, and she is considered a potential candidate for Governor herself next year.