BANGOR, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage never viewed a labor mural in person before ordering it removed from the Labor Department headquarters and setting off a firestorm of protest, according to a federal court document filed Thursday.
The fact that the governor had only seen photographs of the mural before ordering its removal previously had been reported in the Bangor Daily News in March.
A 19-page document was filed in U.S. District Court in Bangor in the lawsuit against LePage and other state officials seeking to have the mural depicting scenes in Maine labor history returned to the Labor Department. LePage ordered the mural removed in March, saying it was biased in favor of organized labor and overlooked business contributions.
The document, called a “stipulation,” contains a list of facts that both sides in the lawsuit agree upon. One of those facts was that LePage had not seen the mural in person at the time it was removed.
“I found it rather disturbing that the governor would make a judgment about whether the mural was one-sided without having all of the facts in front of him, including, to say the least, viewing the mural,” said attorney Jeff Young, who represents the plaintiffs.
The governor’s spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment.
The lawsuit was filed in April on behalf of an organized labor representative, a workplace safety official, three artists and an attorney.
Maine’s attorney general says the LePage administration was exercising its right to “government speech” in removing the mural.