Fallout from the split between Norman Olsen and the LePage Administration continued this week as the ex-Department of Marine Resources chief responded to a post on the Pine Tree Politics blog that raised questions about Olsen’s claim that he couldn’t get a meeting with the governor for nearly six weeks.
Meanwhile, Gov. Paul LePage hit back against Olsen’s other allegations in a 1,600-word parting statement last week. LePage, talking to reporters Monday at an event in South Portland, called “unequivocally fabricated” Olsen’s statement that said the governor planned to forsake collaboration with Portland on marine issues because the city wouldn’t support him politically.
Olsen, in a statement released today, stood by his original statement.
Olsen also took issue with the PTP post, which provided documents showing that the ex-DMR chief had many opportunities to meet with the governor. Olsen had previously said that he needed to wait nearly six weeks to meet with LePage “on time-critical issues of resource management worth tens of millions of dollars to the State.”
In the most recent statement, Olsen acknowledged that he participated in other meetings with the governor. However, his request for a private meeting with LePage to discuss specific policy initiatives and communication problems went unfulfilled for nearly six weeks.
He also provided emails that he said demonstrated that he had been cut off from LePage. The administration has not responded to a request to verify his claim.
The following is Olsen’s statement from this week:
“All commissioners are routinely involved in any number of meetings and public events that involve the Governor and various participants.
These meetings are called for specific purposes, are focused on a specific topic or agenda, and are strictly time-limited.
The meetings cited in a recent blog were all meetings for specific purposes with other participants, and were focused on specific topics. They did not provide me any opportunity to confer with the Governor on other substantive issues.
I specifically requested a private meeting with the Governor on specific issues, to receive his guidance on his agenda, to brief him on and receive his support for Department initiatives, and to ensure that we were properly communicating.
I waited six weeks for that meeting, which was divided into two sessions on June 27 and 29.
With specific regard to Portland, the Governor could not have been clearer.
My original statement stands.”
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