AUGUSTA, Maine — Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s office issued a new policy Friday afternoon prohibiting state employees from using smartphones to text or instant message for official state business.
The policy was announced by the governor’s communications staff at a meeting of the Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee.
The policy was a direct response to statements two weeks ago by a former division director for the Maine Center for Disease Control, who told the committee she was instructed by superiors to use text messages because the messages were hidden under the state’s Freedom of Access Act.
Sharon Leahy-Lind’s former supervisors later denied they instructed her to avoid FOAA by using text messages.
Leahy-Lind has filed a complaint of harassment with the Maine Human Rights Commission as well as a federal whistleblower lawsuit related to her allegations that CDC supervisors destroyed public documents and falsified new documents.
As many as 4,500 state workers may have access to smartphone text-messaging technology. About 2,000 of the phones in state employees’ hands are state-issued, while the remaining 2,500 are owned by employees but are authorized for use on the state’s contract with U.S. Cellular, using BlackBerry technology and servers not managed or owned by the state.