AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage issued a letter to the state’s military personnel on Wednesday, saying his decision to fire Maine National Guard Adjutant Gen. James D . C ampbell the day before was warranted, but it doesn’t include a reason for the dismissal.
“Yesterday, I took the difficult step of making a change in the command structure of the Maine National Guard,” LePage’s letter states. “It was not a decision I took lightly. However, I am confident it was in the best interest of you — our soldiers and airmen — and the Maine National Guard.”
LePage fired Campbell shortly before the general was scheduled to make a speech to the Legislature about the state of the Maine National Guard. After the firing, LePage issued a statement saying his decision was based on an internal review of the general.
“I have lost faith in his ability to lead Maine’s soldiers and airmen who serve so proudly in the National Guard,” LePage said in the statement. “Effectively immediately, I have relieved him of his command.”
Adrienne Bennett, the governor’s press secretary, said Tuesday the internal review had been happening for some time, but she would not elaborate further on the firing.
LePage, however, told the Maine Public Broadcasting Network the review of Campbell was spurred by a request made through Maine’s Freedom of Information Act and not by his own investigative team.
“I asked my legal staff to look at some information being prepared for you folks, and when I got to see that information, I lost confidence in the command, and I made a change,” LePage told reporter Mal Leary. “This is absolutely a policy matter.”
Campbell, in an interview with the Bangor Daily News, said the Portland Press Herald had requested and received copies of correspondences he had made over the last year or so. The BDN also has requested Campbell’s letters, emails and texts.
“They [the Press Herald] have the emails dealing with the stuff from last year,” Campbell said, referencing when controversial plans to transform Maine’s historic 133rd Engineer Battalion into an infantry unit were made public. “They are going to dredge that up again.”
At that time, LePage stood by the adjutant general, who said the move was necessary to maintain Guard levels in Maine despite the shifting needs of the Guard nationally.
When asked why the governor was upset with him, Campbell said he was still trying to process what happened and wasn’t ready to talk.
“I really am not ready to make a statement right now,” said Campbell, who has served as the Maine National Guard’s top officer since July 2012.
Leary said in his radio report that the issue leading to Campbell’s dismissal revolved around the reorganization of the National Guard.
“We don’t know exactly what it was that triggered the governor on this, but the pretty strong hint is Gen. Campbell was going in one direction and the governor wanted to go in another,” he said.
After LePage fired Campbell, he appointed Maine Air National Guard Brig. Gen. Gerard F. Bolduc as the interim adjutant general. Bolduc, who is the Maine Air Guard commander, will also serve as commissioner of the state Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management.
Bolduc joined the Air Force and was commissioned in March 1982 through the Academy of Military Science, Knoxville, Tennessee. After completion of navigator training, he was assigned to Bangor Air National Guard Base, Maine. He served in numerous operations and maintenance assignments and held squadron group and vice wing command positions, according to a Guard spokesman.
LePage said in the letter to Maine servicemembers that he would convene a nomination board to begin the selection process for the next adjutant general.
“The board will focus on finding the best possible leadership for this venerable Maine institution,” LePage said.