Watchdog committee holds off probe on report

6:54 PM, Feb 28, 2014   |    comments
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AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A legislative watchdog panel is holding off on a potential investigation despite a federal report that warned the Governor not to meddle with state hearings that determine unemployment compensation.

Several hearing officers claims they were 'scolded' at a meeting with LePage at the Blaine House last March.

The report stems from an investigation by federal Department of Labor officials that the Governor and other administrative officials interfered with the unemployment claims process and may have intimidated hearing officers. 

The report says no violations were committed, but had concerns that political pressure could have a negative impact on cases in the future. The non-partisan Government Oversight Committee briefly discussed the report today and whether an investigation was needed was split along party lines.

Republican lawmakers felt the findings uncovered problems that needed correcting but did not want pursue a probe whether the Governor put pressure on unemployment hearing officers during the meeting.

Rep. Chuck Kruger, the Democratic House Chair of the committee, has been pushing for a investigation for nearly a year. 

Members of the Government Oversight Committee will continue their discussions on the report from the U.S. Department of Labor at a meeting schedule for March 28th.

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