AUGUSTA -- (NEWS CENTER) Five managers at the Maine Center for Disease Control declined to testify today before the Legislature's Government Oversight Committee. Now the Committee will decide whether or not to subpeonal them to testify about allegations staff was ordered to shred documents.
C-D-C Director Dr. Sheila Pinette, Deputy Director Christine Zukas, Lisa Socobasin, Director of Health Equity, Debra Wigand, Director of Population Health, and Andrew Finch, Senior Program Manager all declined.
Only whistleblower Sharon Leahy-Lind, who has already spoken before the Committee, agreed to appear. Leahy-Lind first made the allegations public and has filed suit against Dr. Pinette and the Department of Health and Human Services, which CDC is part of. Leahy-Lind says she was ordered on two occasions to shred documents that would have shown the core group manipulated funding under the Healthy Maine Partnership Program. She refused both times and was eventually let go.
Most Committee members were trying to avoid the subpeona option. "We've used in the past I think quite effectively," says Senator David Burns (R-Whiting). "I don't want to see us lose the process and I don't want to unnecessarily tarnish someone's reputation."
Other legislators feel that the information is crucial enough that issuing subpeonas is warranted. "This is not for us to antagonize the Department - not at all," says Senator Margaret Craven (D-Lewiston) "Because they have a very, very hard job. But for me it is to have a department work properly for the people of Mainw and taxpayers of Maine to have the department work being adequately and properly."
The Government Oversight Committee is the only committee in the Legislature that has subpeona power. They have scheduled the vote for next Friday, February 21.