Maine Attorney General Janet Mills has found no basis for a criminal investigation into actions by Gov. Paul LePage that led a charter school operator to rescind a job offer to a LePage political foe.
House Speaker Mark Eves, a Democrat, accused the Republican governor of blackmail for allegedly threatening to withhold funding from Good Will-Hinckley over his hiring, causing him to be fired.
The request to the attorney general for an investigation was made by three lawmakers - Democratic Reps. Ben Chapman and Charlotte Warren and independent Rep. Jeffery Evangels - who've called for impeachment proceedings against the governor over the episode.
In a letter to the three lawmakers, Mills wrote that it's possible that conduct that may be viewed as "offensive or inappropriate" won't rise to the level of criminal conduct.
"My office has carefully reviewed all available information and all relevant provisions of the criminal code, including 'official oppression,' and concludes that there is not a basis at this time for us to pursue a criminal investigation," Mills wrote on Monday.
Mills said she consulted with Kennebec County District Attorney Maeghan Maloney, who concurred with her conclusion.
The decision doesn't end legal proceedings. A civil rights lawsuit brought by Eves is moving forward in U.S. District Court in Maine.
David Webbert, Eve's attorney, said Tuesday the attorney general's decision comes as no surprise.
"The speaker will continue to focus on his federal civil rights lawsuit because it is the most effective way to hold Governor LePage personally accountable for his reckless abuse of power and to set a legal precedent to protect Maine's people from future such abuses by a governor," Webbert said in a statement.
Further political ramifications are also possible. Many lawmakers who believe the governor abused his power want to take action, whether it's a formal rebuke or some other response, Eves said.