Governor Paul R. LePage and Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen.
Maine Gov. Paul LePage
When Maine Gov. Paul LePage held a meeting with unemployment hearing officers last year and told them they were deciding too many cases in favor of workers, he endangered the fair-hearings process, according to a review by the U.S. Department of Labor. Not only that:
The federal review showed that the administration’s labor commissioners have intervened in the work of hearing officers by questioning them about decisions they have made in individual cases, which “could be perceived as an attempt to influence the appeals decision-making process in favor of employers.”

The review also says that Maine’s system for handling unemployment appeals doesn’t always meet federal guidelines and should be revised in certain technical areas, related to the handling of evidence and the legal weight given to rulings by the state’s Unemployment Insurance Commission.

These conclusions have spurred a back-and-forth between LePage and Democratic legislators, with state Sen. Troy Jackson, a Democratic candidate for the U.S. House, calling for LePage's impeachment and LePage responding "if he has a cause, then bring it on." More to the point, it's an election year. LePage has given Democrats plenty of ammunition to run with, and the federal government concluding that yes, he did try to improperly pressure unemployment officers to decide against workers is certainly something to campaign on.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 11:12 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Daily Kos.

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