The governor was never authorized unilaterially to represent Maine's interests in the Texas-led ACA challenge, according to a letter from the state's deputy attorney general.
Maine Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican who added his name to the list of plaintiffs challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act in a Texas-led federal lawsuit, will leave office in six weeks and take his involvement in the suit with him.
LePage, who was barred from pursuing a third consecutive term, will be succeeded as governor by the state's current attorney general, Janet Mills, a Democrat who declined to get the state itself involved in the ACA challenge and who beat LePage's favored candidate in this month's election.
Candidates to take over as Maine attorney general, meanwhile, are campaigning in a race that the state's legislators will decide December 5 by secret ballot, as The Portland Press Herald reported.
Amid this political turnover, the Maine Attorney General's Office formally notified the court clerk handling the ACA challenge that LePage had been acting in his individual capacity when he retained the Texas attorney general as counsel in the case. That's because LePage, as governor, doesn't have the authority to retain counsel on Maine's behalf without the consent of the Maine attorney general and the Maine attorney general didn't consent, Deputy Attorney General Susan P. Herman wrote in a letter Friday.
"To the extent that Paul R. LePage seeks to represent the interests of the State of Maine in this lawsuit, such participation is not authorized by law," Herman wrote, noting that LePage's term ends January 2.
There are 20 states with Republican leaders who filed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit last February, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. But with LePage leaving office and Wisconsin Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul vowing to pull his state from the lawsuit, there will likely be no more than 18 such state leaders moving forward.
Steven Porter is an associate content manager and Strategy editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.