August 04, 2020

Second lawsuit lodged against state Legislature Abbot man alleges lawmakers violated Freedom of Access law

ABBOT – Undeterred that his first lawsuit against members of the 120th Legislature was dismissed, an Abbot man has filed a second complaint for violation of the Freedom of Access law.

Wilbur “Bud” Landry said Friday that he failed to specify a statute in his original lawsuit, in which he alleged that certain legislators violated Maine’s public access laws. In his complaint, he specifically named state Reps. Patricia Blanchette, D-Bangor, Lillian O’Brien, D-Lewiston, Charles Mitchell, D-Vassalboro, Stanley Gerzofski, D-Brunswick, Michael Quint, D-Portland, and members of the 120th State Legislature.

Landry said that after he had testified against LD 464, an act to require a license to sell firearms, during a March 7 public hearing in Augusta, the named legislators left the room to hold a private caucus in a separate room. Landry said he had objected to the caucus at the public hearing and followed the legislators out into the hallway.

“Some of us tried to follow them, but they continually walked away,” Landry said. “They discussed an amendment that was permitted [to be public] under the Freedom of Access [law].”

That “clandestine” meeting violated Title 1, Chapter 13, Sections 401 to 405, as well as Rule 305 of the Joint Rules, Landry said. Rule 305 outlines the scheduling of public hearings and work sessions.

Landry, who is acting as his own attorney and is seeking compensation for the costs of the lawsuit, wants legislators to be held accountable for their actions. “They did wrong,” he said Friday. “All I hope to accomplish is to get the Legislature to obey the law they passed.”

The Attorney General’s Office defends legislators in such lawsuits. Charles Dow, director of communications for the Attorney General’s Office, confirmed Friday he had received a copy of Landry’s complaint. “The matter will be resolved in the courts, not in the press, and we’re confident the court will vindicate the legislators involved,” Dow said.

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