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OPEGA To Investigate LePage Administration Over Diversion Of State-Owned Timber

Danny McL

The Legislature’s watchdog agency will be briefed Monday on the LePage administration's decision to divert wood that has been harvested on public lands from a company critical of the governor's position on tariffs.

The Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability (OPEGA) is investigating the timber diversion that took place earlier this year.

It's trying to determine what motivated the administration's decision to send lumber shipments that were supposed to go to mills owned by Jason and Chris Brochu to mills owned by a Canadian company.

Some lawmakers are concerned that the administration retaliated against the Brochus, who had criticized Republican Gov. Paul LePage for opposing tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber imposed by the Trump administration.

LePage has said his administration diverted the lumber because the Canadian-owned mill was in danger of shutting down, but the owner of the mill later told Maine Public Radio that his company never requested those shipments.