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Maine’s New Attorney General Is Looking At More Joint Actions With Other States

Robert F. Bukaty
Associated Press
Rep. Aaron Frey, D-Bangor acknowledges applause after he was elected to be Maine's next attorney general, Wednesday, Dec., 5, 2018, at the State House in Augusta, Maine.

Bangor lawyer Aaron Frey will take over as Maine’s Attorney General this week, as the current occupant of that position moves up to become the state’s next governor.

Frey says he will bring his own set of priorities to the office, but he will continue to look for opportunities to join with other states in lawsuits targeting federal agencies and private companies that are taking unfair advantage of Maine people.

Frey says the state is already involved in suits joined by other states that are challenging federal policies, including those of the Environmental Protection Agency. He says any decisions about joining other multi-state lawsuits will be based on three broad criteria: remediation, transparency and accountability.

“Remediation to make sure Maine citizens have an avenue to get the relief that they need because of what bad actors did at the national level taking advantage of Maine citizens,” says Frey. “Transparency, making sure it’s clear what these bad actors are doing, why it is wrong and how to prevent it from happening again.”

Accountability, Frey says, means making sure those bad actors understand that their behavior will not be tolerated in the future. He says working with other state AGs allows Maine to “split the tab” on legal challenges that protect the interests of its citizens.

“By working with other attorneys general across the United States, it does allow Maine to better leverage the resources that we do have,” he says. “Not over-commit to the state large litigation that might otherwise overwhelm us if it was just our state.”

Frey says he will explore joining one of the multi-state lawsuits targeting the pharmaceutical industry, which he says was aware that the drugs it has been marketing, including oxycontin, are highly addictive. He says he will also look into joining a suit against drug distributors that court documents indicate have sometimes made more in profits than drug makers.

Current AG Janet Mills has joined several multi-state lawsuits against the Trump Administration and says she has faith in Frey’s judgment on future lawsuits.

“It’s a great job, it really is, and I think the world of Aaron Frey, doing my best to make a smooth transition there,” she says. “And I am so happy, you know, that I can work with as Governor.”

Frey says he is looking forward to working with Mills but promises to maintain the same degree of independence that Mills has held during her tenure.

“My judgment in terms of how the Attorney General’s office should be focused, it’s always going to go back to is the citizenry of Maine benefiting from the work that is being done,” he says.

Mills takes the oath of office as Governor Wednesday evening, and Frey takes the oath of office as Attorney General the following day.

Originally published 3:55 p.m. Monday, Dec. 31, 2018.