In light of the recent reports surrounding the withdrawal of support from Governor Paul R. LePage regarding the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Governor LePage and Chief Joseph Socobasin, of the Passamaquoddy Tribe of Indian Township, released a joint statement Tuesday. The statement refutes misinformation published Tuesday by the Bangor Daily News (LePage's bully politics not the Maine way) which contained inaccuracies including a claim that there is no concern from anyone about Sec. Matthew Dunlap serving as Secretary of State and simultaneously serving as a Truth and Reconciliation commissioner.
"Governor LePage was not the only individual who questioned whether it was appropriate for Sec. Dunlap to serve as a commissioner because of his role as a Constitutional officer of the State of Maine. The Wabanaki Tribal Governments do not have representation on the Commission yet the State does and that raised concern," said Chief Socobasin. "The Passamaquoddy Tribe has had a great relationship with Matt over the years, but we feel that this position should be non-political," Chief Socobasin added.
In June 2012, Governor Paul LePage and five Wabanaki Chiefs signed the Mandate document commencing the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Shortly thereafter, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was established and five commissioners, including Sec. Dunlap, were sworn in on February 13, 2013.
"It is my understanding that tribal governments are still gathering information and assessing their options," said Chief Socobasin.
Governor LePage met with Sec. Dunlap in early February to express his concerns and subsequently met with tribal members, as well.
"This is not a reflection on whether Sec. Dunlap is capable of serving as a commissioner because he is a qualified candidate and would make an excellent TRC commissioner were he not the Secretary of State," the Governor said. "At the time that Sec. Dunlap was being considered he was not serving as Secretary of State. However, now that he serves that important Constitutional role, his role on the TRC is a conflict."
The Governor is supportive of the TRC's continuing work which is designed to create opportunities to heal and learn from the truth, and collaborate to operate the best child welfare system possible for Wabanaki children, a goal shared by all the signatories of the Mandate.