Investigation into DHHS document shredding expands | News

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Investigation into DHHS document shredding expands

AUGUSTA (NEWS CENTER) -- The probe into whether managers at Maine's Center for Disease Control ordered staff to shred documents is expanding.

A lawyer for whistleblower Sharon Leahy-Lind says the F-B-I is now involved and has interviewed Lind. Also within the last week, the Legislature's Government Oversight Committee has asked four managers involved in the process - including C-D-C Director Shiela Pinette - to testify about what they knew, when they knew it, and whether they broke the law.

At issue is how and why millions of dollars were dispersed under the Healthy Maine Partnership program. Explanations don't exist in part because one spreadsheet in particular that existed the day before the funding allocations were announced has since disappeared.

Lind, who filed a complaint under the Federal Whistleblower's Act, says, "I was ordered to shred public documents on two occasions." She refused to carry out those orders ... and kept copies of the documents in her files. She reported the incidents to C-D-C Director Doctor Sheila Pinette. Leahy-Lind was eventually let go. she filed a freedom of information request and obtained her files ... but says the spreadsheet was missing.

"I think there's a lot that we don't know," says State Senator Margaret Craven (D-Lewiston) "Why the decision was made to shred the papers? Why people insisted when we invited them to speak to us that there was no wrongdoing and that the process was a good process."

Newscenter Investigative Reporter Kathleen Shannon talked with DHHS General Counsel Kevin Wells who says he is not aware of any investigation by the FBI and stressed no state employee has been contacted or interviewed by the FBI.

Wells did say the State Office of Information Technologies - not the FBI as has been rumored -removed hard drives from some staff computers to hold as evidence.