BOWDOINHAM, Maine (Reuters) - It is not every day that a U.S. governor asks his own state's attorney general to sue him, but that was Maine Republican Paul LePage's response to Democrat Janet Mills' demand that he release a report on the state's welfare system.
"Tell her to sue me," the Tea Party-backed Governor LePage told reporters who asked about the request by Attorney General Mills that he release the report, which is expected to inform the governor's position on the expansion of Medicaid in Maine under the Affordable Care Act.
LePage vetoed a bill last year that would have increased the number of low-income people eligible for the federal insurance program, but Democrats are pushing him to reconsider.
Local newspapers have also called on LePage to release the report, which his spokesman, Peter Steele, said is in draft stage and not yet ready for public release.
"Of course we want this report to get out to the public," said Steele. "All the governor is saying, is, 'Can I at least read it first?'"
LePage, who frequently expresses his distaste for the news media, told a group of eighth graders in 2012 that "reading newspapers in the state of Maine is like paying somebody to tell you lies."
Democrats have expressed concern that the $925,000 report, which was commissioned on a no-bid contract to a consultant group run by Gary Alexander, a welfare secretary under former Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Corbett, would also be biased.
Maine Senate President Justin Alfond said Democratic leadership had yet to receive or review the report, and expressed no sympathy for the governor's desire for more time to review it.
"The governor doesn't get to follow the law just when it is convenient for him," said Alfond.
LePage administration officials said the report would be released this week.
(Editing by Scott Malone and Steve Orlofsky)