Despite the fact that Rowe, in his memo appointing the commissioners, wrote that the group would be performing a “very important public service,” he now apparently supports the position that the report was not, in fact, the product of a public body.

Rowe did not return multiple calls seeking comment for this story.

“Presumably what [the commission] found makes the officials look good,” says Moore, professing confusion about why the commissioners have refused to open their files, and why the AG’s office has not gotten involved.

The MCLU is more direct about the long-term consequences of Rowe’s inaction: “The court order, unless overturned on appeal, creates a template by which public officials can dodge Freedom of Access laws by transferring their work to committees outside the scope of the Freedom of Access Act,” says Sigmund Schutz, from the Portland law firm Preti Flaherty, who is helping the MCLU with the case.

While we can lament his lack of resolve as attorney general, we can also act on it should Rowe ever appear on a ballot for governor.

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