LePage cracks down on state employees viewing porn on work computers

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Gov. Paul LePage. BDN file photo by Troy R. Bennett.

Gov. Paul LePage on Friday issued an executive order to stiffen policies prohibiting state employees from accessing pornographic material on government computers or devices — even when they’re off the clock.

According to the governor and his human resources chief, it’s a type of misconduct that persists, albeit infrequently.

“Employees of State agencies are compensated for their public service by Maine taxpayers and as chief executive, I take employee workplace policies very seriously,” said LePage in a written statement. “State agencies already have rules to prohibit this behavior at work, but the practice continues. This order establishes clear rules for all departments and employees across the board.”

The executive order clarifies existing porn prohibitions to state that accessing sexually explicit material on state resources “will not be tolerated even when it is incidental in nature, or when it is committed off-duty.”

LePage also states in the order that such behavior “embarrasses and discredits the State and its taxpayers.” Violation of the rule will constitute just cause for termination, he wrote.

Adrienne Bennett, LePage’s press secretary, said that while many of the state’s offices had their own no-porn rules, the governor’s order will set the wheels in motion to develop a uniform, statewide policy. She said that process will include the employees’ unions.

“We’re going to be working to implement this policy, and one of those steps is reaching out to the employees,” she said. “The rule will be developed in the coming weeks.”

State HR director Joyce Oreskovitch, like the governor, said that the pornography problem persisted, though it was “exceedingly rare.”

“Misconduct such as this, while uncommon, is a violation of the public’s trust and could expose the State to sexual harassment complaints,” she said. “Governor LePage’s Executive Order provides clear guidance to state employees that this conduct will not be tolerated.”

Asked whether any particularly recent state employee misconduct had prompted LePage to act, Bennett said only that there had been several instances in “recent years” but that she could not discuss particular personnel issues.

Bennett also said that additional new workplace policies may be announced soon.

Mario Moretto

About Mario Moretto

Mario Moretto has been a Maine journalist, in print and online publications, since 2009. He joined the Bangor Daily News in 2012, first as a general assignment reporter in his native Hancock County and, now, in the State House. Mario left the BDN in 2015.