Independent review finds no problems in workplace culture of attorney general’s office

Attorney General Aaron Frey
Attorney General Aaron Frey(wabi)
Published: Jun. 2, 2023 at 6:54 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — An independent review launched after the disclosure of a relationship between Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey and a worker whom he supervises concluded the complaint was brought by a “disgruntled” family member, and that the episode provides an opportunity to strengthen policy and awareness surrounding interoffice relationships.

Deb Whitworth, owner HR Studio Group, wrote that her workplace assessment found a positive environment described by workers as “welcoming, respectful and friendly.” She said the attorney general’s office is held to a high standard but those who work there, including the attorney general, are “not infallible.”

“What we have, I believe, is an opportunity to strengthen a policy and awareness and while continuing to focus on the important work of the office rather than on a personal, consensual relationship that has found its way into the public eye for reasons only known by a disgruntled family,” she wrote.

Frey acknowledged in April that he’d been in a relationship with the worker for months before disclosing it. He said his delay in reporting the relationship was an “error in judgment.”

State workplace harassment policy requires supervisors who become personally involved with a subordinate “to report the relationship to their supervisors so that a change in reporting structure can be considered.” But Frey said that the romantic relationship “has not violated any legal rules, office policy or law.”

Danna Hayes, spokesperson for Frey, said the report vindicates the attorney general and the way the office is run.

“This report confirms that the workplace culture in the office of the attorney general is professional, respectful and guided by a commitment to Maine people. We appreciate the transparency of this process and the opportunity to review and update our policies. We look forward to continuing our proud service to the state of Maine,” she said.

Legislative leaders retained Whitworth’s private human resources firm for the review. Whitworth served on the Maine Human Rights Commission for 11 years and has four decades of experience in human resources.