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Bill to close state police ‘fusion center’ fails in Senate

June 15, 2021 GMT

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — The Maine Senate effectively ended an attempt to eliminate the state’s secretive state police “fusion center” that came under under scrutiny after a whistleblower lawsuit.

The bill to close the fusion center was rejected 29-6 in the Senate on Monday, just hours after House voted 88-54 to eliminate the center.

The center, created after the 9/11 attacks to share information among law enforcement agencies, faced scrutiny after being accused of gathering and storing intelligence on gun buyers, power line protesters and employees of a camp for Israeli and Arab teens.

In the House, lawmakers invoked George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984” and even made comparisons to Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union. One lawmaker said, “Thank God for the courage of the whistleblower.”

But it was a different story in the Senate. Just five Democrats and Sen. Rick Bennett, R-Oxford, voted in support of abolishing the center.


Maine Public Safety Commissioner Michael Sauschuck has insisted that the center gathers open-source information and is not an investigative agency. “We’re not spying on people,” he testified previously.

A separate bill, submitted by the Department of Public Safety to address concerns over transparency, was already signed by Gov. Janet Mills.

That bill requires the center’s managers to submit annual reports to the Legislature and answer questions about its operations annually.