Former GOP Lawmaker Blasts Democrats, Leftist Groups at Re-nomination Hearing

Former Republican Rep. Jonathan McKane of New Castle

AUGUSTA – Sparks flew on Tuesday as Gov. Paul R. LePage’s nominee to head the board of directors of the Dirigo Health Agency (DHA) blasted his critics and unexpectedly withdrew his nomination during a heated hearing of the Insurance and Financial Services Committee.

“There were many things said about me last Tuesday. Some of them were true,” said former Republican Rep. Jonathan McKane of Newcastle in reference to the March 5 hearing in which the committee rejected his nomination by an 8-5 party line vote.

“I was accused of misogyny, of wanting to deny women the right to vote, of saying things publicly that I didn’t say – or things that were taken out of context, and, I have also been accused of wanting health care to be more expensive and of lower quality,” said McKane. “I was not allowed to respond at last Tuesday’s hearing and I am grateful to have the opportunity to do so now,” he said.

Committee Co-Chair Rep. Sharon Treat (D-Hallowell), a chief critic of McKane who helped orchestrate the March 5 nomination hearing, was absent from today’s re-nomination hearing. Co-Chair Sen. Geoff Gratwick (D-Bangor) oversaw the proceedings and offered an explanation for why McKane was not allowed to rebut earlier testimonies impinging his character.

“Because the nominee testified first and because those who testified at the hearing did not provide written testimony, Mr. McKane was not offered a chance to respond to their testimonies,” Gratwick said. “I am re-opening this hearing for the limited purpose of allowing Mr. McKane to respond to those testimonies,” said Gratwick.

After some confusion regarding the proper parliamentary procedure for a re-nomnation proceeding, McKane took the podium and gave his testimony.

“I was asked by someone this weekend, ‘Why are you going back? You won’t change any minds,’” said McKane. “I said, ‘I know. I have a feeling that their minds were made before last Tuesday’s hearing ever began.’”

“But I told her I felt it was important to stand up to the ridiculous, baseless insults that were part of a coordinated attack from the Left,” said McKane.

McKane has long been an outspoken advocate for private market health care solutions and has drawn the ire of Democrats and leftist organizations for challenging taxpayer-funded health care programs like DHA.

Several State House sources said Democrats ambushed McKane during last week’s confirmation hearing because he is seen as the Republican point-person on matters pertaining to health care including PL90 and an initiative that broke the Maine Education Association’s monopoly on teachers’ health insurance coverage.

At one point in McKane’s testimony, Gratwick attempted to interrupt him. “With all due respect, Senator, you shut me up last time, you’re not going to do it again,” said McKane.

Committe Co-Chair Sen. Geoff Gratwick, D-Bangor, (pictured above) attempted to interrupt McKane’s testimony. McKane replied, “With all due respect, Senator, you shut me up last time, you’re not going to do it again.”

Gratwick fell silent as McKane proceeded to lampoon the three leftist groups involved in last week’s attempted character assassination: the Maine Education Association, Consumers for Affordable Health Care, and Maine People’s Alliance.

“The Maine Education Association and I have gone toe-to-toe on several issues. Recently on LD 1326 which at long last allowed school districts to look outside the MEA for health insurance,” said McKane.

“This was a hard fought battle and although the bill passed, the battle continues. I have also called them out on other issues, including their ‘legislative scorecard’ which was less about education than it was about pushing the Left’s ideology,” he said.

“I will openly admit that I believe Consumers for Affordable Health Care to be neither a consumers’ group nor for affordable health care. I believe them to be a well-paid lobbying group for single payer health care,” said McKane. “They have been complicit in making Maine the most expensive place in the country to buy health insurance,” he said.

“And the Maine People’s Alliance is another well-organized and well-funded hard-left activist group, also seeking single-payer, and I think even their members would agree with that statement,” said McKane.

“These are three powerful groups who control much in Maine politics,” said McKane.

“It’s not as though none of us have seen these kinds of attacks from these folks before,” he said. “We all saw them fairly recently, especially during last fall’s campaign season.”

“We watched good people, good legislators – Les Fossel, Kim Olsen, Ryan Harmon, Heather Sirocki, Deb Sanderson and Nichi Farnham be attacked relentlessly and painted as hard-core ideologues; in the pockets of banks, corporations and insurance companies, worked against women, retirees, the disabled, children, the poor and the environment,” said McKane. “And the attacks were carried out and funded by big money from some of the very groups represented at last week’s confirmation hearing.”

McKane, who is rumored to be contemplating a bid for State Senate, also took at the absent Rep. Sharon Treat. “I was accused of wanting higher cost and poorer quality health care in a written statement by the House chair when she knows I worked for the past eight years on exactly the opposite,” said McKane. “Obviously that is not true.”

McKane Testimony
Former Republican lawmaker Jonathan McKane (pictured above) took aim at the Maine Education Association, Consumers for Affordable Health Care, and Maine People’s Alliance.

“We have and had a difference of opinion and so did pretty much all Republicans over the past decade. In fact, [Rep. David Richardson (R-Hamden)], whom you voted unanimously to confirm last week also opposed Dirigo and voted identically to me on health insurance issues and Dirigo issues in both the committee and in the House for our entire eight years,” said McKane.

“My views were not more extreme than any other Republican over the life of the Dirigo program. Our big question was – How can you make health care cheaper by taxing it?” said McKane. “The difference with me was that I spoke out and spoke out regularly about it when few others did and the newspapers were defending the Baldacci program at all costs,” he said.

“I take offense at the implication that I would not be able to work with those with whom I disagreed because I have for my entire eight years,” said McKane.

“I am proud of my record. And despite all of this negativity, I will continue to be outspoken, especially when I see tax dollars squandered on poorly thought-out experiments that use thee Maine people as guinea pigs,” said McKane.

“It’s too bad others hadn’t spoken out earlier with some of the other quasi-governmental agencies such as the Maine Turnpike Authority and the Maine State Housing Authority. Perhaps those abuses and that waste wouldn’t have been so egregious,” he said.

“I would encourage everyone listening to speak up when they see what they believe to be wrong,” said McKane. “I would also encourage them when they post on Facebook, Twitter, AsMaineGoes or any other site that may be read by others to choose your words carefully as if they were going to be on the front page of the newspaper, as they very well may be,” said McKane.

“I’m sure I will see you all soon when the health insurance hearings begin,” McKane said with a grin. “And, on that note, I withdraw my nomination to the Dirigo Health board of trustees.”

McKane’s decision to withdraw his name from consideration came as a surprise to Democratic committee members including Gratwick who struggled to conduct subsequent proceedings despite the assistance of House Clerk Millicent M. MacFarland and Senate Secretary Darek Grant. Several onlookers at the hearing said MacFarland and Grant’s presence at the hearing was highly unusual.

A spokesman from the Governor’s office told The Maine Wire that LePage intends to leave the board spot McKane was nominated for vacant.

By S.E. Robinson

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  1. Wow.
    The last two weeks have given me hope. Hope in that there are more folks on the Right side of things who actually have a set.Jonathan McKane proved today that not only does he have a set, he has a giant set.
    Thank you Jonathan.

  2. Thanks to Jonathan McKane for publicly identifying the Big Three hard-core leftist lobbying/campaign organizations who are in the driver’s seat at the Statehouse. The Democrat leadership teams at both ends of the 3rd floor are sock puppets for the the union bosses who put them in power last fall. I would only fault McKane for neglecting to include the Maine State Employees Association (MSEA/SEIU), which was awarded a $700,000 annual windfall by Gov. Baldacci and the Democrat Legislature in 2007 when they made the state a collection agent for the union. This corrupt money-laundering scheme funnels money directly from thousands of state employees who choose not to join MSEA into the union treasury, and from there into the campaign coffers of Democrat candidates who are bought and paid for before they even arrive in Augusta. Thanks to Jon McKane for standing up to this corruption of the political and legislative process. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

  3. A huge thnak you to Jonathan McKane for having the courage and tanacity to fight for the Maine people instead of the special interest groups he so eloquently described in his testimony. I wish all of our Republican lawmakers would have his courage, instead of just a precious few. Years ago, after the 2010 election, I wrote a letter to the editor entitled “The Death of Courage” about the timidity of some of our majority legislators at the time, especially those who had written an open letter, published by the BDN, to our newly elected Governor, asking for an apology for something he said. Shame on them for their actions back then. Now I would like to celebrate the re-birth of courage in the person of Jon McKane, and a few others like Deb Sanderson, who are not afraid to tell the truth, despite despicable and un-earned derision from the current majority, who could care less about Maine people, and are all about staying in power.

  4. In 2005, when I wrote four columns on the Dirigo shambles (which turned out to be too much for the Central Maine Papers’ editors) I put most of my material together from the official statements of Trish Riley, the governor’s office, Dirigo board public meetings, Mary Mayhew, Dan Bernier and Jon McKane The last two were the most valuable sources.

  5. McKane is right about everything he addressed. Last election season, whenever I went online to research some topic, up would pop and ad declaring Farnham to be in the pockets of special interests. This was on sites that rarely allow pop-up ads, but there it was, a creation of Jeff Gratwick’s supporters. Personally, I think Maine politics stinks, is corrupt and beyond hope of redemption. As long as we are ruled by leftists such as teachers (they refer to themselves as “educators” because they are elitists at heart) there can be no fruitful political discussion in this state and business will continue to move out until there is nothing and no one left to tax. Then the teachers will move to another state to destroy that one, just like locusts do.

  6. You can find definitely a whole lot of details like that to take into consideration. Which is an excellent point to bring up. I offer the thoughts above as general inspiration but clearly there are questions like the one you bring up where by far the most vital factor will be working in honest great faith. I don?t know if ideal practices have emerged around items like that, but I am sure that your job is clearly identified as a fair game. Both boys and girls really feel the impact of just a moment’s pleasure, for the rest of their lives.


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