Medicaid expansion means millions for the House Speaker’s boss (updated)

Speaker of the House Mark W. Eves, D-North Berwick

House Speaker Mark W. Eves (D-North Berwick) has been the driving force behind the Maine Democrat’s relentless campaign to expand Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.

Speaker Eves wrote a Feb. 26 opinion editorial in the Sun Journal, for example, arguing that expanding Medicaid eligibility is morally and financially proper. And, in his very first floor speech of the 126th Legislature, Eves descended from the rostrum to deliver a resounding call to expand Medicaid.

In addition to his public service, Speaker Eves has served since October of 2011 as the Director of Business Development for Sweetser – a Saco-based non-profit that receives tens of millions in Medicaid dollars.

A provider of social and health services, Sweetser offers mostly services that are subsidized by Medicaid and thus stands to benefit hugely from the expansion of Medicaid eligibility – a policy Eves has doggedly pursued, stating repeatedly that expanding the welfare program is not only good policy, but is morally right.

Yet in the light of Eves’ employment with a major Medicaid beneficiary, it appears the Speaker’s strident push to make nearly 70,000 Mainers eligible for the taxpayer-funded services Sweetser provides may be a conflict of interest.

In a statement provided by the Speaker’s staff, Eves said he would see no personal financial gain should Maine expand Medicaid.

“I have not received a pay check from Sweetser since January,” said Eves, who officially became Speaker of the House on Dec. 5.

Eves’ decision to forego a paycheck indicates that the Speaker’s office is acutely aware of the appearance of a conflict of interest and took precautions in advance of the inevitable debate over Medicaid expansion. However, it also raises the question of payments Eves received throughout 2012, when he was merely the Democrat’s mouthpiece on the Health and Human Services Committee.

Sweetser President and CEO Carlton D. Pendleton said the social services agency he has run for 35 years will likely benefit from the proposed expansion of Medicaid.

“We knew this could have happened when he became Speaker,” said Pendleton, in reference to Eves’ possible conflict of interest.  “We’re probably 80 percent dependent on state and federal matching funds,” said Pendleton.

Pendleton said the potential conflict played a role in the decision to remove Eves from Sweetser’s payroll. “After he was elected Speaker, we decided it would be best for Mark to take a leave of absence,” he said.

Although he recognizes the potential conflict of interest, Pendleton said such issues are part of what it means to have a citizen legislature.

“This is an honorable man,” said Pendleton. “He’s squeaky clean.”

He said Eves has worked with Sweetser off and on for nearly 10 years, but despite high praise for his employee, Pendleton said the Speaker has no guarantee of reemployment with Sweetser should his tenure as an elected official come to an unexpected end.

Medicaid Expansion Means Millions for Sweetser

Sweetser is a 185 year old social services agency providing child and adult welfare services to 20-30,000 Mainers. According to Sweetser’s most recent tax filing, the organization took in $63,334,255 from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012. Pendleton, who serves as President and CEO, made $296,922 in that period.

According to an analysis of Sweetser’s past tax filings, payments from Medicare and Medicaid amount to more than half of the organization’s total revenue. Sweetser’s 2001 Form 990 indicates that the organization, which files as a “private school,” brought in $49.7 million in gross receipts. Of that revenue, $28.1 million derived from Medicare and Medicaid payments.

Sweetser maintains a vigorous lobbying effort, spending $70,000 or more each year on legislative education. Although the organization has not filed any lobbying paperwork for this legislative session, state records indicate that it did lobby on the first Medicaid expansion. According to its website, “Sweetser perennially urges lawmakers to … provide adequate funding for medication management therapy for individuals who use both MaineCare (Medicaid) and Medicare.”

Following Maine’s first expansion of Medicaid enrollment in 2002, the non-profit saw an increase of 25 percent in Medicare- and Medicaid-related revenue, according to tax documents. The Medicaid expansion proposal presently under consideration is significantly larger than the 2002 expansion, meaning Sweetser’s slice of taxpayer pie could grow even more.

Expanding Medicaid eligibility as Democrats have proposed could mean an increase of $20 million or more in Sweetser’s taxpayer-funded revenue stream, as Medicaid would pay for up to 70,000 new taxpayer-funded clients.

Republican lawmakers are investigating whether to pursue a formal ethics complaint, but time may be running out.

State House sources said Sunday night that a vote on the Democratic proposal to expand Medicaid is imminent and could come as early as Monday or Tuesday.

UPDATE: The House voted 89-51 Monday morning to pass legislation (L.D. 1066) that will expand Medicaid. 

S.E. Robinson
Maine Wire Reporter


  1. What else did you research? This article needs more does or will he consult for his previous employer, will he receive any post employment benefts, etc.

  2. Already nearly 3 times as many on Medicaid (Maine Care) as New Hampshire, with similar population, and the Dem’s are pushing to get even able-bodied adults into the program – on the backs of hard working taxpayers? Not ethical, Mr. Speaker! Your Oath of Office is to support the Constitution, not support the total population! What ever happened to the moral self responsibility that Mainers used to have?

  3. the fact that this person is pushing so hard for something that ” doesn’t benefit him anymore” but would have and still could if there were a couple pieces of paper to run a shell corp. and anonymous donations can easily be put in his pocket. I don’t like the how close he is involved with this. Plus he doesn’t speak for me in his views on how to help the people of maine.

  4. There certainly has been a conflict of interest and appears there may still be. Eves should recuse himself during any discussion, debate or vote on Medicaid if he has any intention of returning to Sweetster.

  5. Bravo, Steve Robinson.Your continued, excellent work exposing the nefarious underbelly of Maine Democratic conflicts is much appreciated.

    The Democrats are awfully fond of double-teaming and scheming on the “get more public money” agenda.

    It’s not enough that Maine Democratic Party Chair Ben Grant is an attorney who works closely with Maine’s public sector unions. It’s not even enough that Maine’s Congresswoman and her billionaire husband own the largest newspaper chain in Maine.

    No — the Democrats don’t stop with those trifling sorts of ethical conflicts — if there’s a way to get more public tax money themselves, and tout for more of that public money on the state level at the same time, they will do it.

    Eves should either sever all ties with Sweetser, or quit campaigning to get them more money from Medicaid. He never should have been touting for the Medicaid expansion in the first place, as an employee of Sweetser.

    Do these people have ANY shred of ethics or conscience?

  6. Why aren’t more people speaking up about this ? This man should be put on the spot and tell him to tell all Mainers who don’t what any more Medicaid for people who don’t need it because they are to lazy to work !

  7. Pendleton mentioned the inherent conflict of a citizen legislature. We want legislators who have to go to work in the community. The New Hampshire model of only 2 week sessions shows it can work well.

  8. Hi!

    If this is true, then it is a major conflict of interest.

    “This state” as mentioned in Title 19, MRS, is nothing more than a “territory of the United States” which is a reduced status than the “original” State of Maine which is a free and independent state.

    In other words, federal laws supersede state laws. All fraud, of course.

    Furthermore, in 1909 the “enacting clause” here in Maine was changed so our “republic” was changed into a democracy which means “mob rule.”

    The legislature had NO delegation of authority to create a “resolve” and allow the people to vote on it plus had no authority to “weaken” itself by this resolve.

    59% of the people can vote away their rights plus the rights of the remaining 49% and, this is outright fraud.

    This is majority rule otherwise known as “mob rule.”

    In a republic the people vote to have representatives represent them for the benefit of all people and not just some of the people.

    “This state” that is in operation today is a de facto state.

    In 1930 a major overhaul of the court system took place whereby the de facto state took charge of all the courts and established a “state-wide court system.”

    The “original” constitutional courts were courts created “within and for the county” which is “local control” but today the fake courts operate “within the county but NOT for the county,” and NONE of the so-called judges are commissioned judges.

    The commission is what “vests the office, a public office, and if you don’t have a commission, then you do not operate from a public office, which is a place of trust and the constitutional judges are trustees of the people, do not possess any judicial powers and immunity, and they are nothing more than “mere” employees known as Administrative Law judges otherwise known as “hearing examiners.” These fake judges can’t even hear a case to start with as they are de facto judges.

    Most people lose in these fake courts, and they are designed for the people to lose. The fake judges are the enemy of the people who enter these de facto courts, and you are walking into the lion’s den where the fake judge will have you for lunch.

    It is a very dangerous place to enter.

    Is it any wonder that the people are cheated in “this state,” a de facto state, at any level regarding the departments of the fake legislature, fake judiciary, and the fake executive?

    Lastly, the same thing will happen if and when these “charter schools” take control of our school system which is state-wide control. In other words, the elected school board will disappear and local control will go out the window with it.

    Read Charlotte Iserbyt’s book “The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America” which the federal government created in the first place and now wants to create a state-wide school system with NO local control. Her website is by the same name or use a search engine to find it.

    The charter school idea all look nice and sound nice but it will be horrendous to our children.

    The fake courts don’t work in favor of the people, and eventually over time these charter schools won’t either, and there will be NO say in how they are operated since there will be NO more school board members to gripe to.

    Thank you!

    Lise from Maine.

  9. Eves is simply following the tried and true career enhancement path of many of his Democrat brethren. A surprising number of them have had management positions with a variety of government funded social service agencies.

    Last time I saw a Sweetser annual report, nearly 90% of their revenue was coming from the State of Maine. They are, for all practical purposes, an agency of the State, like numerous other outfits that effect a ‘private’ posture.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if they were a key certifier of disability status for their clients.

    Eves, though supposedly on leave of absence, is turning out to be a Director of Business Development par excellence for Sweetser and similar non-profits, without an ounce of shame on his face.

    He’s learned from the best; what did we expect?

  10. Just took a look at the most recent Sweetser Annual Report. Total revenue for the fiscal year was $50 million plus.

    Of that, 70% is listed as “from Mainecare;” 18% “from the State of Maine;” and 5% from “local school districts.”

    In other words, 93% from taxpayer provided public funds.

    Given that profile, how do you ensure the long term survival and prosperity of your organization?

  11. Quite succinctly, Mark Eves is not employed by Sweetser. As a social services organization, we have provided an invaluable service to Mainers for 185 years. Just like all others providing healthcare services, we receive funding from government sources and any attempt to draw lines between current legislation and a relationship we have had with a former employee is simply untrue.

  12. Sweetser is a “private school” while accepting billions of dollars from the Federal and Maine Government? Thanks Maine Wire for this report, I hope there is an investigation into the obvious conflict of interest with Speaker Eves!

  13. Seriously?…the CEO makes almost $300,000.00 a year of taxpayers money? I’m so peeved right now…I can’t wait to tell everyone I know, and then some!!! If Medicaid, public funding or private donations of any kind is involved, that kind of paycheck should be illegal!

  14. Will you promise to not hire him, or any family member or his spouse or enter into any consulting or contractual relationship with him, his spouse or family member? And, if you do, do you promise to not accept a dime in state fu ding over what you received as an average of the last 3-5 years? That would prove there is no anticipation of preferential treatment in exchange he for preferential treatment.

  15. Notice how Eves says he has “not received a paycheck” since January.

    Interesting couching of terms.

    Not receiving a paycheck is not necessarily tantamount to continue receiving fringe benefits, such as health insurance, retirement, disability, etc.

    He may very well be – and probably is still – receiving ancillary benefits associated with his Sweetser employment.


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