FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUGUSTA - In an unprecedented move, the Maine Senate today committed the nomination of Jon McKane to the Dirigo Health Board of Trustees back to the Insurance and Financial Services (IFS) Committee. The Committee rejected McKane's nomination on Tuesday along party lines. During and after the hearing, concerns were raised about procedural fairness issues.
Several people testified on behalf of McKane, noting his extensive knowledge of Dirigo, six years serving on the IFS Committee, and his role in the passage of health insurance reform during the previous legislative session. Following that, a handful of opponents testified, claiming McKane was unqualified because of comments he allegedly made on a political blog years ago.
The Committee then refused to allow McKane to respond to the allegations. According to the Guidelines for a Legislative Confirmation Hearing, "A copy of each written statement presented to the Committee at this hearing will be made available to the nominee prior to the Committee's vote and the nominee will have an opportunity to respond to the written comment."
Contrary to a statement released by the Senate President's Office, there is no "gray area" on whether the nominee should have an opportunity to respond to testimony.
McKane did not have an opportunity to respond to those who spoke against his nomination, even after Senator Gratwick was asked specifically by Republican Committee members to follow the hearing guidelines. McKane was also denied the opportunity to review the written statements of those testifying against him.
"What happened in the Insurance and Financial Services Committee was a travesty," said Senate Republican Leader Michael Thibodeau (R-Waldo), who recommended McKane for the post. "Jon McKane is clearly qualified to serve on the Dirigo Board. Democrats on the Committee know this, so they chose to engage in Washington-style smear tactics to prevent his nomination. This type of political maneuvering represents everything the people of Maine have come to detest about what happens at the State House. Hopefully, Jon McKane will now receive a fair hearing."
Assistant Republican Leader Roger Katz (R-Kennebec) said "It's hard enough to get good people to serve on these volunteer boards. If potential nominees have to worry about every word they've written in the past being subjected to public scrutiny, it's going to be incredibly difficult to attract good people like Jon."
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