Why would any party, claiming to want to clean up politics in Maine, elevate a person with this on his record, to a position of power? Regardless of whether it was dishonest, or a mistake, it clearly happened and will be questioned and used by the other side, every chance they get. What did the R's gain by this when they could have easily chosen someone else with less baggage?
Do they think they other side is not going to ask questions and use it for ammunition?
Why, knowingly give ammunition to the enemy?
Someone with a cleaner background should have gotten this seat, and removed the possibility of all the claims that will be made of "just more business as usual".
I think the party made a mistake on this one, and will not hear the end of it for some time.
Regarding Dan's question: You had 38 freshmen Republicans voting on the day they nominated the speaker. I'll guess that many of them had no knowledge of Rep. Nutting's background.
Bob Nutting is a good and honest man. He lost his business and his reputation because DHHS bureaucrats couldn't write rules people could understand. Bob did his best to comply and made an honest mistake. This is just the politics of personal destruction by out of power Democrats and their friends in the media. They don't care about what's right they just destroy anyone who gets in their way.
that said Doug...it would seem that he would have the foresight to realize this would be brought up again in a negative light by the media and not run for a leadership position. I do not know Mr. Nutting and can not speak to his character but there is a lot of grumbling going around about why the republican party would put a target like that up for the media and the democrats to shoot at. This morning on the news they had a puff piece about Emily Cain followed by the story on Nutting. Most people are not going to dig into the factual details of his case and instead go by what they hear on TV or read in the newspaper, which was basically he owed over a million and only paid back $400,000 before filing bankruptcy.
What are the odds we can get some perspective on this issue? What we have here is a decade old incident.
Let's talk about past House Speakers, i.e. Libby Mitchell, who decided Maine's traditional two-thirds State budget was a bother and helped do away with it. She found that public hearings on bills are not required by law and are therefore a courtesy from the Legislature to Maine citizens. For one Session of the Legislature, at least, Mitchell was okay with turning the public hearing of bills on its head -- all to serve her purpose of ramming through simple majority State Budgets.
Libby also approved the sleight of hand creation of a new State entity, a way around the Maine Constitution, that enabled Maine government to borrow multi-millions of dollars in Maine taxpayers' names without their vote on it.
Shall we talk about House Speaker John Martin's years of rule?
For what it's worth, I know Rep. Nutting personally. I worked as a House GOP staffer with him years ago. He's a good man. This issue was resolved a decade ago. We have real work to do. Let's show Maine we can get it done and not be sidetracked by puppet shows and sparklers.
Mike: I agree with you that many freshmen knew nothing of this issue. But veterans, including the other candidates for Speaker, certainly did. If they thought this was important, they should have brought it up before the vote.
It is unfortunate for Rep. Nutting, his family, and the Republican caucus that there will be a few days of bad press due to this old story. But unless Republicans overreact that is all there will be.
Traci makes the point I was trying to make. Rather Nutting committed some kind of fraud or not, is really not the issue at the moment.
What is the issue, IMHO, is that here we have a person with this blotch on his record. Even if he was totally an innocent victim, one cannot take away what happened and that fact that knowledge of that incident is widely known.
Therefore why elevate, to position of power, someone with this in his past, therefore handing to the political oppositon, ammunition that they will gleefully use for years.
What would you call a party hierarchy who would do such a thing, in light of the promise to "clean up politics in Maine"?
Politically stupid? You bet!
This is one of those mistakes that will cost plenty in the long run. Mr Thomas goes to some lengths to let us know that Mr Nutting is a good man. That may well be but that is not the real issue here.
Very poor political judgement on the part of the Republican party leaders IS the issue.
Let's assume your 100% right. Now what? Do we move on? Do we keep trying to tear down our House Speaker nominee? Maybe we should just cut to chase! Bamboo splints under his fingernails. Public flogging. Tar, feathers. Run him out of town on a rail.
You hear that sound? That's the sound of Maine's economy coming apart at its seams. Let's deal with, okay?
Our esteemed editor muses:
"Now what? Do we move on?"
We elect Paul Davis Speaker of the House and move on. We have lots of work to do. The fewer the number of distractions the more we'll get done.
A few thoughts:
1- The media slants liberal. This is not an unfounded assertion. This is a documented fact. I believe (and if required can spend time at some point to hunt it down) but there was a study that came out from I believe Pew that surveyed newsrooms and 80% self-identified as liberal. It wasnt even close to 50%- 50%. Good reporters and good editors can overcome this bias by writing straight news that presents the facts as is. I think Mal Leary is a pretty fair journalist and Susan Cover does a nice job overall. I don't know the editors well enough to know whether they allow their personal biases to determine such things as which reporters to cover to which stories, how much play a story should get, what position a story should get, etc. I think it is fair for the media to bring up the True's pharmacy issue but this decade's old story that resulted in the closing of a long-time business has received what I see a disproporionate level of scrutiny from the press with the number of stories and the size of the stories. I could argue the placement but if I were in a newsroom, a story about a man who wants to be speaker of the house would naturally get front page billing if it was at all controversial.
2- DHHS bears part of the blame. We have an agency that was under the microscope by Republicans in the minority for a host of problems they created: money in a drawer, multiple computer issues, not paying providers timely, not meeting agreements with providers, etc. The list is long on the faults of DHHS not only in the Baldacci administration but also beyond to Angus King. We have their word that their word that this issue was as major as they attest.
3- Bob admitted that there was billing issues. I do not know how often there are billing issues that come up in the course of time between the thousands of providers and DHHS. I would love to know how unique True's situation was in comparison and if the resultant response from the state was appropriate or if it was an example of the state looking to make an example of a sitting lawmaker who had been critical of the administration.
4- I agree with Scott. Bob is a good guy. This issue resulted in the shutting of his business. When you start and run a business it is a major part of your life. He took his hit for this issue. Trying to make this a political manuever a decade later is partisan and not one that would be based in fairness ie some desire to see justice done. Clearly justice was done because he lost his business and his employees lost their jobs.
Along with Henry's thoughtful comments, it should be noted that the Democrats have not tried to score points on this. To her credit, Emily Cain has been kind when asked about the issue. I spoke to another prominent Democratic legislator last night we said he thought his party was unlikely to make a big issue of this because it would poison the atmosphere in Augusta.
From what I hear, the people who are making the most of this issue are people who supported another candidate for Speaker.
Again, with all due respect, it is bigger than rather or not Nutting committed some wrong. Whether we like it or not he has this in his background. And it is the kind of thing that the political enemies just love to get their teeth into. Certainly there must have been some other candidates for the post that did NOT have anything like this in their past, that could have done the job without exposing republican initiatives, down the road, to attacks because of Nuttings unfortunate incident.
Yes, it is in the past, but I can guarantee it is not forgotten. Here is the Bangor Daily News lead editorial from this morning 11/18:
"The Nutting Problem":
..."The moral high ground Republicans believe they occupy in Augusta may turn into quicksand if they stand by their speaker-designate, Robert Nutting."....
..."If the party sticks with Speaker Nutting, they effectively hand Democrats a case of ammunition that they will use to shoot holes through GOP proposals relating to social safety net reform and other related measures"....
[url=http://www.bangordailynews.com/story/Opinion/The-Nutting-Problem,159406]... ill advised![/url]
They have their teeth in it already and make the point that every time a Republican initiative comes up for examination, they will be reminded of Mr Nuttings background.
It seems indefensible to hand this kind of ammunition to the other side.
I would suggest that, for the good of the party, Nutting step down and someone else take his place. Better to step back here and assess the future consequences than to deal with them on every issue for the next few years.
One does not need much of a paint brush to paint this as "business as ususal in Augusta" that many of the newly elected swore to change.
I had drifted around aimlessly for a number of years lately, disappointed by how the Repubs had turned into dem wannabes in order to get elected. Snowe and Collins voting with the dems was a disgrace. With the advent of the tea party and the issues raised, I, like many, had started to come back into the fold. And then we have this which looks just like what the dems always do. And there was no good reason to do so as the party stands to lose lots more from this, in political animosity, than it stands to gain. I don't think one needs to be too politically astute to see that. I am not the brightest light on the tree and I can see that we just handed the opponents ammo for years.
So now we should follow the advice of the BDN editorial page? Give me a break.
The BDN knows that if the GOP backs down on this, it will establish that the GOP will back down whenever they get public criticism. That is why they are saying Nutting should step aside because they know, if he does, the party will be weaker.
He may be a nice man, but he recieved a miilion dollars from the state that he was not entitled to and he did not pay it all back. Where did it go?
This sounds just like the fiasco of the missing millions at DHHS. "We don;t know where it went". How will this play out when DHHS is examined and questions start arising as to where the money in that agency goes? I was hoping for more from the Republicans. My bad.
I do NOT think the issue of overbilling or poor record keeping is what is biting Mr. Nutting in the ankles and by association, those who decided he was best for the position elected to. The real problem IMHO is that he did NOT pay back the overpayments, instead filing bakruptcy and walking away from the debt. What happened to the money is the bigger issue here....were it paid back this matter could be dismissed, but non-payment by someone expected to lead the upcoming budget hearings is unacceptable. Unless he provides all tax records to show that the business in fact lost significant money during the years in question, one must wonder why the money was spent on lawyers instead of on repayment.If he agreed it was a misunderstanding of the rules, you pay back the money and are done with it.
the party will be weaker.
The party is weaker, from a self-inflicted wound.
With due respect, what I think we see on display here is party loyalty and loyalty to a friend, the first has questionable merit the latter has a great deal of value but that value does not exceed the bounds of the friendship, neither should it automatically confer pardon. Mr. Billings engages in wishful thinking when he suggests that the controversy of the selection will quickly fade - he also reveals (in my opinion) a gross miscalculation of the mood and mindset of the electorate. I agree that the Republican caucus has charted their course and should follow it, but that doesn’t mean we (individuals not bound by, and in many cases skeptical of, party allegiance) should follow them. Personally, I think they are headed for the shoals, having misread what to me was the obvious lesson of the most recent election: party allegiance and affiliation is increasingly irrelevant and often at odds with good governance.
I wish Mr. Nutting well, whatever he chooses to do, and I am hopeful that the close and careful scrutiny of political leadership in Augusta will continue. It bodes well for the people of Maine, if not, necessarily for either political party or the party system, itself.
I hope Paul LePage tries to collect Nutting's debt. LePage was elected in part to end the special deals and blatant cronyism that have characterized our state government in the past.
Collect the debt from a business that was forced to shut down?
......"So now we should follow the advice of the BDN editorial page? Give me a break".......
I only used that editorial to point out to those who think this will all settle down in a few days, that the opening barrage has just been fired. More will come, down the road when important issues come up, from that same arena, and a whole lot of others.
Francisz put it well. I think this was a decision that had consquences that were not considered at all in the interest of rewarding the party faithful.
There are a lot of people in Maine, who got very active this year, as they were hoping for a new direction.
I think our ship just got stuck on the launching ways a bit.
Folks here seem confused about the facts.
Nutting was prepared to pay the full amount back. In order to do that, he needed to have a payment schedule that would allow his business to continue operation and thereby earn the funds to pay the state back.
DHS was unwilling to do this. They made the choice to press True's into bankruptcy and collect from their assets immediately, rather than allow them to pay back over time and keep the business alive. DHS chose this outcome, to the detriment of the 23 employees of True's, as well as the Maine taxpayer.
This is an example of short-sighted, budget-driven state government department that had (has?) an adversarial approach to business. This is not an example of Bob Nutting leaving taxpayers high and dry.
This is a good test of whether the Republicans are ready to govern. If they cave and throw Nutting overboard over a long settled issue like this that has been resurrected by the hostile Maine press, there will be no hope that they will be able to stick together on much tougher legislative issues.
A debt properly discharged in bankruptcy can't be collected.
Some of the posts above show a clear ignorance of business. Money collected by businesses does not just sit in an account, it is reinvested in the business and spent on things like salaries, equipment, and inventory. The idea that years after it was paid, a business would have the money easily available to pay back is ridiculous.
In this case, Nutting did not have the money and, after the State would not agree to a payment plan that would allow his business to continue to operate, he followed the advice of his lawyers. Hard to see why that is worthy of criticism. (And he hired lawyers because he was sued and he disagreed with the amounts being sought by the State. Eventually, the State agreed that the initially claimed amount was overstated.)
By the way, I think I have had two brief conversations with Rep. Nutting in my life. I am not defending a friend. I simply think the attacks on him here are overblown and the idea that this is a major issue that will linger and hamper Republican efforts in Augusta is ridiculous.
What do you make of the decision to file Chapter 7 and not Chapter 11 - it seems to me that Mr. Nutting himself chose liquidation, and this choice came - as he says - on the advice of his lawyers.
Also perhaps you can tell us what criteria are used by the Republican caucus when selecting the speaker? I have yet to read anything that indicates why Mr. Nutting was chosen from the field.
re: Criteria. Five State Representatives chose to campaign for the House Speaker position. I lack all the details, but I know the candidates made phonecalls to members of their new caucus, asking for support. Educated guess: There were probably some in-person and email discussions too.
Then it came for the House R caucus to choose from among the five candidates. Rep. Stacy Fitts withdrew, leaving the choice among four candidates. With the House R caucus fully assembled (I think one or two members were unable to attend and had given their proxy to other members, or perhaps to House R leaders) each House Speaker had a chance to make their case to the caucus. I was there. Here's what happened:
The four House Spkr candidates were Reps. Meredith Strang Burgess, Andre Cushing, Bob Nutting, Paul Davis. Each of them had two House R's speak on their behalf for about 3-mins each. Then the candidates spoke for approximately 5-mins each. When all the speeches were done the caucus cast votes by secret ballot. All House Speaker candidates agreed beforehand that the candidate with the least votes during this process would drop out of the race. On the first vote, Rep. Burgess dropped out. On the second vote, Rep. Cushing dropped out. On the third vote Reps. Nutting and Davis were tied. They were then given one additional minute each to speak to the caucus. Rep. Davis said he wanted to be Speaker, but if Rep. Nutting was chosen, he was a good man who would have Rep. Davis's full support.
When Nutting/Davis were done speaking the House R caucus voted a fifth time by secret ballot. Rep. Nutting was the winner.
Rep. Nutting Addresses Overbilling Case
By News 13
Story Created: Nov 19, 2010 at 6:53 AM EST
Scott, thank you so much, for taking the time to fill us in on the details of the voting process.
Sounds as if Davis has no issue with Nutting as Speaker. Others on here might do well to honor his wishes.
Dan, even if the money was spent, he was overpaid for services rendered and should have returned the funds...perhaps mr. Nutting could prove the money was in fact reinvested in the business. How long did the negotiations with the state go on? At what point did he say "either allow me to pay back over time or I'll file bankruptcy"? I find it hard to believe the state would willfully give up on more than a $500K debt AND the loss of jobs and the closing of a needed provider in the community if an alternative repayment plan was offered. There are simply too many unanswered questions and the fact that many either want to say oh well he filed bankruptcy, nothing we can do or they want to just bame it on the state leaves a bad taste in my mouth. As stated by others, the significant turnover in the legislature should have been a clear message for change and this is not change but actually seems to reverse the course the voters indicated this state should take. provide all documents and historical details to the general public and allow them to make their own decision. Regardles of how small people want to paitn this one, its big and will come back to haunt the party.
The answers to your questions are throughout this thread. Read the whole thing.
Thanks, Mr. Fish for describing the process of selection if not the criteria. I'm sure I have exhausted your patience, but by criteria I meant qualifications deemed necessary for the position - if one could offer these criteria it just may provide an objective defense of the selection as it was made. I agree with Mr. Billings that the selection was made and should be honored, unless Mr. Nutting himself chooses otherwise.
Like in any election, each voter sets their own criteria.