Conservative Maine Groups Jump On The James O'Keefe Bandwagon

August 12, 2011 5:16 pm ET — Meredith Kormes

Two conservative groups, the Maine Heritage Policy Center (MHPC) and Americans For Prosperity-Maine (AFP-M), held a press conference yesterday to release what they called "shocking" footage of Medicaid fraud supposedly taking place in Maine.

The footage was supplied by conservative activist James O'Keefe as part of his series of secretly recorded visits to Medicaid offices in several states with the goal of uncovering Medicaid fraud.

In their press conference, the conservative groups showed a highly edited two-and-a-half minute clip taken from the 49-minute complete video, which they hyped as "reveal[ing] explosive evidence of the potential for fraud within Maine's Medicaid system." However, the claims about the supposed fraud found in this video have been shown to be completely false, the stunt reveals that the conservative groups were either willfully ignorant or simply lying. 

Even Maine's Republican Gov. Paul LePage acknowledged:

The video in its entirety does not show a person willfully helping someone de-fraud the welfare system. It does show a need for further job knowledge and continuous and improved staff training.

There's an obvious reason why O'Keefe would want to connect with these conservative groups: They give his 'sting' operations more exposure. But given O'Keefe's track record, one wonders why these groups are getting involved with him.

AFP-M and MHPC answered that question when they told Maine's NPR they held the press conference because they "wanted all Mainers to know that the video reinforces the long-held positions of both groups of the potential of welfare fraud and unethical behavior among state employees." NPR also reported that "Lance Dutson of the MHPC says that the O'Keefe video reinforces the center's position that the state's welfare system is riddled with fraud and abuse." 

And it becomes even more obvious when one digs into the actual "long-held positions" the groups are advocating.

Maine Heritage Policy Center has been focused for some time on a project called "Fix the System," through which they want to "free Maine families from welfare dependency." But the project is really an effort to change Maine's Medicaid policy to impose severe measures to limit eligibility and increase restrictions on the most vulnerable Maine populations.

Americans for Prosperity has been on record supporting the House-passed GOP budget and other reform plans that would block grant Medicaid, forcing states to cut back on eligibility and benefits for the poor and elderly.

Since several of the groups and programs O'Keefe has targeted support vulnerable communities — notably ACORN, Planned Parenthood, and now Medicaid — the conservative groups' motive for collaborating with him is now clear.