McCormick scrambles to distance himself. Could this cost him his job?
Just when you thought relations between Gov. Bill Haslam and the Republicans in the legislature could not get any worse, they just did.
At the exact same time RTP was reporting yesterday about the administration’s cowardly attack on legislators regarding their health insurance, the administration was also trying to call back its leak to reporters from The InsureTennessean and the Associated Press. The ham-handed hit job from the administration proceeded to go from bad to worse. Debbie Koch, who was assigned the job of leaking the info, tried to buy time when the reporters showed back up at her office to take her up on her offer to give them hard copies of what she had let them see the day before. She declined and gave no reason why she had changed her mind.
The butt-covering did not stop there. F&A Commissioner Larry Martin released a letter that said “this administration did not at any time proactively seek out opportunities to release enrollment information.” That assertion brought howls of derisive laughter among GOP legislators.
Late yesterday afternoon House majority leader Gerald McCormick sent a letter (see below) to all House GOP caucus members in what most members viewed as a cynical attempt to cover his derriere. After all, this was the same Gerald McCormick who personally carried the governor’s Insure TN legislation and who berated his colleagues for not supporting it. And it was during that battle that the administration began to selectively leak some information on the health insurance policies of House members. It is believed the information leaked this week went much further.
Why is this happening? Well the crew at RTP humbly offer the observation that all of this took place within days of the Chattanooga Times News Press editorial page taking a pointed shot at the governor’s lack of leadership, making a thinly-veiled insinuation that Bill Haslam did not have the guts it takes to be an effective governor. This was immediately followed by RTP’s own analysis that typically went (almost) over the top. RTP regrets that we referred to the governor’s private parts as “golden niblets,” which caused several of our readers to inquire just as to what the heck that meant. What we meant to say was that we doubted the governor possessed the testicular fortitude to lead. We apologize for the confusion in terms, but not the assertion.
But back to McCormick’s backpedaling. RTP’s sources within the House caucus are telling us there are very few caucus members who are buying Gerald’s new-found disgust at this administration’s feckless attempts at bullying the legislature. After all, McCormick has been the administration’s chief water carrier, and on more than one occasion has made derisive comments about members who would dare to disagree with the governor. There was already simmering talk that Gerald would be challenged for his job next time. With his latest CYA attempt, that talk has now reached a full boil.
And what about Mark “Haters Gonna Hate” Cate? The governor’s chief hatchet man has, in McCormick’s words, “really stepped in it.” McCormick took pains to note it took Cate over 18 hours to call him back over the matter.
Smart move there, Mark. Keep it up and you’re going to need a special pass and full body armor to get into Legislative Plaza next session.
From: “Gerald McCormick firstname.lastname@example.org [tnhouserepublicancaucus]” <email@example.com>
Date: May 7, 2015 at 5:05:20 PM CDT
To: “firstname.lastname@example.org” <email@example.com>
Subject: [tnhouserepublicancaucus] Insurance Information update
Reply-To: Gerald McCormick <firstname.lastname@example.org>Members,A quick update. As you all are probably aware, F & E reversed and decided
not to release the information when the media actually showed up to collect
it. The Administration has really stepped in it and I am pretty sure they
know it by now thanks to a lot of you letting them know how you feel. I
tried to call the Governors Chief of Staff last night to express what I
think is our pretty much unanimous disgust at this and I left a voice mail
to that effect. He communicated with me this afternoon that they know they
have made a mistake and they are working on trying to correct it.That is all I know right now but if I hear anything else from the
Administration I will communicate it to you all right away. I am directing
my inquiries directly to the Governor’s office as I can not imagine an
attorney in F & A is doing this type thing on their own authority.Thank you.