When RTP posted a letter written by Legislative benefits administrator Connie Ridley in which she named two individuals at the center of the InsureGate debacle, we had no idea it would lead to this.
Okay, readers. Time to make the popcorn, pull up a seat and brace yourselves. Thanks to Ms. Ridley, we have a name: “Laurie Lee” — the Haslam Administration’s executive director of benefits who gave the final official okay to release personal financial information about legislators’ health insurance plans. Just another faceless bureaucrat doing the bidding of a petty governor trying to ding recalcitrant legislators who refused to go along with his watered down version of socialized medicine, right?
Wrong. The RTP crew has done some checking on Miss Laurie in what we found should send shock waves through the lounge lizards at Legislative Plaza as well as the Republican caucus.
It seems Ms. Lee is a Democrat. But not just any Democrat. Lee is a Democrat who spent her early career in the employ of the very hospitals and medical community that so enthusiastically spent millions promoting InsureTN (the same big medical providers who would draw down millions in taxpayer dollars had it been approved). Lee was appointed to her job by former medical executive and Democrat Gov. Phil Bredesen, who was also a supporter of InsureTN.
Bad enough so far. But the bigger news is the person with whom Laurie Lee shares her bed each night (that person would be her husband. For all you perverts out there who were thinking something else, shame on you.).
It seems Laurie Lee is married to Democrat lobbyist Tom Lee. Who is Tom Lee, you ask? Tom Lee is the lobbyist for big-time InsureTN supporters like Anthem (Blue Cross/Blue Shield) and for other medical businesses. That’s right, a Democrat who makes his living lobbying Republican legislators on things like InsureTN is married to a Democrat who the Haslam Administration selected as their point person to screw those same Republican legislators over InsureTN.
An amazing coincidence, you say? Nope. While Ms. Lee has spent her career in the employ of the some of the same medical companies who were pushing so hard for InsureTN, while hubby Tom Lee has been conducting his politics as a Democrat with a capital “D.” He was the campaign manager for Democrat Harold Ford, Jr. when he ran against Sen. Bob Corker (whose campaign manager was none other than Tom Ingram — Oh, the irony). Lee also ran the Nashville mayor’s race for the very liberal Karl Dean – who is widely rumored to be the candidate of choice among Democrats to run for Governor in 2018.
But wait, it keeps getting better (or worse, depending on your perspective). When the GOP took over a couple of years ago, Democrat lobbyists who had spent entire careers trying to make sure the Republicans never controlled the legislature found themselves dangerously exposed. Some of them desperately sought out a Republican – any Republican – who would put their name on the letterhead and serve as a beard for those trying to make legislators forget the Democrat lobbyists’ past transgressions. But by the time Democrat Tom Lee went trolling for Republicans, the talent pool was already shallow and Tom had to scrape the bottom of the barrel for his token Republican. But Tom finally found someone. Boy, did he ever.
Meet Debra Maggart.
Yeah, that Debra Maggart — the former House Republican Caucus Chairman who was humiliated when a newcomer defeated her by double digits in the Republican primary. Since then, Maggart has been seen roaming the halls of LP, trolling for Tom Lee and his pro-InsureTN clients, among others. After her abrasive manner and a massive shakedown of other legislators for “contributions” to try and save her seat in 2012, Maggart is about as welcome as a hangover down at LP.
As for Tom Lee’s clients, his biggest is the entertainment giant, Live Nation. If they keep Lee as their lobbyist after this, the “Live Nation” may be “Dead Duck Nation” during the next session. Having Tom Lee waltz into their office like nothing happened is going to be tough for a lot of GOP legislators to swallow.
And that is what you reap when Democrat hacks play “too cute by half” with a Republican super majority.
Choke on it.