The posting atop the Maine Republican Party’s Facebook page said it all – at least until they deleted it.

It linked to a story headlined: “Maine Housing Executive Director Dale McCormick Resigns After Serving Seven Years.”

Just above that appeared the GOP’s ever-so-dignified reaction: “Nah nah nah nah … Nah nah nah nah … Hey hey hey … Goodbye.”

Hey, at least they’re being honest.

If only we could say the same for state Treasurer (and U.S. Senate wannabe) Bruce Poliquin, who insisted during an appearance on WGAN radio Thursday morning that McCormick’s abrupt departure this week was, whaddya call it, strictly business.

“This has never been about politics. It’s never been about personalities, it’s never been about other agendas,” Poliquin claimed.


Right. Nor is there anything political about that clumsy cutout of McCormick that still sits like a hunting trophy atop the home page of The Maine Wire, the anything-but-news service operated by the anything-but-transparent Maine Heritage Policy Center.

“McCormick and Company,” trumpets the link to the 35 (and counting) hatchet jobs The Maine Wire has performed on its favorite target since last October.

Well, pop the corks and light up the stogies – the witch hunt worked!

McCormick, who’d be a wealthy woman if she had a nickel for every time Poliquin and Maine State Housing Authority board Chairman Peter Anastos cut her off in mid-sentence in recent months as she tried to answer their rapid-fire questions, is gone.

And Poliquin and Anastos – one in love with the sound of his own voice, the other incapable of chairing a board meeting without someone (himself included) hollering – can now bask in the adoration of a conservative base perpetually stuck on “angry.”

“I have high endurance. I’m not a quitter. I’m a terrier. So if it was a matter of just that, I could (battle on),” McCormick said in an interview Wednesday.


So why leave now?

Two reasons, she replied.

One was the inevitability of it all – with the Republican-controlled Legislature poised to pass a bill to enable MaineHousing’s board to fire her midway through her four-year term, McCormick knew it was only a matter of time before the board sent her packing.

And the other reason?

“To bring peace,” she said.

The endless Freedom of Access requests by the Maine Heritage Policy Center, the hostile board, the ongoing audits by the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability, as well as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, “really almost ground us to a halt,” McCormick said.


Those audits, predict her most vocal detractors, will prove that MaineHousing under McCormick was akin to the Maine Turnpike Authority under Paul Violette.

That’s right, they insist – McCormick is no better than the guy who awaits sentencing for personally stealing upward of $230,000 in turnpike funds from 2003 to 2010.

Well, here’s another prediction – the audits will prove them dead wrong. McCormick is no thief.

And while the number crunchers always snag on something (Supermarket gift cards for employees in lieu of raises? Someone convene a grand jury!), promises of a full-blown scandal at MaineHousing are fueled not by facts, but by the vapors of wishful thinking.

McCormick, who served as a Democrat in the Maine Senate and later as state treasurer before taking over MaineHousing in 2005, harbors no doubt that the harder her detractors roughed her up, the better life was for them.

“The more they can keep up this drumbeat of criticism, the more points they score, the more money they raise, the more people they turn out for elections, the more they undermine Democratic Party ideals and goals of serving people,” she said.


She also knows that “as a woman and a lesbian,” she didn’t exactly fit her critics’ profile for the head of an agency that oversees $1.6 billion in outstanding public housing bonds.

“In the new board members’ eyes, those were strikes against me,” she observed. “Nothing I could say would be believed or was worth listening to. I didn’t have the ‘gravitas.’”

But what McCormick had – and still has – is her integrity. Not to mention enough expertise to know that some big changes are in the offing for an agency that for four decades has provided decent, affordable housing all over Maine without so much as a whiff of scandal.

Don Gean is halfway through his second term as a MaineHousing commissioner.

Since Poliquin, Anastos and three other recent appointees of Gov. Paul LePage came on board last year, Gean said, he’s heard a lot of rhetoric but seen precious little in the way of actual progress.

“All I’ve seen is one agenda – and that is, ‘Get Dale out of there,’ ” Gean said Thursday.


“Now I think we’ll get to see what that other agenda is.”

Here’s a hint: Where once MaineHousing looked favorably on nonprofits to complete housing projects with an eye toward community integration, historic preservation and local economic development, MaineHousing’s project-scoring system now is swinging decidedly toward private developers motivated first and foremost by their own profit margins.

Put more simply, this is about far more than self-righteous claims by Poliquin and his pals that they only want to put more roofs over more poor Mainers’ heads.

This is about money – and oodles of it.

And yes, it’s about politics.

Contacted Thursday afternoon, Maine Republican Party Executive Director Michael Quatrano said the “Nah nah nah nah …” posting about McCormick’s resignation was written by “one of our activists (who) thought they were being funny.” (Hmmm … anyone seen GOP Chairman Charlie Webster lately?)


“We took it down,” Quatrano confirmed. “We thought it was in poor taste and we’re probably going to put something out to retract it very shortly.”

While they’re at it, they might take a second look at this bit of self-congratulation on the party’s Facebook page by freshman state Rep. Beth O’Connor.

In January, the Republican tea party activist from Berwick dutifully joined a group of GOP lawmakers in calling for yet another investigation of MaineHousing by Attorney General William Schneider.

“I would like to think that I was instrumental in Dale McCormick stepping down!!!!!” O’Connor boasted on Facebook.

Instrumental? No doubt.

They’re playing her like a fiddle.

Columnist Bill Nemitz can be contacted at 791-6323 or at:

[email protected]

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