AUGUSTA — A new video posted online today by James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas received less fanfare from conservatives than a similar recording revealed last week.

The Maine Heritage Policy Center issued a press release maintaining that Maine’s system is vulnerable to fraud, but offered praise for the Department of Health and Human Services worker in Portland who was secretly videotaped, saying she is “obviously very well trained and knowledgeable.”

The latest 40-minute video, labeled as taking place at a DHHS office in Portland, can be viewed here. It shows an unidentified DHHS worker methodically going through the MaineCare benefits and eligibility requirements and the same actor from the first video leaving the office with no benefits.

Last week, a similar video by O’Keefe’s group that was shared with the conservative group Americans For Prosperity of Maine was unveiled at a State House news conference.

The group, along with the Maine Heritage Policy Center, called that video “shocking” and cited it as evidence of potential welfare fraud, after a man who strongly hinted he was a drug dealer with a cash income was not immediately dismissed by a DHHS worker in Biddeford. The man was an actor, who uses the pseudonym Sean Murphy and volunteered to secretly videotape the interaction for O’Keefe’s nonprofit group.

Gov. Paul LePage and DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew hosted a brief news conference to discuss the tape later that day. Both had said no fraud was actually committed, but added that training for front-line workers needed improvement.

The Maine Heritage Policy Center has called on LePage, a Republican, to “improve the efficiency” of DHHS front-line workers and prevent welfare fraud. Their suggestions include creating a “secret shopper” program, a concept that LePage endorsed last week.

“The Portland employee was far more in command of the intake process than a DHHS employee at the Biddeford office shown in an earlier video, which helps us examine the welfare process more closely,” said Lance Dutson, CEO of the Maine Heritage Policy Center, in a release issued in response to the second tape.

O’Keefe, who describes himself as a citizen journalist, has been involved in “sting” operations that have generated controversy with targets such as National Public Radio and ACORN. Critics say he unfairly edits his tapes to further his conservative values, but O’Keefe counters that he always releases the uncut videos.

He is on probation for pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of entering a federal building under false pretenses.

O’Keefe, 27, said last week that the Maine videos were part of a larger, national effort to root out the potential for Medicaid fraud.

MaineToday Media State House Writer Rebekah Metzler can be contacted 620-7016 or at:

[email protected]

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