Internal emails between Vermont bureaucrats and controversial MIT economics professor Jonathan Gruber reveal that Gruber’s public silence is a strategic decision to avoid engaging with what he calls the “haters” who have criticized him.
Gruber, the “architect” of Obamacare, has been silent since YouTube videos showing his disdain for “stupid” American voters went viral last month. Approached repeatedly by Breitbart.com, he’s responded “no comment” each time.
The newly-released emails also reveal Gruber is a man on a mission. He believes he is leading the country to a historic destiny: single-payer health care.
“I am laying low on this,” Gruber emailed Vermont bureaucrat Michael Costa on November 12. “Anything I say will just feed the haters. I went on MSNBC yesterday and apologized but other than that I have been strongly advised to stay off the radar,” Gruber added.
Earlier that day, Costa had sent Gruber an email timidly asking him to explain his controversial comments.
“I’m loath to distract you from your excellent work, but this forward [of comments captured on YouTube] is making the rounds up here. Would you care to clarify your comments with additional context?” Costa asked Gruber.
Costa accepted Gruber’s explanation that his strategy was to not “feed the haters.”
“Got it. Thanks,” Costa emailed back to Gruber, then apologized for even having posed the question. “I didn’t intend to be rude,” he explained to Gruber in another email a week later.
In an earlier email, sent to Costa on July 7, Gruber revealed that his soon-to-be-signed contract with the State of Vermont, and those who would work on it, were part of the inevitable march of history:
[T]hat was an AWESOME call. Thanks so much for making the time. I am really excited to work with you all — I think we have the chance to really make history here. A central piece of the (federal Affordable Care Act) is state flexibility to go above and beyond what the law envisions. Vermont can be a real leader in that role.
The email exchanges between Gruber and Costa were part of 2,400 pages of redacted emails obtained by the Vermont Press Bureau. “I made a public records request to the Shumlin administration for the correspondence between Gruber and state officials,” bureau chief Neal Goswami emailed Breitbart News on Sunday.
The story was first reported early Sunday morning by the Barre Montpelier Times Argus.
Robin Lunge, Vermont’s director of health care reform, explained that the emails were redacted because a last minute addition to Gruber’s $280,000 contract with the State of Vermont, signed in July, claimed “executive privilege” protected some communications on the project between herself and Demoocratic Governor Peter Shumlin.
The notion of “executive privilege” in the Gruber contract first showed up on July 16, when Costa emailed Gruber. It was the day after an assistant attorney general in the Office of the Attorney General of Vermont approved the contract. Costa emailed that language stating that “[contractor] may advise the Governor on policy matters related to the project,” had been included at the last minute.
“This language,” Costa told Gruber in the email, “makes clear that we consider our work with you subject to executive privilege.”
Under Vermont law and its current contracting standards, the attorney general is required to review all contracts worth more than $15,000 and “approve them as to form.”
The Times Argus reported that Lunge said “[t]he same provision is also included with other contractors,” implying that it was standard operating procedure.
The document that established Vermont’s current contracting standards and procedures in 2008, however, makes no mention of the term “executive privilege.”
“That’s a new one on me,” Republican State Senator and Minority Leader Joe Benning told Breitbart News on Sunday when asked about the assertion of “executive privilege” in state of Vermont contracts.
Lunge went on to build an elaborate explanation justifying the inclusion of the executive privilege language.
“In order for him to run our plan through his model I need to share my policy recommendations and advice to the governor with him,” Lunge told the Times Argus.
“It’s a way of protecting … my relationship with the governor and for me to get information from his model that I can use to bring back to the governor,” she added in her interview with the Times Argus.
Governor Shumlin has announced that he will release his plan outlining the financing of the proposed Green Mountain Care single-payer health care system on December 29 or December 30, more than two weeks before he is required by law to present it to the Legislature on January 15, 2015.
Gruber has agreed to testify before the federal House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the topic of health law deceptions on Tuesday.