A resident of Maine whose ex-wife struggled with mental illness and drug addiction published a heartfelt obituary on her behalf where he states that one of the causes of her overdose was GOP Governor Paul Le Page’s rejecting the ACA’s Medicaid Expansion program, and removal of low-income adults from MaineCare.

Although Brent Singer’s marriage to Coleen Clark was short-lived, the two of them remained close. She even kept Singer’s name. And, when the 32-year-old woman who enjoyed travel, flowers and sweetened ice coffee died last December, Brent wrote an obituary that let it be known in no uncertain terms who he held responsible:

For nearly four years Coleen was in methadone clinics and dedicated herself to sobriety…[she] earned her driver’s license, went to the gym regularly, completed nail tech school, worked successfully both part time in retail sales and full time caring for disabled adults, and enrolled in community college. But in the end, Coleen’s untreated personality disorder and addictions prevailed…after [Governor] LePage removed poor adults from MaineCare, Coleen could not afford the methadone clinic…you cannot imagine how powerful and difficult is that disease [sic]…LePage and enough Republicans in the Legislature said ‘No’ to the Medicaid expansion. It is no stretch to say that but for LePage’s veto of the Medicaid expansion, Coleen probably would not have shot the heroin that ended her life.

Governor LePage (who is currently under investigation) started out managing a chain of discount stores. He began his remarkable rise to power as a city councilor in Waterville, eventually becoming mayor for eight years. He was elected governor of Maine in 2010. Since then, his priorities have been the elimination of the state income tax and the defunding of public education in favor of private religious institutions and charter schools. He is known to use strong-arm tactics to force his agenda through the state legislature. He makes no secret of his contempt for organized labor. LePage has made the “War on Drugs” a priority. At the same time, he drastically cut funding for the state’s Medicaid program, throwing 25,000 low income adults off the rolls and leaving them to fend for themselves.

All-in-all, Governor Paul LePage is a poor excuse for a human being. Like most right-wing politicians, he sees drug addiction as a “moral failing.” The fact that Coleen Clark Singer suffered from chronic pain from a limb infection, turning to heroin when other pain medication was unavailable, doesn’t seem to matter to his kind. Nor does it matter that she was unable to afford private treatment options. In his own twisted mind, Paul LePage probably believes that Coleen’s fate was her own doing – and that she got what she deserved.

Brent Singer called the governor out on it. Not surprisingly, Singer’s blunt and accusatory obituary is not the only one to be published in recent months. Two more have appeared over the past year – both in tribute to people whose stories are similar to Coleen’s. Brent Singer and others like him are hoping to bring meaning to the needless deaths of their loved ones by raising awareness of Maine’s increasing heroin problem and the lack of affordable treatment options.

And what is Paul LePage’s reaction?

Shortly after the obituary was published, the governor’s director of communications, Peter Steele, fired off a missive to the Bangor Daily News, attacking the paper for running the obituary, stating that it “bordered on libel.”

Unfortunately for LePage, it’s not libel if it is backed up by documented facts – and there’s no shortage of those.

K.J. McElrath is a former history and social studies teacher who has long maintained a keen interest in legal and social issues. In addition to writing for The Ring of Fire, he is the author of two published novels: Tamanous Cooley, a darkly comic environmental twist on Dante's Inferno, and The Missionary's Wife, a story of the conflict between human nature and fundamentalist religious dogma. When not engaged in journalistic or literary pursuits, K.J. works as an entertainer and film composer.