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Delegates Ask State To Probe Kane Company

Four Democratic delegates asked yesterday for an investigation into whether a major office moving company headed by the former chairman of the Maryland Republican Party had violated any state wage laws.

The Post reported last week that federal prosecutors have alleged that the Kane Company and its subsidiaries for years paid its workers less than required by federal contracts while submitting "false and fraudulent documents" indicating the company was in compliance.

John Kane, the company's chief executive officer, was chairman of the Maryland GOP from late 2002 through 2006 and is the current chairman of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, a nonpartisan business group.

in an interview, he dismissed the delegates' request as "a witch hunt."

The Post story noted that in addition to federal contracts, Kane's companies have done significant contract work for the state of Maryland. Between 2000 and 2008, the state paid companies nearly $2 million, according to records from the state Comptroller's Office.

"While the work done for the state is not a part of the federal complaint, we are concerned that Mr. Kane's companies may have violated Maryland employment and wage laws," said the letter signed by four delegates, who asked the state Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation to investigate. They ask specifically whether the state's prevailing wage law or living wage law was violated.

The letter is signed by Del. Tom Hucker (D-Montgomery), Del. Aisha Braveboy (D-Prince George's), Del. Roger Manno (D-Montgomery) and Del. Cheryl Glenn (D-Baltimore).

"That's certainly the delegates' right to ask those questions," Kane said. "But they'll find there's nothing there. I would say that it's probably a witch hunt."

Kane said the federal complaint originated with a disgruntled employee who stands to gain financially if there is any recovery against his company in the federal civil filing. He maintained the company had never deliberately underpaid wages and has won awards for its workplace environment.

"You don't win 'best places to work' awards unless there's an organization where there's integrity," Kane said.

Kane also bristled at the prominent mention his past chairmanship of the Maryland GOP has received in news accounts about the episode, saying he is no longer involved with the party.

By John Wagner  |  July 14, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  John Wagner  
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"That's certainly the delegates' right to ask those questions," Kane said. "But they'll find there's nothing there. I would say that it's probably a witch hunt."

I agree with the first part of Kane's comment, but not the second part. These investigators are required to look into such charges. To ignore a formal complaint would be illegal. Plain and simple.

Posted by: free-donny | July 14, 2009 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Well whats going to happen if its true will he have to pay all his workers the money that he owes to them because if so, im looking too get paid. I thought gov't jobs were suing him but it stated he underpayed his workers. I was a former worker and part time at that working wayy over 60 hours with no kind of benefits. I feel like this company has always been a scam because of the rules they set for the employers and instead of them fireing you for unemployment, they send you else where that they know dont have jobs so you can quit. Its wrong because its a recession but hey, well see

Posted by: ajanity1 | July 14, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Sir, didn't your previous story indicate that these contracts were investigated because of his wife's role as Secretary of State? If they already faced state scrutiny then why would four delegates ask for a state investigation when state financial resources are scarce? The only answer seems to be to score some more political points in the media.

Posted by: chesapeaketerp | July 14, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

I am mistaken. It was in the Gazette newspapers which covered the fact that Mr. Kane's previous dealings with Maryland were already investigated:

"The complaint has nothing to do with $1.9 million in state contracts that the company held with the state of Maryland between 2000 and 2008.

The company's contracts with the state were investigated when Kane's wife, Mary D. Kane, served as secretary of state under Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) from August 2005 until January 2007 and were found to be properly waged, John Kane said."

How much money do Mssrs. Hucker and Manno and Mss. Braveboy and Glenn wish to waste repeating old efforts?

Posted by: chesapeaketerp | July 14, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Chesaterp, respectfully, how can this investigation be considered a "waste repeating old efforts"? You seem to state, yourself, that both investigations are completely unrelated. The on-going investigation is to find evidence of Kane's company's underpaying workers on FEDERAL contracts.

The previous investigation was into STATE contracts held by Kane's company - while Kane's wife, Mary D. Kane, served as secretary of state under Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R). The implication being that Kane's company had a "friend" in the Governor's office during that investigation. He no longer has an "ace in the hole", it appears.

I hope this man ran his business lawfully ... because frequently, companies that hire illegal immigrant labor pay those workers much less that is legal.

Again, investigators CANNOT simply drop an investigation when a formal complaint is filed...simply because the company was investigated previously for a seperate complaint.

Posted by: free-donny | July 14, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

I read the story CT posted and it certainly looks like the state contracts were already looked into. Judging by the current appointments, Ehrlich was only able to appoint two of the five and his second appointment did not come until 2006.

If Ethics Commissioners appointed by Governor Glendenning investigated John Kane and found nothing then why would it be different now for the same contracts?

And since when did legislators get to demand investigations? Can anyone imagine if the Republicans could demand investigations! Legislators are entitled to vote and what the law deems them and nothing more.

Posted by: h20andoil | July 14, 2009 9:14 PM | Report abuse

And when did the Washington Post's reporters stop doing their homework? (And a better question, how good was her scheduling, JW?)

Posted by: h20andoil | July 14, 2009 9:17 PM | Report abuse

It is ironic that John said "You don't win 'best places to work' awards unless there's an organization where there's integrity,"
Everyone who works their knows John Kane threatened employees with many emails who didn't answer the survey favoribly and had his close circle answer turn in surveys again and again. When he didn't win this year, he raged to the employees about what loosers they are. noone checks the business diversity claims, either. This emporer finally ran out of people to complement his robes. Ego=Integrity? Maybe by Kane's standards.

Posted by: livingright1980 | July 14, 2009 11:41 PM | Report abuse

H2Oandoil, the Post DID do their homework...the previous investigation was focused on State contracts. The current investigation involves a federal contract. Pretty basic.

Posted by: free-donny | July 14, 2009 11:53 PM | Report abuse

I should clarify my earlier points. I have no additional knowledge on Mr. Kane's company than I am getting from the two articles posted here and I have no position on this particular investigation.

As a taxpayer, I want Maryland to lead the way on business ethics and fair labor. I also believe that increased oversight of government contracts (both state and federal)...and have seen enormous abuse in the past few years.

While any use of law enforcement or state investigations for political purposes is dispicible, believing that an accussation of politics will get an investigation dropped is worse and would render the law unenforceable.

If the formal complaint against Mr. Kane's company is found to be groundless, his calling this investigation a "witchhunt" will be somewhat vindicated. However, any company doing business with the government and being paid our tax dollars) should expect a high level of oversight and an expectation that labor laws will be complied with.

Also, I would expect consistent investigation of ALL reasonable formal complaints, with no exceptions for political reasons (regarding ANY political party).

Posted by: free-donny | July 15, 2009 7:54 AM | Report abuse

His wife was appointed Secretary of State after having served as Deputy Secretary of State and Cheif Legal Counsel for 2 years. To even mention the fact that the Kanes were heavily involved in the Republican party in relevance to this story is dispicable.

John Kane and his wife are honest and ethical people. During this tough recession the Kane Company has had to lay off some workers, just like almost every other business in America. A disgruntled employee who was let go is now trying to get some money out of the Kane Company.

To those who state you are former employees - contact the Kane Company and talk to them. Stop trying to spark something on these comments and go do something about it.

To you users criticizing John Kane personally, stop playing Gossip Girl on and go back to work. You have no idea what you are talking about. He is an honest and hard working man that started at the Kane Company at age 13 cleaning bathrooms and washing trucks for his Dad and worked his own way up. Do me a favor and look at some of the good things that John Kane has done in life and talk to some of the 1,000 employees at the Kane Company - some of which have been there over 20 years.

Posted by: emkane26 | July 15, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

something tells me emkane26 is related to Mr. Kane...

Posted by: unrest | July 15, 2009 9:01 PM | Report abuse

well -if so- it's comforting his family would stand up for him isn't it?

Also could Mr. Kane have been referring to the fact that this ended up in the Post in the Political section made it a "witch hunt"... could the Dems have shared the info trying to cause a fuss and lessen this Reps credibility for 2010?

If the companys been cooperating with the review over the past four years it doesn't seem like he's referring to the investigation as a "witch hunt".

Posted by: DemsvsReps | July 16, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

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