With an insider’s eye, Hot Dish tracks the tastiest bits of Minnesota’s political scene and keep you up-to-date on those elected to serve you.

Contributors in Minnesota: Patrick Condon, Baird Helgeson, Patricia Lopez, Jim Ragsdale, Abby Simons, Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Glen Stubbe. Contributors in D.C.: Allison Sherry, Corey Mitchell and Jim Spencer.

Posts about 8th District

National Republican committee dumps $3.2M into Minn. TV

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: June 17, 2014 - 12:32 PM

WASHINGTON -- The National Republican Congressional Committee will spend $3.2 million in Twin Cities television this fall on behalf of Stewart Mills and Torrey Westrom, both of whom are trying to unseat Democratic incumbent Reps. Rick Nolan and Collin Peterson.

Republican officials announced the ad reservations Tuesday. The Minnesota buys are a part of a $30 million national effort in outside independent expenditures ahead of the mid-term elections. Independent spending means the NRCC can't, by law, coordinate with Mills or Westrom's campaigns.

The move is strictly offensive; the NRCC doesn't plan on spending any money for its incumbent Republicans.

“These initial ad reservations should strike fear in the campaign offices of both Rick Nolan and Collin Peterson," said Tyler Q. Houlton, NRCC spokesman, in an e-mail. "With Republican candidates as strong as Stewart Mills and Torrey Westrom, we are going on offense and are in a great position to win in November.”

Rep. Nolan: US military help for Iraq would be a 'terrible mistake'

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: June 13, 2014 - 4:06 PM

With Allison Sherry

As President Obama reviews options on ways the United States might help the deteriorating situation in Iraq, U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan said today that any American military re-intervention would be a “terrible mistake.”

Less than three years after pulling American forces out of Iraq, Obama is weighing a range of military options, including airstrikes, to quell an al-Qaida inspired insurgency that has seized control of two Iraqi cities.

With Obama and his closest advisors mulling their options to aid the besieged Iraqi government, Nolan said he has hand-delivered messages to Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel urging the U.S. to steer clear of the conflict. Obama has ruled out sending troops to Iraq.

“U.S. military re-intervention into Iraq, whether by supplying troops, weapons, or support by air or sea, would be a terrible mistake – exacerbating the conflict and drawing us back into a war that has already cost our nation trillions of dollars and thousands of precious lives,” Nolan said in a statement.

“At this critical point, it is the leaders and people of Iraq who must step forward and reclaim their nation. America cannot do it for them, and we should not once again attempt to try.”

The office of GOP Rep. John Kline, a member of the House Armed Services Committee and 25-year veteran of the Marine Corps, declined to comment on the situation. Members of both the Senate and House Armed Services committees have been briefed on the situation by national security officials, according to news reports.

Cantor has donated $169K to Minnesota candidates in the past decade

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: June 11, 2014 - 12:05 PM

The leadership PAC of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who lost to a Tea Party challenger on Tuesday in a stunning Republican primary upset, has donated $169,500 to Minnesota candidates over the past decade, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Leadership political action committees take in money and donate it to like-minded campaigns.

During that time period, Cantor’s Every Republican is Crucial PAC has donated $40,000 to Rep. Erik Paulsen, $35,000 to Rep. Michele Bachmann and $34,500 to Rep. John Kline.

Cantor’s PAC has also donated to former congressmen Jim Ramstad, Gil Gutknecht and Mark Kennedy, who Cantor also supported during his failed 2006 U.S. Senate run against Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Former Sen. Norm Coleman’s 2008 campaign against Sen. Al Franken received a $5,000 boost from Cantor.

In 2010, he backed Randy Demmers’s campaign against Rep. Tim Walz in the First Congressional District with a $5,000 donation.

In 2012, he donated $10,000 to former Eight District U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack who lost to current congressmen Rick Nolan. This cycle, he’s donated $10,000 to Nolan’s challenger, Stewart Mills III.

Cantor has also donated $5,000 to state Sen. Torrey Westrom’s campaign in the Seventh Congressional District, marking the first time he's put money behind a candidate vying to unseat Rep. Collin Peterson.

Cantor has also been an ally to Minnesota’s Republicans in his role as Majority Leader.

This year, he’s helped Paulsen shepherd anti-sex trafficking legislation through the House.

A charter school advocate, Cantor has backed Kline’s efforts to enact school choice legislation and rewrite the No Child Left Behind Act.

Cantor and Kline also are among a select group of Republicans tasked with developing a viable GOP alternative to the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s health care law.

Minnesota delegation pushes Army to clarify new rules on sexual assault victim rights

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: June 10, 2014 - 5:11 PM

WASHINGTON -- Minnesota's eight House members and both senators collectively urged the Army Tuesday to clarify a new directive expanding legal services to victims of sexual assault in the National Guard.

The Army recently released new rules expanding important legal services to certain victims of military sexual assault, but the rules don't cover National Guard members who become victims of sexual assault outside drill weekends or military duties.

Minnesota's ten members of Congress say the directive will undermine the Minnesota National Guard's ability to "effectively provide support services to survivors of sexual assaults," according to a release.

The letter was led by Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar and GOP Rep. John Kline and co-signed by Democrat Sen. Al Franken and Reps. Collin Peterson, Betty McCollum, Keith Ellison, Tim Walz and Rick Nolan, and Republican Reps. Michele Bachmann and Erik Paulsen.

"Our Minnesota service members should not be impeded from seeking critical services in the aftermath of a sexual assault," the letter said. "The Army must provide clear guidance and direction in order for the National Guard to effectively provide these services authorized by Congress."

The letter comes as the Department of Defense scrambles to deal with the increasing problem of sexual assaults in the military. According to the delegation release today, the DoD found in May that overall reporting of sexual assaults in the military in 2013 was 50 percent higher than it was the previous year -- 5,061 in 2013 versus 3,374 in 2012. Previous year-to-year increases in reporting never exceeded five percent.

There are more than 13,000 soldiers and airman in the Minnesota National Guard.

Franken, Walz and Peterson join GOP in demanding VA secretary’s ouster

Posted by: Corey Mitchell Updated: May 29, 2014 - 10:07 AM

U.S. Sen. Al Franken and U.S. Reps. Tim Walz and Collin Peterson are among a growing number of Democratic lawmakers calling for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign after an inspector general’s report that found “systemic” problems at VA medical facilities.

The interim investigative report released Wednesday found at least 1,700 veterans waiting for health care at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs medical facility were not included on the facility’s wait list, and patients there waited an average of 115 days for their first appointments.

The report also documents schemes used at VA facilities intended to conceal wait times and concluded that the problems are national in scope.

Less than a week ago, Walz said he would reserve judgment until the report was complete and that Shinseki, the longest-serving VA secretary in history, deserved the “benefit of the doubt.”

The troubling findings apparently removed all doubt.

“Secretary Shinseki is one of the most honorable and loyal men I have ever met,” Walz, a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said in a statement. “It’s a shame that he and other veterans were let down by certain people working under him at the VA, but ultimately the buck stops with the Secretary. That is why today, I believe it would be best if Secretary Shinseki stepped down.”

With Franken, Walz and Peterson calling for Shinseki’s removal, more than half of the state’s 10-member congressional delegation is publicly calling for Shinseki’s ouster.

Senate Democrats plan to address accountability at the VA next week when they return to Washington, but Franken and other Senate Democrats are already calling for new leadership in the wake of the inspector general’s findings.

“The Inspector General’s report is so troubling that I have come to the conclusion that the Department of Veterans Affairs needs new leadership. I believe it would be in the best interest of veterans for Secretary Shinseki to step down,” Franken said in a statement.

“The VA needs to be delivering quality care to our veterans on a timely basis. Clearly there is a systemic problem that this leadership has not been addressing.”

In a statement released today, Shinseki said the findings were “reprehensible to me, to this Department and to Veterans.”

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough briefed President Obama on the report, but he has yet to take action.

“There needs to be accountability and new leadership and the best step forward is for the Secretary to offer his resignation so we can start fixing the problems where they exist,” Peterson said in a statement. “We have to do better by our veterans.”

Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan called for Shinseki’s resignation last week. Among the Republicans in the Minnesota delegation U.S. Reps. Michele Bachmann and John Kline also want him out.

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