WASHINGTON -- Minnesota's ten members of Congress on Tuesday collectively asked for a meeting with VA Secretary Robert McDonald to talk about recent reports of falsified records at Minneapolis's VA hospital.
The request comes after VA records showed a neurology exam for 25-year-old Jordan Buisman was rescheduled four days after his death. The former corporal had been told he'd have to wait almost 70 days to see a specialist at the Minneapolis VA neurology clinic for his epilepsy, which was the reason he left the Marine Corps. He died 24 days before his appointment.
Four days later, someone wrote in his VA records that Buisman had canceled his neurology appointment. The story was first reported by KARE TV.
The VA Inspector General's office is currently investigating allegations of falsified records and manipulation with scheduling data. The delegation, Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar and Reps. Tim Walz, John Kline, Betty McCollum, Keith Ellison, Erik Paulsen, Collin Peterson, Rick Nolan and Michele Bachmann, requested a meeting with Secretary McDonald once the findings are released by the IG.
"We are deeply troubled by serious allegations of falsified records and manipulation of scheduling data at the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs VA Health Care System," the delegation wrote.
VA Secretary McDonald, who was just sworn in a couple months ago, said over the weekend in a speech in Cincinnati that, "we know we have to work harder to earn that trust back one veteran at a time."
The Minnesota Gun Owners Political Action Committee has offered to pay for firearms training for Democratic congressman Rick Nolan at the chain of retail stores owned by the family of his Republican opponent, Stewart Mills.
The offer came in response to a picture posted to Twitter on Wednesday showing the congressman holding an AR-15 rile with his finger on the trigger while surrounded by supporters.
Bryan Strawser, executive director of the Minnesota Gun Owners PAC, said Nolan’s actions were “unsafe and dangerous.”
Gun rights have emerged as a key issue in the Eighth Congressional District race. Mills released a campaign ad this summer that claimed Nolan is among the politicians who “have no respect for the Second Amendment.”
Nolan earned a ‘F’ rating The National Rifle Association’s Political Victory Fund, but dismissed Mills’ ad as a “big lie, smear tactic.” Nolan aides said the congressman declined comment on Strawser’s offer.
“The basic rules of firearms safety, taught to students as young as 12 in [Minnesota Department of Natural Resources] hunter safety classes, state clearly that one’s finger should be kept off the trigger until ready to shoot,” Strawser said.
“It’s nothing short of hypocritical for Mr. Nolan to be photographed at what appears to be a campaign event while holding an AR-15 rifle,” Strawser said. “Mr. Nolan has specifically called for a ban on the very rifle he is holding in this photograph.”
The Minnesota Gun Owners PAC offered to buy firearms training for Nolan at Mills Fleet Farm Indoor Shooting location in Baxter.
It’s the same shooting range where Mills, a company vice president, recorded an “open video letter” to Nolan and other Democrats in Congress, advocating for armed security in every school. He also argued against the push to pass gun control legislation in Congress, saying it “isn’t about controlling guns, it’s about controlling people and limiting your freedom.”
The video, which has racked up more than 307,000 views on YouTube, features a live-fire demonstration at the shooting range and may have unintentionally served as the soft launch for Mills’ congressional campaign. He officially entered the race five months later.
In the video, Mills notes that hunters can find an exclusive line of AR-15 sporting rifles at the location. But the political point was to challenge a Nolan assertion. During an appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” said that “I don’t need an assault rifle to shoot a duck.”
WASHINGTON -- It's not often that Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann and Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan join together to support the same amendment.
On Thursday, an odd blend of bedfellows voted against a $5 billion measure to arm Syrian rebels in the fight to combat the terror group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which passed 273 to 156.
Bachmann, Nolan and Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum voted against the proposal. Democratic Reps. Tim Walz, Collin Peterson and Keith Ellison joined Republican Reps. John Kline and Erik Paulsen in support.
Bachmann tweeted after the vote: "Many of the so-called "moderate" rebels have already joined the cause of Islamic jihad. Concerned U.S. weapons could fall into enemy hands."
"Remember, last year at this time we were ready to attack (Syrian President) al-Assad and Syria. Now we appear in a tacit alliance with Assad and his allies to defeat ISIL," he said. "Today we appear ready to send $5 billion to the FSA ... The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result."
Paulsen said, in a statement, he supported the measure with reservations.
"I remain concerned about the administration's ability to effectively and appropriately vet Syrian opposition forces to ensure we are training groups aligned with our interest in defeating ISIL," he said, noting he found it "necessary to provide the president with this limited and short-term authority."
McCollum, in a statement, called the debate "rushed."
"The CIA is already training and arming Syrian fighters in Jordan, without congressional approval. How well has that worked? We are not discussing that as a body," she said.
The Senate takes this up Thursday. Sen. Al Franken in an interview on Wednesday said he had concerns about arming Syria and was still undecided.
Republican congressional candidate Stewart Mills III is standing by an attack ad that has drawn fire from a powerful Iron Range union.
Attacking Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan as an out-of-touch D.C. politician, the 60-second commercial suggests that he ignores labor interests in his northern Minnesota district.
"Rick Nolan doesn't have any sense of what's going on in northern Minnesota," said Steve Biondich, a steelworker from Aurora and treasurer of United Steelworkers Local 6115.
"Since Rick Nolan's been elected, I haven't seen him once in the Iron Range. He's gone to Washington. He's part of the problem. Jobs aren't being created. The wages aren't going up. People are having a hard time paying the bills."
High-ranking United Steelworker leaders took issue with Biondich’s claims, arguing that his statements are manufactured.
“Nobody has been a stronger advocate for the Iron Range than Rick Nolan. If Steve hasn’t seen Nolan on the Range then he has either been asleep or not paying attention,” said John Rebrovich, assistant to the director of the United Steelworkers’ nine-state District 11.
Mills campaign spokeswoman Chloe Rockow said: “Steve's comments in the ad are reflective of what we hear over and over again from Iron Rangers. Unlike Rick Nolan, Stewart Mills will put actions behind his words when he says he supports the Iron Range.”
In the spot, Biondich also urged voters to look past party affiliation when deciding which candidate is best for the Eighth Congressional District, but he’s a GOP supporter. He donated to the 2010 campaign of former GOP congressman Chip Cravaack, who Nolan unseated in 2012.
"The ad speaks for itself," Biondich wrote in an email to the Star Tribune.
Biondich, 33, also took heat from the DFL for postings on his Facebook page, including a suggestion that if a woman wants to walk down the aisle, “send that (expletive) grocery shopping.”
The state DFL hosted a rally in Duluth on Friday, with women demanding that Mills account for the content on Biondich’s social media page.
Biondich declined to comment his social media posts and directed questions to Rockow.
“While Stewart and his wife don't agree with the comments in question, I think it's hypocritical for Democrats to target Stewart here while Rick Nolan has campaigned with a convicted sex offender,” Rockow said.
Amid GOP criticism, Nolan ultimately canceled a planned fundraiser with Peter Yarrow, the singer from the 1960s band Peter, Paul and Mary, who admitted in 1970 to having improper relations with a 14-year-old girl.
WASHINGTON -- Minnesota radio and television station owner Stanley Hubbard has given more than $191,000 to federal party committees and candidates this election season -- something he told the Washington Post makes him poorer.
In cooperation with the Center for Responsive Politics, the Washington Post's story looks at a handful of large donors nationally benefiting from a Supreme Court decision, which ditched limits an individual could give to a candidates or party committee.
“My phone rings, rings, rings,” Hubbard told the Post. “It’s made me poorer, I’ll tell you that, but it’s made it possible for me do a better job as a citizen. It used to be kind of nice to say, ‘I’m maxed out,’ but I really believe that people running for office need to have support.”
Back in April, Hubbard predicted that he would use the high court's McCutcheon decision to his advantage.
Hubbard was in the news last month after Eighth District GOP candidate Stewart Mills bragged to supporters that his campaign got a television ad against him "yanked" by at least two television stations owned by Hubbard, who is a Mills supporter.
Mills contended the ad, which is spliced together, took his words out of context. Other stations continued to run the ad, which was paid for by the House Majority PAC.
Hubbard told the Star Tribune he had nothing to do with the decision to pull it from air.
"Our legal department received the complaint, and they inspected the ad, and felt that there were things in it that were out of context and not true. Tell the truth and you’ll have no trouble with us," Hubbard said last month. "Our stations do not get involved in politics, period.”
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