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.

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Minnesota delegation asks for meeting with VA secretary

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: September 30, 2014 - 10:12 AM

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."


Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/living/health-fitness/article2271423.html#storylink=cpy

Justice Department to expand outreach to Twin Cities in expanded effort to halt ISIS recruitment

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: September 17, 2014 - 9:19 PM

WASHINGTON -- The Twin Cities were one of three muncipalities in the country that will participate in a pilot program to boost outreach in the Islamic community in effort to combat recruitment of naturalized Americans by the terrorist group ISIL, Department of Justice officials said Wednesday.

The pilot project will "bring together important Minnesota law enforcement, religious, and community leaders to expand outreach to Minnesotans," according to Sen. Al Franken's office, which has urged the Obama administration to deliver additional resources to Minnesota.

Two men with Minnesota ties were killed fighting for ISIL, or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, in the Middle East.

Rep. Keith Ellison, a Democrat who represents Minneapolis, has also encouraged administration officials to work with the Somali community because they can be allies in identifying vulnerable young people who can become radicalized, he said.

US Attorney for Minnesota Andy Luger, issued a statement late Wednesday: 

"The Somali community in Minneapolis and St. Paul will benefit greatly from the additional resources we expect to receive as part of the pilot program," he said. "Our Somali friends deserve to prosper in Minnesota in peace and security, and this program seeks to make that happen, and create a blueprint for the country for how to prevent the radicalization of vulnerable youth."

Party line splits on House approval to arm Syrian rebels

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: September 18, 2014 - 12:42 PM

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."

Nolan uttered a similar sentiment on the House floor Tuesday. His impassioned speech earned him exposure on the CBS morning news.

"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.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar heading to Iowa to talk to Dems

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: September 16, 2014 - 3:34 PM

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Amy Klobuchar is heading to Iowa to headline Iowa's Jefferson Jackson dinner -- an annual fundraising gathering for Democrats.

Klobuchar is no stranger to the state crucial to presidential hopefuls. She frequently darts down there for fundraisers and was there last month campaigning for Rep. Bruce Braley, a U.S. Senate candidate.

Klobuchar aide Justin Buoen said in a statement, “Minnesota and Iowa have a lot in common--from our strong farm economies to our shared belief in education for all.  With her work on the farm bill and middle class issues, Sen. Klobuchar is a great choice for the Iowa Democratic dinner.“

Iowa Democratic party chair Scott Brennan said in a release, according to the Des Moines Register: "We invited Sen. Klobuchar because she's a great speaker and a strong advocate for our candidates and we're pleased she's joining us to support our Iowa Democrats at this year's Jefferson Jackson Dinner."

White House: We're reaching out to the American Muslim community for help denoucing ISIL

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: September 12, 2014 - 5:48 AM

WASHINGTON -- Obama administration officials are engaged in reaching out to Muslim communities across the United States -- including Minnesota -- to try and get them to speak up if they see radicalization taking place.

Speaking to reporters Thursday, Phil Gordon, White House coordinator for the Middle East, said officials "were very attuned" to ISIL's propoganda machine -- on social and print media -- that has tempted some young American muslims to join the movement in the Middle East.

ISIL is a growing Islamist terrorist army in Iraq and Syria that is actively recruiting soldiers in Europe and the United States, including Minnesota.
 
The two confirmed Americans who have died fighting with the terror group had Minnesota connections. A federal grand jury in St. Paul is investigating a group of Somali-Americans who were allegedly conspiring to join terrorists fighting in Syria.
 
Both Democratic Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar have called on the Justice Department to fortify resources in Minnesota as details emerge that between 20 and 30 Minnesotans have been actively recruited by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Gordon said more European youth have been recruited to fight with ISIL than Americans.

"We  have obviously been reaching out to American Muslim communities who are overwhelmingly supportive of our efforts to denouce ISIL and show it for what it is and encourage them to speak up so that we minimize this risk that some Muslims are susceptible to this propoganda," he said.

Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison, who represents Minneapolis with its large Somali community,  has encouraged the administration to work with residents there.

"I am one who believes that you need to counter this in a calm, methodical way," Ellison said earlier this week in an interview. 

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