We would like to respond to the recent incorrect accusations about Congressman Bruce Poliquin’s voting record brought forth by several Democratic operatives in a Sept. 13 BDN OpEd.
First, we would like to thank Charles Pray and Jim Frick, the OpEd’s authors, for their service to our country. But we believe it should be noted that Pray is the former Democratic president of the Maine Senate and is a former official in President Bill Clinton’s administration. In the OpEd, Pray and Frick used Washington tricks to try to mislead readers on Poliquin’s voting record.
First, as a member of the Military Veterans Caucus, Poliquin has always voted in support of increasing funding for our veterans and military members. He supported a defense budget that increased funding for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs by $4.6 billion — a 5.6 percent increase from previous years. Second, Poliquin did in fact vote to protect whistleblowers. Additionally, the legislation he supported will give the secretary of Veterans Affairs the ability to fire or demote any employee based on performance or misconduct. This legislation would ensure that employees, like those involved in the Phoenix VA scandal, would never work for Veterans Affairs ever again.
Additionally, Poliquin has introduced legislation that will help Maine veterans receive access to quality health care in a timely manner.
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For instance, he led the fight in the U.S. House of Representatives and worked closely with Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King to ensure that our veterans in Aroostook County would be able to keep their ARCH Program benefits, a vitally important program that ensures our rural veterans can receive care close to home. This important program allows local hospitals to partner with Veterans Affairs and offer health care services to veterans who live far away from a Veterans Affairs medical center.
He also joined forces with Rep. Chellie Pingree to introduce the Ruth Moore Act. This bill, which passed the House, will help veterans receive access to health care and mental health treatment if they were sexually assaulted during active duty service.
Poliquin has supported and cosponsored several bills that will help veterans receive the care they earned and deserve. For example, he voted for the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act that will help those who are struggling with depression or post-traumatic stress disorder receive access to mental health care. Another bill he co-sponsored, the Veterans Access to Community Care Act, will allow veterans to receive health care at facilities closer to home.
As for his work on the Financial Services Committee, Poliquin has supported legislation that will increase our cyber security defenses to protect seniors from fraud and scams. That’s why he supported a bill to have Veterans Affairs issue identification cards to veterans so that they can receive their health care and benefits in the event their private information is stolen.
Back home in Maine, Poliquin has welcomed veterans from Honor Flights, visited with staff at Togus, toured veterans’ facilities and spoke at many events in the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor in honor of our veterans. And at parades, Poliquin will go out of his way to greet to veterans and thank them for their service.
Poliquin goes above and beyond to express his gratitude to our Maine veterans. That is why last January, he invited World War II and Korean War veteran Norman Rossignol to be his guest at the 2016 State of the Union Address. Poliquin first met Rossignol when they marched together in the 2015 Bangor Memorial Parade. Poliquin has also visited Bath Iron Works to tour U.S. naval vessels currently under construction and has worked to ensure that Bath Iron Works continues to be a vital part of our defense industry.
Poliquin was born and raised in central Maine, and he understands the values and traditions of Maine veterans. To say anything else is simply false and a meritless attack.
Rep. Brad Farrin represents District 111 (Madison, Norridgewock and Solon) and is the former command chief master sergeant for the Maine Air National Guard. He retired in 2013 after almost 30 years of service, including two combat tours. Matt Leonard is a multi-tour combat veteran and retired as a senior chief petty officer in 2015 after 21 years of active duty service in the U.S. Navy. He is currently the president and CEO of the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. Veterans Brig. Gen. Rob Carmichael, former adjutant general for the Maine Army National Guard; Les Gibson, retired U.S. Navy chief petty officer; and Col. John Mosher, former chief of staff of the Maine Army National Guard, also contributed to this OpEd. Collectively, they have more than 125 years of service. All are from Maine.