Poliquin blasts VA chief for comparing veteran care wait times to Disney World

Good morning from Augusta, where the Maine Ethics Commission is meeting to rule on campaign finance issues.

This marks the beginning of the commission’s busy season, when there will be dozens of complaints to adjudicate between now and the November election. Some will be frivolous and some will be serious, but all will receive their due attention. You’ve got to pick up every stitch, commission. There’s your soundtrack.

Anyway, here’s what’s on the agenda, where you can find more information about each of these cases if you’re interested:

  • Republican Theodor Short, who has filed papers to challenge Democratic Sen. Dawn Hill for the York-area Senate seat, is appealing a decision by the commission to reject his bid for funding from the Maine Clean Elections Fund. The commission denied his application after finding problems with 11 of his qualifying contributions. That put him five contributions short of the threshold of 175.
  • Steven Biel of Portland has filed a campaign finance complaint against Democratic Rep. Ben Chipman, who is locked in a primary battle for a Portland-area Senate seat with fellow Democratic Rep. Diane Russell. Biel, who is a Russell supporter, alleges that Chipman violated campaign spending laws with invitations to two house parties, but Chipman argues he is in compliance under a provision that allows volunteers to pay for invitations and other expenses associated with house parties.
  • The commission will consider penalties against three House candidates who have failed to register with the commission: Republican Ryan Brann of Orono, Republican Frederick Chatfield or Rockport, and Democrat Erik Glockler of Augusta. According to the law, they could face penalties of $10 for the violations, which commission staff has said may not be worth their time.

The Commission’s meeting began at 9 a.m. Watch bangordailynews.com for coverage. — Christopher Cousins 

Poliquin blasts VA chief for ‘Disney’ comment regarding wait times

Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin of Maine’s 2nd Congressional District announced today that he will cosponsor the Faster Care for Veterans Act of 2016, which was submitted earlier this year by Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts.

The bill directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to launch an 18-month pilot program in at least three locations where veterans could schedule and confirm appointments with the VA online. The bill has a total of 61 cosponsors.

Earlier this week, VA Secretary Robert McDonald compared waits for VA health care to the hours people wait for rides at Disney theme parks. McDonald has been under fire ever since — mostly from Republicans — including Poliquin.

“It is deplorable for the head of the VA, the institution that is supposed to be providing care for our veterans, to make such a thoughtless and infuriating comment,” said Poliquin in a written statement.

The legislation is currently in committee.

Emily Cain, a Democrat who is vying to unseat Poliquin in this year’s election, called Poliquin’s statements “dishonest bluster to cover up his policy failures” and criticized him for voting for an appropriations bill last year that provided what Cain and the VA have called inadequate funding. — Christopher Cousins

Quick hits

  • The House Agriculture Committee is holding what Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree says is the first-ever hearing on reducing food waste, an issue that she has been working on since last year when she introduced the Food Recovery Act. Pingree is expected to testify to the House Agriculture Committee sometime after 10 a.m. today. You can watch by clicking here.
  • Maine Democratic Party Chairman Phil Bartlett and supporters of equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are planning a press conference and protest Thursday against Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin at his office on State Street in Bangor. Poliquin has taken criticism since he voted against a measure last week that would have protected LGBT Americans from discrimination from federal contractors.

Reading list

Investigative report: Is Donald Trump’s hairdo worth $60,000?

Not since Mr. T has someone’s hairdo attracted so much attention, but Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has a mop for the ages. Gawker might have finally unraveled some facts behind the hair that can’t be unraveled.

With all kinds of qualifications and caveats, the website published a lengthy connect-the-dots story Tuesday that suggests Trump uses “microcylinder intervention,” a hair-thickening process that can cost up to $60,000 initially with maintenance costs of thousands of dollars a month.

I don’t really care about Donald Trump’s hair, but I clicked on the story in a moment of boredom. Before I knew it I’d reached the end.

Among the promises my father made me was that I will never go bald and so far, there are no signs of a receding hairline.

I know one thing: If I do go bald, microcylinder intervention isn’t for me. I’ll just wear a hat and buy a $60,000 muscle car to make myself feel better. — Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins

About Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.