Senator Collins to Husson grads: ‘hyper-partisanship, insult, and accusation are poisoning our discourse’

Senator Collins issued two challenges to Husson University grads: stay in Maine, and restore civility and union to the country.
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BANGOR, Maine — Senator Susan Collins delivered the commencement address at Husson University Saturday morning and called on students to rise above political hostility and restore civility.

Sen. Collins issued two challenges to the graduates: “please stay in Maine,” a plea to bolster Maine’s dwindling workforce; and to “restore community, civility, and union in our great country.”

Sen. Collins said, “we live in a time of ever-worsening divisiveness, a time in which the bonds that have characterized and strengthened our country are not just in danger of being lost, but far too often, deliberately discarded. From government to social media, or perhaps anti-social would be the more accurate term, to the 24/7 news cycle, hyper partisanship, insult and accusation are poisoning our discourse, turning us against one another and preventing us from coming together to solve real problems.”

RELATED: Woman charged with sending Sen. Collins threatening mail pleads not guilty

RELATED: Maine’s congressional delegation speaks out after release of Mueller report

Collins said these attitudes are weakening “our sense of community” and “undermining our willingness to listen and learn from one another. This modern day tribalism divides society into ‘us versus them’ and increasingly we isolate ourselves from those who are not just like ourselves, wanting to talk only to those who mirror our political viewpoints and listen to the same media sources that we do.”

WATCH THE FULL SPEECH HERE

The class entering Husson University this past fall was the largest in the University’s history.

“This polarization is contrary to the foundation of our society that values experience and expertise with centrality of fact, humility in the face of complexity, the need for study, and a respect for differing perspectives,” said Collins. “Those who seek compromise are vilified and even threatened.”

RELATED: Sen. Collins and staff getting abusive calls and correspondence

Sen. Collins received threats surrounding her decision to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

“I am counting on you graduates to lead the way,” she said.

Petition to the House Judiciary Committee: investigate Kavanaugh

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While we remain focused on the growing calls for an impeachment investigation in the wake of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, we’re here to remind you about a story that’s lately received far too little attention. A little over six months after squeaking through an overtly partisan confirmation process, Justice Kavanaugh still has a lot to answer for:

    • During the confirmation process, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley excluded nearly 75% of Kavanaugh’s White House records from his documents request.
    • The small number of records that were made available show that Kavanaugh was dishonest in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2004, 2006, and 2018.
    • When a supplemental FBI investigation looked into accusations of sexual assault, the White House tightly controlled the investigation — including who could be interviewed and which lines of questioning could be pursued.
    • When Kavanaugh came back to the Senate for the hearing at which Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified, he potentially committed perjury in answering the Committee’s questions.
  • Kavanaugh reported a sizable personal financial debt in 2016, but that debt disappeared without a trace by the time he filed his 2017 financial disclosure statement.

The American people deserve answers. Who paid off Kavanaugh’s debt, and why? Did the White House cover up evidence that Kavanuagh sexually assulted Dr. Ford? Did Kavanaugh perjure himself in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee?

The House Judiciary Committee has the power to find out — so we’re pushing them to get to the bottom of these questions and more with an official investigation. Will you add your name to call on the House Judiciary Committee to investigate perjury and other crimes potentially committed by Brett Kavanaugh?

Thank you,
Team FSFP

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Maine woman charged in mail threat sent to Sen. Collins

If convicted, Suzanne Muscara of Burlington, Maine, faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

BANGOR, Maine — A woman from Burlington, Maine, was arrested Friday in connection to a mail threat addressed to Sen. Susan Collins’ Bangor home, stemming from a previous investigation into a letter received by her husband claiming to contain ricin.

Two days after Sen. Collins’ husband Thomas Daffron opened the ricin threat letter at home by himself in October 2018, prompting a multi-level police response, a U.S. Postal Service mail sorting facility in Hampden intercepted another suspicious envelope that would later test consistent with starch.

A fingerprint on that envelope led them to a suspect.

Suzanne Muscara, 37, is charged with mailing a threatening communication to a U.S. government official protected under federal law.

RELATED: Letter delivered to Collins’ Bangor home claimed to contain ricin

According to the complaint affidavit, Daffron opened and handled a letter purportedly contaminated by ricin on Oct. 15, 2018.

Daffron told investigators he was opening mail while at the house alone and came across an envelope addressed to him bearing a Bangor return address and a name – postmarked in both Tacoma and Olympia, Washington, on Oct. 12, 2018 – with a typed, unsigned letter inside.

The letter claimed it had been “coated in Ricin residue,” and said, “Good Luck to you and Susan in the next life” and “your wife has betrayed the people of Maine along with the American people and this will be her downfall.”

Hazmat teams responded and determined no ricin was present.

A USPS inspector was subsequently assigned to the case to hand-screen all mail addressed to the Bangor residence.

Two days later, on Oct. 17, a hand-printed envelope addressed to “Susan Collins or current resident” was intercepted at the Hampden USPS sorting facility.

According to the affidavit, the envelope bore Collins’ street address and a return street address to a separate residence in Bangor. The letter was leaking a fine white powder, which was tested and found not to contain toxic substances.

Testing at the Maine Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory also revealed its contents: inside, according to the affidavit, was a double-sided, Aetna Medicare Solutions colored flyer, reading “AnthRAX!!! HA HA HA!!!” in blue handwriting on one side, along with a drawn stick-figure with the letter “X” for eyes, tongue sticking out and the word “You” with an arrow pointing at the figure.

The FBI later found the substance to be consistent with starch.

A fingerprint on the outside of the envelope was traced by investigators through the FBI’s friction ridge print database and, according to the affidavit, was a match for Muscara’s right thumb, recorded during a 2013 arrest in Pennsylvania.

Muscara was visited by FBI agents on April 5 in Burlington, Maine. The affidavit states she admitted to sending an envelope by mail to Collins containing a white powder and said it was not poison. She also reportedly confessed to enclosing a note within the envelope, and recalled using the word “anthrax.”

According to the affidavit, she told the agents she thought the letter would be intercepted by law enforcement before it reached Collins and did not believe the note would be taken seriously.

RELATED: Sen. Collins’ husband says he’s concerned for wife after suspicious letter claims to contain ricin

If convicted, Muscara faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

She was expected to make an initial court appearance at 2:30 p.m. Friday in Bangor.

Muscara’s next court date is Tuesday, April 16 at 3 p.m. Her preliminary and detention hearings will both be held then.

Muscara will continue to be held temporarily until the detention hearing.

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Trump to bar abortion referrals by family planning clinics

Reproductive rights groups decry Trump’s latest announcement, saying it further restricts women’s rights.

Protesters on both sides of the abortion issue gather outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, during the March for Life [Susan Walsh/AP Photo]
Protesters on both sides of the abortion issue gather outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, during the March for Life [Susan Walsh/AP Photo]

The Trump administration says it will prohibit taxpayer-funded family planning clinics from referring women for abortions, a move likely to be challenged in court by abortion rights supporters.

The administration’s plan would also prohibit family planning clinics from being housed in the same location as abortion providers.

The policy released Friday by the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) pleased religious conservatives, a key building block of President Donald Trump‘s political base.

Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood has said the administration appears to be targeting them, and called the policy a “gag rule”.

“The implications of the Trump-Pence administration’s attack on Title X with a gag rule are staggering,” tweeted Leana Wen, Planned Parenthood’s president.

“It compromises the oath I took to serve my patiens and help them make the best decisions about their health,” she added, using #NoGagRule.

The final regulation was published Friday on an HHS website but would not be official until it appears in the Federal Register.

The department said there could be “minor editorial changes” to the regulations while a department official confirmed to the Associated Press it was the final version.

Known as Title X, the family-planning programme serves about four million women annually through independent clinics, many operated by Planned Parenthood affiliates.

The grant programme costs taxpayers about $260m a year.

One year under Trump: ‘An assault on women’s health’

Abortion is a legal medical procedure in the US, but federal laws prohibit the use of taxpayer funds to pay for abortions except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of a woman.

Restricting women

Friday’s announcement was the latest move by President Donald Trump to restrict women’s reproductive rights.

Reproductive rights groups say Trump has waged a war against them, employing policies that have harmed women’s right to choose.

Since taking office, Trump has reinstated and expanded the Global Gag Rule, which bans international organisations that receive US funding from providing abortion services or offering information about the procedure.

Trump has also appointed well-known anti-abortion rights activists to key posts within federal departments dealing with women’s health.

Last month, a US judge in California blocked a Trump administration birth control coverage rules, which would allow more employers to opt out of providing women with no-cost birth control, from taking effect in 13 states and Washington, DC.

“It’s 2019, yet the Trump Administration is still trying to roll back women’s rights,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said following the ruling. “Our coalition will continue to fight to ensure women have access to the reproductive healthcare they are guaranteed under the law,” he added.

READ MORE

Judge blocks Trump birth control coverage rules in 13 states, DC

But Friday’s announcement was praised by abortion opponents.

“We are celebrating the newly finalized Title X rules that will redirect some taxpayer resources away from abortion vendors,” Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, said in a statement.

Although federal family planning funds by law cannot be used to pay for abortions, religious conservatives have long argued that the programme indirectly subsidises Planned Parenthood.

A group representing family planning clinics decried the administration’s decision.

“This rule intentionally strikes at the heart of the patient-provider relationship, inserting political ideology into a family planning visit, which will frustrate and ultimately discourage patients from seeking the healthcare they need,” Clare Coleman, head of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, said in a statement.

‘The Maine electorate has had it with her’: Constituents turn on Susan Collins

Senator Susan Collins of Maine spoke to news media at Saint Anselm College in Manchester in September 2018.
Senator Susan Collins of Maine spoke to news media at Saint Anselm College in Manchester in September 2018.

Senator Susan Collins’s reputation for bipartisanship has brought her respect across the aisle over 22 years in Washington, D.C. But these days, the famously temperate 66-year-old senior stateswoman from Maine is inspiring the kind of liberal animus more typically directed at people named Trump.

“Betrayed” is a word that comes up.

“I used to think that she was kind of a voice of reason. I thought she could maybe go across the aisle and get some things done,” said Pam Cunningham, a Boothbay Democrat who voted for Collins last time around.

Collins’s vote for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has galvanized left-leaning activists like Cunningham, who are actively trying to unseat her in 2020 — and though they don’t yet have a candidate, they have raised nearly $3.8 million.

Early in the Donald Trump era, Collins was eyed optimistically by Democrats as someone who might save their day. But the Supreme Court vote was the latest in a string of positions Collins has taken where, after lengthy, attention-getting deliberations, she sided with the GOP. For some voters, hope in Collins has curdled into vengeance.

“The Maine electorate has had it with her not voting with the majority of her constituents,” said Amy Halsted, co-director of the Maine People’s Alliance, a statewide community organizing group that has about 32,000 members. “They no longer believe her claims to be a moderate.”

At the same time, the political mood in Maine has been volatile. The state supported Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in 2016, and after two terms of the combative conservative Governor Paul LePage, flipped the state government blue in November, handing Democrats the governor’s office, Senate, and House.

Given that backdrop, Democratic organizations were already viewing Collins as vulnerable. Now, they are trying to attach to her blame not only for her own votes, but for those of Kavanaugh.

When he, for instance, dissented on an abortion rights case this month, left-wing political organizations pounced on Collins. Demand Justice, a judicial advocacy group, launched a digital ad targeting Collins and warning, “We Won’t Forget.” The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee panned Kavanaugh’s ruling, calling him “Senator Collins’s Supreme Court Judge.”

Of course, Collins was alternately cheered by the right, which rewarded her mightily for her pivotal support for Kavanaugh. In the three months following the vote, Collins set a career high for quarterly fund-raising, drawing in nearly $1.8 million. The previous quarter, she had raised only $140,000.

“People generally like Susan Collins in Maine. I would never underestimate her,” said Brian Duff, a political scientist and associate professor at University of New England in Maine. “But I do think she’s uniquely vulnerable this go-round.”

Activists have been birddogging Collins since the opening days of the Trump administration, protesting Cabinet appointees and staging sit-ins in her office, said Marie Follayttar, a sculptor who founded Mainers for Accountable Leadership. The Maine People’s Alliance intends to knock on doors to reach hundreds of thousands of voters this year, highlighting Collins’s record and arguing that she is not representing Maine voters’ interests.

In a statement, Collins suggested she is still calling them like she sees them and pointed to a number of votes she has taken against her party — opposing the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and the nominations of Cabinet appointees Scott Pruitt and Betsy DeVos, for instance.

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“Often these outside groups, on both sides, want 100% fidelity to 100% of their views 100% of the time,” Collins said in a statement. “But I’ve always believed that neither side has a monopoly on good ideas and that in order to craft the best policy, you need to bring both sides to the table to find common ground.”

Collins also said she is accustomed to being in the public eye, “as a centrist who is willing to work across the aisle and who must often cast the deciding vote.”

But she said she is concerned “by the appalling hyperpartisanship that has repeatedly prevented us from getting things done on behalf of the American people.’’

Early on, when Collins bucked the Republican Party and voted to preserve the Affordable Care Act, Mainers gave her a hero’s welcome, literally cheering her return to the Bangor airport. But later she voted for a tax bill that would undo a key part of the health law, the individual mandate.

Then, the signs greeting her at the airport simply said, “Shame.’’

“Collins had given so many Mainers hope that she would protect our health care with her votes against the repeal of the ACA,” said Follayttar.

While Collins had long carefully honed her reputation as a moderate, Duff pointed to recent votes he views as “obviously problematic,” including her support for Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and her vote for a tax cut package that will increase the deficit.

“She has very little chance of explaining that vote in a way that makes sense to Maine voters,” Duff said.

Conversely, he thought she was consistent in her vote for Kavanaugh, which she painstakingly explained it in a 45-minute floor speech in October. “It was articulate, thoughtful, consistent with the way she has spoken and voted through her career,” he said.

That wasn’t the way that Collins’s critics heard her speech, however.

“I have never been so disappointed in anybody in my life,” said Laurie Fear, an addictions counselor and activist who lives in Portland.

That was also an ugly and trying period for Collins, who faced protesters at home and at her offices, whose aides fielded rape and death threats. Her house was visited by a haz-mat team after she received an envelope purporting to contain ricin. Activists sent to her 3,000 coat hangers, symbolizing the tools of back-alley abortions that activists say women would resort to if Kavanaugh helped roll back abortion rights.

Anti-Kavanaugh activists also raised money and pledged to donate it to Collins’s next opponent if she voted to confirm the nomination. She called that tantamount to bribery.

“Anyone who thought I would auction off my vote to the highest bidder obviously doesn’t know me. I made my decision based on the merits of the nomination,” she said. “This effort played no role in my decision-making whatsoever.”

That is heartbreaking to such people as Cunningham — who joined other Maine women to meet Collins in Washington in hopes of persuading her to vote against Kavanaugh.

She opened up to Collins about her own attempted rape, which she had seldom spoken of, in the hopes of explaining why a woman would not immediately report a sexual assault, as was the case with the women who accused Kavanaugh.

“We all thought maybe our stories would get through to her on a personal level, a woman-to-woman kind of thing,” said Cunningham.

Later, Collins sent her a form letter that mentioned that very meeting with survivors of sexual assault as evidence of the thorough deliberations she undertook in making the decision. “She was using my story to try to portray herself in a favorable light,” Cunningham said. “I really don’t think she did take our opinions into consideration.”

Ariel Linet, a disability attorney and Portland constituent who called and visited Collins’s offices trying to urge her to vote against Kavanaugh, said she no longer views Collins as a moderate.

“I don’t think that she’s taken any brave stances against her party,” she said. “I think she’s hemmed and hawed a lot and ultimately always toed the party line.”

https://www.crowdpac.com/campaigns/387413/fund-susan-collins-future-opponent

Political Brew: Thousands of bills; and the 2020 race is on and Susan Collins relys on out-of-State funding.

As the legislative session ramps up, some surprising proposals bubble up. But should they all be taken seriously? And Sen. Susan Collins’ fundraising shows the campaign season never ends.

Phil Harriman and John Richardson are skeptical about a bill proposed last week that would force a consumer takeover of Central Maine Power and Emera Maine, two companies with a combined worth estimated at $4 billion.

Former Speaker of the House John Richardson acknowledges that “CMP has some serious customer relations problems, and that in my opinion is what’s driving this bill. Does this bill have a reasonable chance of getting through? Of course not.”

Phil Harriman, a former state senator, feels “This is not this is not the direction the Maine Legislature should be going, which says to private business, ‘we don’t like the way you’re  doing business, so we are going to take over your business.’ I don’t think that’s going to work.”

They also discuss a proposal that was floated and quickly withdrawn that would have required Mainers to buy snow tires for their vehicles. Our analysts believe this sort of bill points out a chronic problem for the Maine Legislature. A couple of thousand bills are introduced at the start of each session.

Says Harriman, “Every legislator has the right during ‘open season’ to put in any bill of any type that they want. And this is why you see bills like this being introduced. They’re not going anywhere, and it makes fodder for those who want to criticize the way government operates.”

And Richardson says “When these kinds of bills come forward it makes a mockery of the legislature. What happens unfortunately, is that everybody is tainted with ‘what are you trying to do? Force us to buy snow tires?'”

Campaign finance reports this past week revealed that Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine)  brought in $1.8 million in the last quarter of 2018, following her vote to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

John Richardson says that controversial vote was good politics for Collins, at least outside of Maine. “I think that’s where she’s gaining and will gain most of the money she raises for the next election. She could raise more than $10 million for the 2020 race.”

Harriman says this is a sign that “This is what politics has become today. Campaigns never end. We don’t put our party affiliation aside and operate as Americans or Mainers anymore, it’s all about the election.”

Political Brew airs Sundays on The Morning Report

Collins on shutdown: Trump’s plan “is by no means ideal but it would result in the reopening of government, my priority.”

Collins cited a litany of problems caused by the shutdown in a Senate floor speech Wednesday. She said Trump’s plan “is by no means ideal but it would result in the reopening of government, my priority.”

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WASHINGTON — Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is coming out in support of President Donald Trump’s proposal for ending the government shutdown. Her spokeswoman says she also intends to vote for a Democratic alternative to reopen the government.

Collins cited a litany of problems caused by the shutdown in a Senate floor speech Wednesday. She said Trump’s plan “is by no means ideal but it would result in the reopening of government, my priority.”

The Senate will vote Thursday on the proposals, both of which face likely defeat. But Collins said, “the outlines of a compromise are before us.”

One bill reflects Trump’s demand for border wall funding in exchange for temporary protections for some immigrants. The Democratic proposal calls for short-term funding while a compromise is hashed out.

 

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Protestors call on Sen. Collins to end the shutdown. Furloughed workers, others rallied and marched to Sen. Susan Collins’ Portland, Maine office to deliver letter

PORTLAND, Maine — Protestors in Maine are calling on Sen. Susan Collins to end the partial federal government shutdown. Organizers rallied and then marched to her office in Portland to deliver a large letter with demands that she publicly call for a vote and stand with Maine workers who are currently furloughed.

Some in attendance are working without a paycheck, including TSA employees in Maine. Bill Reiley is a TSA worker from Alfred, Maine and the vice president of the American Federation of Government Employees. Reiley said his co-workers couldn’t join him at the rally because they were on the clock.

“They are at the Jetport,” said Reiley. “They’re protecting the flights and protecting our national security. They are doing it as an indentured servant because they are not being paid.”

The rally was held prior to Sen. Collins speech on the Senate floor Wednesday. Collins spoke in favor of President Trump’s proposed plan to end the government shutdown. The president’s plan includes three years of temporary protective status for dreamers and funding for the border wall.

Senator Collins also talked about the Dreamers part of the plan saying she would rather their protective status to be permanent, rather than for just three years.

The Senate will vote on President Trump’s plan to end the government shut down tomorrow.

Another protest rally is planned Thursday in Portland and Bangor at 1:00 p.m.

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