FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Senator Jon Tester spoke out when VA Secretary Wilkie visited, saying he “may have misused taxpayer funds and other government assets in an effort to benefit…certain Republican candidates seeking office in 2020.”
Since Daines can’t run on his record of fighting for his corporate allies and sabotaging Montanans’ health care access, he’s turning to his allies in the Trump administration to save him. Once again, it’s clear Daines is only out for himself, not Montanans.
Daily Beast: Trump Cabinet Totally Swears These Trips Are 100% Legit
By: Sam Brodey
“That scene has been replicated around the country in the home stretch of the 2020 election, with Donald Trump’s presidency and the Senate majority on the line for Republicans. Over the past three months, several Trump administration Cabinet officials have touched down in battleground states or districts to join prominent local Republicans, frequently those facing tough elections, for press events and photo ops, according to a Daily Beast review of Cabinet officials’ schedules and social media accounts.
In an Oct. 13 letter, the top Democrats on the Senate and House committees for veterans, Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) and Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA), wrote to Wilkie claiming he “may have misused taxpayer funds and other government assets in an effort to benefit the reelection of President Trump and certain Republican candidates seeking office in 2020.” The VA’s own internal guidance on visits to department facilities by lawmakers and other officeholders states that “VA must avoid the appearance that Department facilities are being used to support political candidates or campaign events.”
Wilkie’s visits to Colorado, Montana, Maine, and North Carolina in recent months, meanwhile, provided helpful political material to the GOP incumbents in those states. In August, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) was Wilkie’s guest of honor at a ceremony dedicating a military cemetery, an event that the Maine Republican promoted on her campaign social media accounts. In Montana, Wilkie joined Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) at several events at the end of September, providing a quote for a release from Daines’ office.
Montana is unique in that Daines’ Democratic opponent in the Senate race, Steve Bullock, happens to be the sitting governor. A state’s chief executive is usually included in events with visiting Cabinet officials—but Bullock was not invited to Wilkie’s Sept. 28 event in the state, according to the governor’s office, though Wilkie later requested to meet and they ultimately spoke by phone.
The governor was also not invited by Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette when he visited Montana on Oct. 3 for an event to tour a coal mine, said Bullock’s office. Though the governor did receive an invite the day before—not from Brouillette but from a local organization—he ultimately could not go. News reports of the event show Brouillette and Daines touring the facility in what was a politically useful visit for Daines, who is running in part on energy and environment issues in this resource-rich state. “I’m excited to welcome Secretary Brouillette to Colstrip to meet with hardworking Montanans and talk about the importance of supporting Montana energy jobs and having a diverse energy portfolio,” Daines said in a prepared statement about the event.
A spokesperson for Bullock’s office, Marissa Perry, said “it’s disappointing the governor has not been included” in Trump administration officials’ visits.”
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