Mainers gathered from Fort Kent to Kittery today [February 22, 2017 ] to ask Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) to meet with her constituents during the February Congressional recess. At events held today in Portland, Lewiston, and Bangor, Mainers For Accountable Leadership (MFAL), a non-partisan, volunteer-led, grassroots group of newly engaged Maine citizens, along with hundreds of Mainers, invited Senator Collins to meet with her constituents during the recess. Mainers used the opportunity to ask the questions and share the stories that they would like to share with Senator Collins in a town hall meeting. They also signed an over-sized “Town Hall Invitation” to Senator Collins which was delivered to her state offices. Senator Collins has avoided calls for a “Town Hall” meeting with Mainers. During a meeting with MFAL members yesterday Senator Collins failed to respond to three direct requests for a town hall meeting.  

“For more than a month, we’ve asked Senator Collins to meet with her constituents during the February break in a public, town hall meeting,” said Marie Follayttar Smith of Scarborough, one of the volunteer co-chairs of MFAL. “Instead, she has chosen to avoid the thousands of Mainers who have called, emailed, written, and visited her offices.  Today, we renew our invitation for Senator Collins to meet with us, and hear all our concerns. Senator, come and meet with your constituents.”

While Mainers have asked Senator Collins to lead in Washington, she has been playing politics, serving as a rubber stamp to the Trump White House. Senator Collins has pushed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, ignored Trump’s repeated and dangerous actions threatening national security, and worked to confirm even the most extreme members of the Trump cabinet, from Jeff Sessions to Betsy DeVos.  

“When I lost my employer-based health insurance, I had to get coverage through the Affordable Care Act that would also cover my daughter’s hearing aids. She has to wear a device in each ear and they can cost upwards of $3,000. Without the coverage we have now, I don’t know how we could afford it,” said Katie Sherman of Buxton. Sherman’s young daughter would lose the speech therapy services and hearing aids necessary for her to hear and learn how to talk if the ACA is repealed. “I am so worried about what will happen to our health care if it’s repealed and I know that I’m not alone. There are thousands of parents across Maine who are faced with the same uncertainty. That’s why I’m calling on Senator Collins to meet with Maine families to tell us where she stands on health care repeal. Will she continue to vote with her party to move forward on repeal? Maine families deserve to know.”

“The DeVos nomination is Susan Collins in a nut-shell — say one thing to your constituents, and another to your Washington insider friends,” said April Humphrey of Yarmouth, a public school parent and one of the volunteer co-founders of MFAL. “That is the worst kind of cynical, Washington politics. Collins had the opportunity to stop Betsy DeVos, and her extreme education agenda, in committee, but instead, she played politics with our kids’ education. As reported in Politico, “Republicans said privately that Collins and Murkowski waited to announce their opposition once the rest of the votes for DeVos were locked up. They said the rest of the GOP is firmly behind DeVos.”

“Senator Collins had the opportunity to stand up for my family,” said Bo Bigelow, an attorney from Falmouth and father of a disabled daughter. “My daughter, Tess, with the confirmation of Sessions and DeVos, can look forward to a future where her rights to an education are no longer protected. Instead, Senator Collins stood with Donald Trump and against my family. It’s unforgivable. But that’s the game she plays.”

As the Trump administration continues to press their extreme agenda, from repealing the Affordable Care Act to pushing for tax cuts to billionaires, Senator Collins has been a reliable ally to Trump’s agenda. Even more troubling, while Trump makes a mockery of the national security apparatus, Senator Collins has abdicated any responsibility or oversight as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“Trump treats our nation’s security like an episode of ‘The Apprentice’,” said Gordon Adams, a national security expert, and resident of Brunswick. “Security briefings in the dining room at Mar-a-Lago? Empowering a racist, white nationalist bent on starting World War III to lead the National Security Council? Senator Collins has done nothing to hold the White House accountable. She is playing political games with our national security, because she is either too afraid to stand up for our country, or too complicit in his agenda.”

Senator Collins has repeatedly dismissed the massive protests held throughout Maine, and thousands of constituent correspondence, echoing the empty rhetoric from Donald Trump’s White House. On January 19, Senator Collins said that “paid activists” were “scaring people” about her efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, impacting more than 75,000 Maine families. On February 3, Collins said, “We are certainly getting a lot of calls and almost 90 percent of them are from out of state.” In addition, during the meeting with MFAL yesterday Collins implied that Mainers calling her offices to express their views are preventing disabled people who need help with Social Security applications from getting through to her office by jamming the phone lines.

“Senator Collins needs to act on the demands of her constituents to stand up to the extreme agenda being pushed by her Republican colleagues,” said Stacy Leafsong of Bucksport, an MFAL volunteer. “All Mainers’ calls to Senator Collins matter. It is her job to hear all her constituents’ concerns and represent us. Senator Collins is out of touch with Maine voices. The Maine people are asking her to be a firewall to a dangerous, unconstitutional, undemocratic government taking hold in the White House. We are asking her to demonstrate the bipartisan, centrist leadership Mainers sent her to Washington for.”

Mainers For Accountable Leadership