When will the Maine press hold Pingree accountable?

Last week, Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar called former President Barack Obama a murderer who got a pass from Democrats because he was “polished.”

This was after she claimed that Americans who support Israel were “pushing for allegiance to a foreign country,” a shameful anti-Semitic trope that American Jews are far too familiar with from its repeated use by groups such as the Ku Klux Klan.

After these comments, Omar then said current President Donald Trump was “really not” a human.

Omar is the whip of the House Progressive Caucus. Maine Rep. Chellie Pingree is a member of Omar’s caucus.

Pingree has been no shrinking violet when it comes to speaking out against outrageous comments from elected officials. She demanded Trump fire three of his aids she called “bigots,” she issued a press release calling Trump’s comments on immigrants “sickening,” she boycotted Trump’s 2017 State of the Union, and has been an outspoken voice of condemnation against Republicans when members of the GOP have found themselves embroiled in controversy.

But when a member of her own party, and a member of her Progressive Caucus, calls Obama a murderer and uses anti-Semitic tropes to disparage Jews, Pingree is nowhere to be found.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi poses during a ceremonial swearing-in with Rep. Chellie Pingree on Jan. 3, 2019, during the opening session of the 116th Congress. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Maine’s press should ask Pingree about Omar’s comments. Press chased GOP Rep. Bruce Poliquin into the women’s bathroom to get answers from him on controversial topics. It would only seem fair that someone would at least ask Pingree about these things.

Pingree is also backdrafting off of the popularity of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or “AOC” as she’s known in political circles. Pingree has used her ties to AOC to promote herself as a progressive champion, and seems in lock-step with AOC’s ideological agenda.

But when AOC claimed last week that capitalism as a concept is “irredeemable,” Pingree didn’t say a word.

The voters of Maine’s 1st Congressional District should probably know as a baseline whether or not Pingree supports our nation’s entire economic system.

Pingree has gotten away with this double standard for years. She cavorts with the most extreme elements in her party, but is very seldom held accountable.

For instance, Pingree has a friendly relationship with the extreme left-wing activists who attack Bath Iron Works for building war machines, yet with a straight face, Pingree claims to be a supporter of BIW.

As someone who has tried to gain traction for this part of Pingree’s history with the Maine press through multiple election cycles, I can tell you that it is not something the media is comfortable with. For some reason, even the most egregious examples, such as the funding issue around Bath Iron Works, where Pingree voted over and over against the defense spending bills that fund the entirety of BIW’s work, fail to resonate with the political press in Maine. Voters have gotten what I believe to be a watered-down version of her actual record, and the press has failed to close the loop between her entanglement with far-left anti-war extremists and her votes against military budgets that fund contractors in Maine like BIW and Pratt & Whitney.

Pingree’s history of associating with the most hardline elements in American politics should receive scrutiny in a state known for its centrist political ethos.  

But it doesn’t.

Maine has gotten a lot of negative attention because of the outrageous and often racist commentary from Republicans in recent years. And Republicans in Maine, justifiably, have been under intense scrutiny and criticism for their participation in the degradation of our political dialog.

But this is a two-way street. Republicans need to be held accountable for flaming the fires of debilitating partisanship, and so do Democrats. And when we have an elected official who is so engrossed in the caustic culture of left-wing extremism like Pingree, it’s worth at least some baseline discussion.

Pingree is not shy about making herself available to the press when it suits her needs — she runs to the microphone to condemn her political adversaries when they step out of line. Her silence when it comes to the outrageous and dangerous commentary from Omar and others is deafening, and it’s a pattern Maine voters deserve to be made aware of.


Lance Dutson

About Lance Dutson

Lance Dutson, a principal of Red Hill Strategies, is a Republican communications consultant. He has served on the campaign teams of U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Kelly Ayotte, as well as the Maine Republican Party.