Dan Benishek, the Congressman from Michigan’s 1st Congressional District made a pledge when he first ran for that seat that he would only serve three terms. When he recently reneged on that pledge, I sorta shrugged. Republican politicians lying about things isn’t particularly BREAKING NEWS!!! However, when Benishek revealed his supposed reason for breaking his pledge, I got angry. According to Benishek, it’s so that he can continue to “serve millions of veterans every day as a leader on veterans’ issues in the House”.
Here’s what he wrote in an op-ed for UpperMichigansSource.com
Recently I was asked if I intended to seek another term in Congress. To keep working in Congress for our veterans – and everyone in the 1st district – would mean breaking a pledge I made when I first ran. In that campaign, I stated my support for term limits, saying, “three terms and you’re retired seems about right to me.” But I also hate to walk away from a challenge – especially when I’ve worked in the Iron Mountain VA for 20-years as a surgeon, serving one veteran at a time, to now having the ability to serve millions of veterans every day as a leader on veterans’ issues in the House. My training as a physician taught me to never walk away from a patient and I can’t start now. […]
A career in Washington is not what I’m looking for because I already have one – serving the UP as doctor for 30 years. What being a member of Congress has allowed me to do, though, is continue serving our veterans and the families of Northern Michigan.
What’s infuriating about this is that it is not just pandering to veterans, it’s a complete lie.
His newfound love of veterans drew the attention of the Michigan Democratic Party who called Benishek out on his transparent pandering, especially in light of his recent vote to underfund the Veterans Administration. Gordie Bourland, Army veteran from Petoskey, Marc Carr, Army veteran from Sault Ste. Marie, and Kel Smythe, Army veteran from Escanaba released this joint statement:
As Michigan veterans, we’re appalled at the nerve of Congressman Benishek to claim he’s breaking his retirement pledge to help veterans – because just the other day he voted with his Republican pals in Congress to underfund the VA by $19 billion. The VA cuts Benishek supported would mean longer wait times, more expensive trips to the clinic, and less benefits to go around. We reject Congressman Benishek’s false promise of help; he’d only break it anyway.
Benishek also voted against H.R. 2216 which would have allowed quicker disability claims processing to alleviate the backlog for veterans, voted against H.R. 2055 to provide millions of dollars in additional funding for suicide prevention and PTSD for veterans, and voted against H.R. 5854 to increase funding by an additional $28.3 million for medical and prosthetic research and development for veterans’ care.
These are not the actions of a man who is truly dedicated to helping the men and women who have served their country through military service.
It may be this hypocrisy on veterans’ issues along with breaking his three-terms-and-out pledge that now has Benishek on the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “Patriots Program”, a program to help out the GOP’s most vulnerable Republicans at risk of losing their seat. Benishek raised only $115,000 in the last quarter, an astonishingly low amount for an incumbent whose party is in the majority and he may face a primary.
If Democrats can field a solid candidate against Benishek (assuming he can actually survive his primary), they may be able to retake this seat they haven’t held since Bart Stupak retired in 2011.