WASHINGTON – Minnesota’s 10 member congressional delegation wants a meeting with Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald about the status of an internal investigation on whether the Minneapolis VA falsified records about veterans wait times, part of a pattern of behavior congressional investigators have found at other VA health systems around the country.

“We are deeply troubled by serious allegations of falsified records and manipulation of scheduling data at the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs (VA) Health Care System,” said the members in their letter to McDonald.

When news first broke about a similar pattern of behavior at the Phoenix VA, Minnesota members of Congress believed there were no such incidents at the Minneapolis VA Hospital, the state’s largest facility for veterans. Then-VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned over the incidents and Congress quickly passed legislation boosting funding for VA care and allowing veterans to seek medical care from private providers if wait times at their local VA were too long.

The revelations about the Minneapolis VA were first reported by KARE which found that VA supervisors pressured employees to falsify medical records in order to make the center’s wait time statistics look better than they were. A former Marine died in 2012 from seizures while waiting for an appointment with a VA specialist.

Good morning!

In Minnesota

Republican Mike McFadden and his party have seized on a big number in their efforts to boot Sen. Al Franken from office: 97 percent. (AP via WCCO)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will campaign for Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson in Minnesota next month. (MPR News)

Minnesota 2020, a progressive think tank that DFL politician Matt Entenza founded seven years ago, is shutting its doors.  (Star Tribune)

The Minnesota Professional Fire Fighters union announced that it is backing DFL Gov. Mark Dayton for another term. (MPR News)

National Politics

A top Senate Republican warns that the lame-duck Congress shouldn’t vote to confirm whoever President Obama chooses to replace outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder. (Roll Call)

New public polls show Republicans well positioned in three of the key states that could decide control of the Senate. (Politico)

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson will face a grilling from the House Oversight Committee on Tuesday as questions mount about the agency’s ability to protect the first family. (The Hill)

Microsoft is entering the polling business. (New York Times)

Today is the last day for campaigns to raise money before an FEC reporting deadline. Your inbox is probably full of desperate-sounding emails because in an election where America’s political mood is dark, but the potential to raise money is bright, both sides are embracing a simple truth: Pessimism sells. (Politico)

 

The Minnesota Fire Fighters union held a news conference at the Fire Fighters Hall and Museum in Minneapolis. Union president Chris Parsons announced the endorsement. Tom Scheck/MPR News

The Minnesota Professional Fire Fighters union announced today that it is backing DFL Gov. Mark Dayton for another term.

Union leaders said Dayton is a better choice than Republican Jeff Johnson and Independence Party candidate Hannah Nicollet.

“This decision was unanimous by our board and frankly it was an easy decision to make,” Minnesota Professional Fire Fighters President Chris Parsons said.

The union is backing Dayton because he protected a fund used to train fire fighters and increased state aid for local governments. Parsons also said Dayton has been proactive in recognizing the threat of volatile crude oil and other hazardous materials being shipped by rail across Minnesota.

“I can say without qualification that there has been no other governor during that time that has paid more attention to fire safety issues than our governor, Mark Dayton,” Parson said.

The union backed Dayton for governor in 2010 but has backed Republicans in past.  It endorsed Republican Tim Pawlenty for governor in 2002 and 2006.

Dayton said he’s pleased to receive the endorsement. He also hinted that he’d be willing to increase state aid to cities and counties in a second term if the state’s budget is strong.

“If we can continue to provide that kind of support and help relieve the burden on property taxpayers then I’m certainly going to look favorably upon it,” Dayton said.

The fire fighters union represents 1,600 members.