Here’s what (most of) Maine’s congressional delegation says about Steve Bannon

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street, which has been shrouded in darkness since about 4:30 pm.

What we’re talking about

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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign CEO Steve Bannon is pictured backstage during a campaign event in Eau Claire, Wisconsin on Nov 1. (REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

 

It’s been eight days since the election, and President-elect Donald Trump is still dominating discussions in a city where 76 percent of voters cast ballots against him.

One topic that’s been in the headlines a lot lately is his controversial appointment of Steve Bannon, who formerly ran the extreme-right Breitbart News website, and whose ascension has been celebrated by neo-Nazis and a former KKK leader.

U.S. Rep Chellie Pingree, a Democrat, signed a letter along with 169 other representatives demanding Trump rescind his appointment. In a statement today, she referred to Bannon as “someone who has offended and disrespected wide swaths of the American people. I’m proud to stand with my colleagues to tell the President-elect that he should rescind Bannon’s appointment immediately if he wants to unify the country like he says he does.” On Monday, she said Bannon’s “presence will absolutely defile the White House.”

Jake Bleiberg reached out to Sen. Angus King, an independent, who expanded slightly on a tweet he posted yesterday:

“It is disappointing and disturbing that President-elect Trump has chosen someone with the views of Mr. Bannon as his Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor, especially given that the President-elect said it is his goal to bring the country together,” he said. “No matter how discouraging it may be, this appointment is not subject to Senate confirmation, which means that, while the President has the prerogative to decide to whom he listens, my actions will be focused on resisting policies that are not in keeping with our values of equality and fairness.”

Republican Sen. Susan Collins offered a similar statement:

“Presidents have always picked their personal staffs, and sometimes those selections have been controversial,” Collins spokeswoman Annie Clark wrote in an email on Wednesday evening. “These internal staff positions are not ones that require Senate confirmation. Sen. Collins agrees with President Obama who said that it is important to give the President-elect the time and space to choose his personal staff.”

We’ve reached out to U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin and will let you know if we hear back. Although, he famously dodged questions about whether he even supported Trump during the campaign.

In other news

You might need skis to get to this Portland restaurateur’s new joint — Harding Lee Smith — the guy behind The Front Room, Corner Room and Grill Room — will open his fifth restaurant on Dec. 20 at Sunday River. It’ll be called The Mountain Room, naturally.

Mainers spent $50 million they didn’t need to on electricity — Darren Fishell reports:

Maine households have unnecessarily spent about $50 million on electricity over the past four years, through a controversial competitive market that purported to offer savings.

In 2015 alone, Maine customers of “competitive electricity providers” paid a premium of $32.4 million for their power, over and above a default price set by state regulators on behalf of consumers.

See the city through the eyes of Troy R. Bennett — Sometimes, Troy wanders Portland on foot and captures the city “with just a 50mm lens, … no crazy cropping and no Photoshop trickery.”

Make Maine Great Again drops charges against alleged sign thieves — Now that Maine has been made Great Again, the pro-Trump PAC is forgiving the people who allegedly stole some Trump signs.

WGME reports:

Chairman David Jones said he believes Trump’s call for the nation to heal inspired the decision to drop the charges.

“With this in mind, I have asked the local authorities to dismiss all charges against Elizabeth Stothart, Martha Murdick and Heidi Kendrick who were charged in a Falmouth theft of signs that made national headlines,” Jones said.

ICYMI: Sothart last month wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post explaining why she stole the signs.

The Big Idea

Hate crimes are up — but the government isn’t keeping good track of them — ProPublica reports:

[E]ven in the early stages of what promises to be a prolonged focus on crimes colored by prejudice and politics, there appears to be one irrefutable truth: the data is deeply flawed.

James Comey, the director of the FBI, said as much even as he announced the bureau’s latest batch of numbers.

“We need to do a better job of tracking and reporting hate crimes to fully understand what is happening in our communities and how to stop it,” Comey said.


 

Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at dmacleod@bangordailynews.com, or tweet @dsmacleod.

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Dan MacLeod

About Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the editor of BDN Portland. He's an Orland native who first moved to Portland in 2002. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the New York Post and the Brooklyn Paper.