Rochelle “Chellie” Pingree was born on April 2, 1955 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She attended the University of Southern Maine in 1973 and went on to earn a B.A. from the College of the Atlantic three years later. She subsequently worked as a farmer (1977-80), founder/owner of the North Island Designs Company (1981-93), and a photographer/producer (1986-92). Moreover, from 1980-94 Pingree worked for both the North Haven (Maine) Tax Assessors and the North Haven Planning Board. She also served on the local school board and was the editor of the North Haven News.
After eight years (1992-2000) as a member of the Maine State Senate, Pingree made an unsuccessful run for a U.S. Senate seat in 2002. From 2003-07 she was the president/chief executive officer of Common Cause. In 2006 she founded an inn/restaurant called the Nebo Lodge, which she still owns. And since 2008 she has represented Maine's 1st Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, where she is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
During her years as a legislator, Pingree has voted:
- against a 2015 proposal to cut off federal funding from Planned Parenthood, in light of new revelations about that organization's participation in the illegal harvesting and sale of fetal organs and body parts;
- against a 2015 bill stipulating that if a baby somehow survived an abortion procedure, it would acquire the human rights of a person already born;
- against bills in 2011 and 2015 forbidding the use of federal funds for any abortion-related services;
- against the 2013 and 2015 incarnations of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which sought to prohibit abortions from being performed on any fetus that had reached the 20th week of its gestation period—except in cases where a pregnancy endangered the mother's life or was the result of rape or incest;
- against a 2011 bill extending provisions of the Patriot Act;
- against the 2013 No Subsidies Without Verification Act, which called for American Health Benefit Exchanges to verify the eligibility of individuals applying for premium tax credits;
- against a 2013 bill authorizing U.S. states to require that beneficiaries of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participate in work activity—i.e., employment or job training—for a minimum of 20 hours per week;
- against a pair of bills, in 2014 and 2015, to approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport petroleum from Canadian oil sands to U.S. refineries;
- against a 2012 bill calling for an increase in oil and gas lease sales in Alaska, off the coast of Virginia, and on federal lands;
- against a 2012 bill to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from taking any action related to the emission of “greenhouse gases”;
- against a 2015 bill prohibiting the distribution of federal funds to state or local governments that practice “sanctuary” policies which prevent the enforcement of federal immigration laws;
- against a 2014 bill barring the Executive branch of the federal government from exempting illegal aliens, either temporarily or permanently, from deportation pursuant to existing immigration law; and
- in favor of the 2010 Dream Act, legislation designed to create college-tuition discounts and a path-to-citizenship for illegal immigrants who came to the United States as minors and are still younger than 35. (Note: Pingree's calls for “comprehensive” immigration reform and a path-to-citizenship actually extend not only to those eligible for the DREAM Act, but to millions of foreign nationals of all ages who reside in the United States illegally.)
For additional information on Pingree's voting record, click here, here, and here.
Pingree has long opposed Voter ID laws, on the premise that they not only discriminate against nonwhite minorities, but that they are also unnecessary. In 2006, for instance, she said that elections have many problems, “but people pretending to be someone else [i.e., voter fraud] is not one of them.”
July 2015 Pingree supported the nuclear deal that the Obama administration negotiated with Iran—an agreement allowing the Islamist regime in Tehran to enrich uranium, build advanced centrifuges, purchase ballistic missiles, fund terrorism, and have a near-zero breakout time to a nuclear bomb approximately a decade down the road. (For additional details about the accord, click here.). “The best way to stop Iran's nuclear weapons program is through a comprehensive, international agreement like this one,” said Pingree.