Charges again flew in the New Hampshire U.S. Senate race earlier today after the Boston Herald reported that Sen. Jeanne Shaheen missed nearly half of the public hearings held by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee over the past two years.
That included a hearing, the report said, in which officials warned that ISIS was an emerging threat to the region and national security.
The state Republican Party chair seized on the report and called Shaheen, a member of that key panel, an “absentee” senator.
The Democratic Party quickly struck back, pointing out that Republican challenger Scott Brown missed committee hearings on foreign policy and national security issues when he served in the Senate representing Massachusetts.
The Democrats cited five committee hearings Brown did not attend. The Herald report said Shaheen missed 23 hearings.
Click here for the Herald report on the Shaheen absences. A headline “Too Busy for ISIS!” and no fewer than five photos of Shaheen with different facial expressions were splashed across the tabloid-size newspaper’s front page.
The Herald reported that Shaheen missed a hearing U.S. policy toward Syria on April 11, 2013 “in which a top U.S. Treasury official in charge of terrorist financing told committee members a new terrorist group, ISIS, had sprung up, ‘underscoring the danger this group poses for Syria and the world.’”
Overall, the story said, Shaheen missed 14 of 30 Foreign Relations Committee hearings in the current two-year congressional session.
It said that in the prior session, 2011-2012, Shaheen “appeared to miss” nine of 30 hearings.
The Herald said the Shaheen campaign did not dispute the number of hearings Shaheen missed, but reported that the campaign said, “While hearing are often scheduled at conflicting times, (Shaheen) maintains constant communications” with national security officials.
“Senator Shaheen is one of the most active and engaged members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “the spokesman said.
Republican challenger Scott Brown’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment, but state Republican Party chair Jennifer Horn criticized the senator as “an absentee senator who won’t hold town hall meetings in New Hampshire and won’t attend critical Senate committee hearings on national security in Washington.
“She refuses to think for herself and blindly votes with President Obama 99 percent of the time,” said Horn. “New Hampshire is an independent state, and it’s sad that Granite Staters are being poorly represented by an Obama puppet and a no-show senator like Jeanne Shaheen. It’s time to replace her with a responsible leader like Scott Brown who will stand up for his constituents and work tirelessly to restore America’s standing in the world.”
The NHGOP noted that July 2013, Shaheen was one of two senators who missed a key meeting of the full Senate on filibuster reform. Shaheen eventually acknowledged she was at a New York City fund-raiser at the time.
But Shaheen also said at the time she had made her position in favor of filibuster reform well known and no votes were taken at the meeting.
The GOP also said, “It has been 757 days since Jeanne Shaheen held a town hall meeting with her constituents. “
Republican former U.S. Sen. Gordon Humphrey, who served on the Foreign Relations Committee while in the Senate during the 1980s, added, “That committee’s work is vital to national security, vital to the safety of every New Hampshire man, woman and child. For Senator Shaheen to have skipped out on 14 of the committee’s 30 meetings this session alone, is an astonishing case of dereliction of duty.”
Humphrey is now a Brown supporter after initially backing Brown primary foe Jim Rubens.
The Democratic Party called the GOP criticism “hypocritical attacks” by Brown because “records show he missed several key Senate hearings that addressed critical foreign policy and national security issues on which he is now claiming to be an expert. For someone who is desperate to get back to the U.S. Senate, Brown was not particularly interested in performing his Senatorial duties of investigating and rooting out violent extremism and terrorism as a member of the Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees when he was there.”
Brown on Thursday gave a lengthy speech on foreign policy, calling Shaheen a unquestioning follower of President Barack Obama, whose administration, Brown charged, is “confused” and “devoid of ideas.” The Shaheen campaign countered today when supporter Madeleine Albright, a former Secretary of State, told The Associated Press that Shaheen has worked hard on foreign policy issues.
The NHDP said Brown missed a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on “U.S. Government Efforts To Counter Violent Extremism” and Homeland Security Committee hearings on “Securing The Border: Building On The Progress Made,” “Secure The Border: Progress At The Local Level,” “U.S. Vulnerabilities To Money Laundering, Drugs, And Terrorist Financing: HSBC Case History,” and on “Federal Progress on Border Security.”
“Scott Brown claims to be some sort of expert on foreign policy, despite his ongoing series of gaffes and clear confusion about the threats that face our nation,” said party spokesman Julie McClain said. “His paltry attendance record shows a half-hearted commitment to his responsibilities. This is the lowest form of hypocrisy from the former Massachusetts Senator. As usual, he’s all contrived style and no substance.”