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John DiStaso's Granite Status: NHGOP letter asks details of why Shaheen missed key meeting

By John DiStaso, Senior Political Reporter
July 17. 2013 10:12AM

WEDNESDAY, JULY 17. WHERE WERE YOU? The state Republican Party has written a letter to Sen. Jeanne Shaheen asking for her schedule earlier this week, when she was one of a few senators to miss a closed-door meeting of the full U.S. Senate on the contentious filibuster issue.

A deal was eventually worked out and the so-called "nuclear option" threatened by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was averted. Shaheen's spokesman has said she had a "scheduling conflict" that the Senate leadership was aware of, but did not detail the reason.

Wednesday morning, NHGOP Chair Jennifer Horn wrote Shaheen a letter formally asking "that you provide me with all calendar information from your office regarding your schedule from July 14 to July 16, 2013. I am particularly interested in your schedule for the night of July 15, 2013 when you failed to appear for a mandatory quorum vote and failed to participate in a critical, bipartisan caucus meeting on Senate filibuster changes. This requests includes, but is not limited to, any written or electronic correspondence from your office that may determine your whereabouts during the time that you were supposed to be representing New Hampshire at this important meeting.

"The Hill (7/15/13) reports that 97 of your 99 Senate colleagues returned to Washington in time for a mandatory 'live' quorum vote and to participate in a rare, joint caucus meeting on making dramatic changes to the filibuster rules for approving presidential appointees. According to the National Journal, (7/15/13) 'live' quorum votes are mandatory and Senators can be arrested and brought to the Senate floor if they are absent," Horn wrote.

She says that "for some reason you have remained suspiciously silent, dodged questions from the media and refused to discuss why you skipped this important event. You spokesman has only said that Senate Democrat leadership was aware of your absence prior to (the) meeting. But if you can tell Harry Reid why you were unable to do your job, you should be able to share the same excuse with your constituents."

Horn noted that in May, Shaheen wrote a letter to President Barack Obama calling on him to increase government transparency.

Horn noted that the Shaheen letter to Obama said, "Transparency is a foundational principle of our democracy. The American public has a right to access official records in order to provide appropriate oversight of their elected officials. Secrecy in our government should be limited, and used only when absolutely necessary to protect our national interest."

Wrote Horn: "In order to avoid looking like a hypocrite, you should hold yourself to the same standard and honor our request for your official schedule. The people of New Hampshire have a right to know why you failed to execute the required duties of your elected office.
"Clearly, you have not been honest about this matter, and your silence suggests that you have something to hide."

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