Varilek attacks Noem again for missed meetingsCongresswoman defends actions, saying committee assignments conflict.
By: Staff reports, The Daily Republic
Rep. Kristi Noem missed more than two of three House Indian and Alaska Native Affairs subcommittee meetings, her opponent claimed Tuesday.
“I sit on three committees and nine subcommittees. Sometimes these meetings overlap. I have to prioritize my meetings and put serving the interests of South Dakotans over attending some subcommittee hearings focused on topics that have no impact on our state,” Noem said.
Democratic candidate Matt Varilek issued a press release claiming Noem missed 17 of 22 meetings. During a year-long stretch, from May 24, 2011, to June 26, 2012, she didn’t attend a single meeting.
The Varilek campaign and the South Dakota Democratic Party have attempted to make Noem’s attendance record at congressional meetings an issue in this campaign. This summer, both attacked her for missing Agriculture Committee meetings, claiming she was absent for 16 of 20 committee and subcommittee meetings.
Noem, R-S.D., said the numbers were inaccurate, and said she belonged to more committees and subcommittees than most freshmen and could not be in two meetings at the same time. She also said she spent time meeting with South Dakotans in Washington when some of the meetings were scheduled.
“I think South Dakotans would rather have their one voice in Washington working on South Dakota issues, not meetings specific to tribes in Utah or California,” Noem said.
The Varilek release included a list of the Indian and Alaska Native Affairs meetings she missed and attended.
It also included a link to a video of a July 24, 2011, meeting, when subcommittee Chairman Rep. Don Young, R-Ark., asked Noem if she wished to speak.
Noem, who was typing or sending a message on a handheld device, declined to speak and waved her hand to indicate Young should move on.
“Get off that machine,” Young said to her, a bemused smile on his face. “It’ll drive you nuts! Jabber, jabber, jabber.”
“Whether it’s fighting for more job training, protecting tribal sovereignty or helping our Native American women combat abuse, I’ve always made it clear that I stand with South Dakota’s tribes and their leaders,” Noem said.
“Once again, the facts clearly demonstrate Congresswoman Noem’s unwillingness to show up and work hard on behalf of South Dakota when she’s in Washington,” said Varilek campaign manager David Benson.
“It’s no wonder nothing is getting done — whether it’s not advocating for our Native American communities, the farm bill or the production tax credit for wind energy, Congresswoman Noem has failed to deliver for South Dakota,” Benson said. “It’s time to elect someone who will show up and make sure South Dakota’s one voice in the House is heard once again.”