In case you missed it last week, Congressman Doug Lamborn is taking a beating over reports that he has regularly missed congressional meetings of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs — an issue that has become much more politically-important in the wake of a scandal over conditions at VA Hospitals around the country.
Democrat Irv Halter has been successful in drawing significant attention to Lamborn's absences, with coverage last week in the Colorado Springs Gazette, Fox 21, and KRDO News (the ABC affiliate in Southern Colorado). You can probably guess by now that Lamborn's response to critics has been less than optimal. The Gazette's Megan Schrader sums up the issue nicely:
U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn says he must juggle his time sitting on three committees and six subcommittees at Capitol Hill, but his opponents are questioning why he's missed more than half of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs meetings in the past two years.
"Sometimes three will meet at the same time," Lamborn said. "There is a constant allocation of time."
Democrat Irv Halter, who is challenging Lamborn in November, says Lamborn's attendance record reflects the congressman's priorities…
…Lamborn provided The Gazette with a detailed list of scheduling conflicts that kept him from each of the meetings he missed. He had conflicting committee meetings for 17 of the 19 meetings he missed, including budget hearings for the Department of Defense. During the other two meetings, the records indicate Lamborn was flying to Washington, D.C., at the time. [Pols emphasis]
Lamborn also serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the House Committee on Natural Resources. When he can't attend a meeting, Lamborn said he has a staff member there to take notes. From January 2013 to June 20, the congressman attended 14 of 33 full committee hearings, according to The Gazette's detailed review of meeting videos and minutes from the House Committee on Veterans Affairs. Lamborn's records indicate he attended two additional meetings April 3, one briefly, but The Gazette was unable to verify his attendance at those two meetings.
The response from Lamborn is sadly predictable, reflecting a general air of complete cluelessness. Lamborn is trying hard to avoid the topic directly, instead focusing on telling the press that he has a very busy schedule. That doesn't answer the important question, of course, which is this: Why would Lamborn not be prioritizing these meetings when he represents a district that is as militarily-focused as CD-5? What the hell is he doing instead that is more important?
For a better sense of how bad this looks for Lamborn, take a look at the two-minute KRDO story after the jump…