Rep. Lee Zeldin’s absence from eight full-committee and subcommittee hearings on the Islamic State group and Syria during 2015 is drawing harsh criticism from both Democratic candidates vying to challenge the freshman Republican at the polls next November.
Zeldin has has used media appearances to espouse tough talk on terrorism as a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee. But his no-shows accounted for more than half of the relevant hearings held, the New York Post reported last week.
That prompted slams from Democrats Anna Throne-Holst and David Calone in a campaign that showed early activity months ago.
Zeldin said through a spokeswoman he is always briefed by staff on what he may have missed while attending to other duties and thus is “never truly absent.”
Throne-Holst said, “No-show Lee Zeldin owes his constituents on Long Island – and the taxpayers who sign his paycheck - an apology for neglecting to do the job that he was elected to do.
“Long Islanders deserve better and more dedicated leadership.”
Calone said: “Congressman Zeldin spends a lot of time talking about foreign policy. Unfortunately, he doesn’t spend as much time in Congress doing his job to keep us safe.
“As a former federal prosecutor who worked on international crime and terrorism cases, I know how crucial having all the information is to making the right decision.”
Those statements this week prompted a barbed response from Zeldin spokeswoman Jennifer DiSiena:
“David says, ‘I know how crucial having all the information is to making the right decision,’ yet he continues to misfire with ill-informed, deceitful attacks that almost always are aimlessly fired without ‘all the information’ . . .
“While these two Democrats play games to deceive reporters into covering their self-serving, half-cocked narrative, Congressman Zeldin will remain focused on continuing to do his job exceptionally.
“It’s a pretty desperate line of attack to criticize Congressman Zeldin for not being at one hearing while he’s at another hearing or otherwise working hard, with consistently 90-100 hour work weeks.”