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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

After defending his record, Marco Rubio missed most classified briefings



Under fire for shirking his duty in Washington, Sen. Marco Rubio declared on CNN last October that “We do all the intelligence briefings” and ”I was just there this Tuesday.”

But from that point through when he left the presidential race in March, Rubio missed 20 of 23 classified Intelligence Committee meetings, according to new research.

The Tampa Bay Times earlier this year reported on how Rubio missed scores of committee hearings, including 60 percent of Foreign Relations meetings since he was first elected.

The new information about closed Intelligence briefings, based on his campaign schedule and other information, adds a new layer to the portrait of absenteeism.

Rubio’s rivals are trying to revive questions now that he has reversed his campaign pledge not to seek re-election. He leads in the polls.

Rubio spokesman Alex Burgos said the lawmaker was constantly briefed on matters of national security, which Rubio made a centerpiece of his campaign. Intel members also do work outside the committee, including reading classified information and cables. He's said that when he missed hearings, a staffer would go for him or retrieve information he would later read.

“On many occasions, Senator Rubio left the presidential campaign trail to return to Washington for important national security briefings and votes, including in the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attack and North Korea's nuclear test,” Burgos wrote in an email. “Throughout the campaign, Senator Rubio would stay up to date on the latest intelligence information when he would return to Washington to be briefed on the material in secure locations.

“Because Senator Rubio is a member of both the Intelligence Committee and the Foreign Relations Committee, there are times when he will miss briefings in one setting because he would be briefed on the issue in another, often with more level of detail because of the sensitive nature of information intelligence committee members see."

Since dropping out of the presidential race, Rubio has made a point of making every vote and committee hearing. But his past is coming up again in the Senate campaign.

Republican Carlos Beruff has been particularly aggressive, casting “No-Show Rubio” as more concerned about his political climb than doing actual work.

The Times reported that Beruff has had his own attendance issues as a member of the board of trustees for a community college in Manatee County. He was absent for nine of 19 board of trustees meetings from August 2014 through April of this year, records show.

Leading Democrat Patrick Murphy boasts of a near-perfect voting record on the House floor. His office said he has attended 14 of 16 classified House Intelligence Committee meetings.

It also said he had a 66 percent* “lifetime attendance record” on the Financial Services Committee. Publicly available records (GPO transcripts) show that in his first term he attended 31 hearings and skipped 28, or 47 percent. Through last July — when transcripts are available - he had attended 10 hearings and bailed on seven, or 41 percent.

A campaign spokesman, Joshua Karp, did not follow through Saturday in providing more recent information.

UPDATE Sunday: Murphy's office now says he attended 50 percent of Financial Services meetings and that there were 20 Intel hearings.

[Last modified: Sunday, July 17, 2016 1:06pm]


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