Politics & Government

Tillis skips ISIS hearing, prompting charge of hypocrisy

In the final weeks of his U.S. Senate race last fall, Republican Thom Tillis blasted Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan for missing a national security meeting for a fundraiser.

“If I was dealing with anything like the threat of ISIS, I would have canceled anything I was doing,” Tillis said last October.

But records show Tillis missed a meeting this month of the Senate Armed Services Committee. The subject of the July 7 meeting: ISIS.

Sen. Tillis was meeting with former Vice President and Defense Secretary Dick Cheney for a one-on-one discussion on America’s strategy to defeat ISIS and ways to pursue our national security interests at home and abroad.

Daniel Keylin

Chaired by Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, committee members talked about strategies to combat the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. They heard from Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

A Tillis spokesman said the senator missed the hearing because he was having his own meeting on ISIS at the time.

“Sen. Tillis was meeting with former Vice President and Defense Secretary Dick Cheney for a one-on-one discussion on America’s strategy to defeat ISIS and ways to pursue our national security interests at home and abroad,” said Tillis spokesman Daniel Keylin.

Thom Tillis was lying to North Carolinians when he said he would cancel anything to attend an ISIS hearing.

Sadie Weiner, former Hagan spokeswoman

Tillis attacked Hagan for missing a closed hearing of the same Armed Services Committee in February 2014. Hagan said the committee had rescheduled the hearing to a time when she had a conflicting campaign event in New York.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee and Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS super PAC ran ads about Hagan’s failure to attend the hearing. Tillis’ campaign ran its own ad featuring pictures of terrorists and a cocktail glass.

“Thom Tillis was lying to North Carolinians when he said he would cancel anything to attend an ISIS hearing,” said Sadie Weiner, Hagan’s former spokesperson. “And while it’s hardly a surprise that he’s already breaking his promises, it’s troubling that he would use a meeting with a washed up politician as his excuse.”

PolitiFact found that Hagan attended 23 of 50 open committee meetings in 2013 and 2014 but could not determine how many closed meetings she or other members attended. Politifact concluded that she had one of the panel’s worst attendance records.

Tillis’s attendance record could not be readily determined. In a March story on another committee member, Politico cited records showing Tillis had attended 15 of 16 public hearings up to then.

“He would never miss a classified Armed Services Committee hearing on ISIS to attend a campaign fundraiser,” Keylin said.

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