Edwards 'rarely present'

Demo has worst attendance record on judiciary panel

By Lee Davidson
Deseret Morning News

Published: Tuesday, July 20 2004 6:57 a.m. MDT

Briggs defended Edwards' record, saying it is normal for presidential candidates to have low attendance records.

"I'd like to see what Sen. Hatch's record was when he ran for president. But on the other hand, he wasn't in the race that long," he said.

Briggs said Edwards tried to attend the most important meetings and sometimes altered his schedule to be in Washington for them.

Records show that he was in town for higher-profile hearings, such as whenever Attorney General John Ashcroft or FBI Director Robert Mueller were testifying. Of course, such hearings are also where members are most likely to appear on television asking questions, which can help election campaigns.

Edwards' official campaign biography on the Kerry-Edwards Internet page also proclaims, "Sen. Edwards is working every day to protect our civil liberties and our rights: standing up to radical judicial appointees like Judge (Charles) Pickering," whose confirmation was eventually blocked by a Democratic filibuster.

Records show that Edwards did show up for the hearing on Pickering and grilled him and was also on hand for hearings on nominees eventually blocked such as Miguel Estrada and Priscilla Owen.

Edwards also chaired a couple of routine confirmation hearings when Democrats controlled the committee, including one for Allyson K. Duncan, a North Carolina nominee he helped promote.

Briggs also noted that Senate Republican Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said last week when fielding questions about absences by Kerry and Edwards, "They're doing a great public service by running for other public office, and I respect that."

Edwards serves on four committees, which is average in the Senate.

E-mail: lee@desnews.com

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