Congresswoman Mazie Hirono at the 2012 Hawaii Democratic Convention
Congresswoman Mazie Hirono at the 2012 Hawaii Democratic Convention

BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN – Congresswoman Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, who is a hotly contested primary race for U.S. Senate against former Congressman Ed Case, (D-Hawaii/2002-2007), missed several votes in the last few weeks, so she could continue to fundraise and campaign for the seat left open by the retirement of U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii.

Some of the bills she did not vote on, according to Congress.org’s MegaVote reports, include:

Veterans Licensing – Suspension Vote, which would “instruct the heads of federal agencies to recognize relevant training and skills acquired by veterans during their terms of service as meeting the requirements for federal licenses;”

ATM Fee Disclosure – Suspension Vote, which would “lift a requirement that ATMs bear a physical display warning users that they may incur a fee if they are not account holders at the financial institution that owns the ATM;”

Hydropower Generation – Suspension Vote, which would “exempt small hydropower facilities that generate up to 10,000 kilowatts of electricity from permitting by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).”

Before that, she was absent for votes on the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, a bill the White House threatened to veto, which “directs the Director of National Intelligence to develop procedures to share cyber-threat information on a voluntary basis between the government’s intelligence community and the private sector.”

She also was not there to vote on the Interest Rate Reduction Act, which would “keep the interest rate for government-subsidized student loans at 3.4 percent, and stop it from a scheduled increase to 6.8 percent.”

In addition, Hirono missed voting on the Legislative Branch Appropriations, which “funds FY 13 spending on legislative branch operations including funding for Member and committee offices and operations of agencies such as the Library of Congress, Capitol Police, Congressional Research Service (CRS), and Government Accountability Office (GAO).”

Hirono also was absent for the vote on the FDA User Fee Reauthorization, which would “reauthorize the FDA to impose user fees on drug and device manufacturers for five years.”

Retired General Robert Lee, the campaign manager for U.S. Senate Republican Candidate Linda Lingle, wrote an editorial about one of Hirono’s missed votes – the one related to student loans.

“So the question is: where was Mazie Hirono when a vote was held on the Stafford proposal?  Her campaign reported she was busy on the campaign trail. And unashamed about it. In a statement to a local reporter, Hirono’s spokesperson said that her campaign travel itinerary took precedence over her duty as a Congresswoman to vote on behalf of the people of Hawaii.  I don’t begrudge her opinion that the proposal did not fit with her personal beliefs, but I do find it objectionable that she isn’t upholding her sworn duty to discuss and vote on a bill of such importance. Campaigning over fulfilling her obligations and duties?  This is not leadership. Folks, we can’t afford this type of dereliction of duty, and we can’t afford to have elected leaders who are unable to find common ground with people of different political parties,” Lee said.

Carolyn Tanaka, spokesperson for Hirono, said in a July 18, 2012, statement to Hawaii Reporter: “Mazie is committed to continuing to work for the people of her district while also running a vigorous campaign for U.S. Senate, where the stakes for Hawaii are very high.  Because if Hawaii doesn’t like the partisan games being played nearly every day by the Republicans who control the U.S. House, then we certainly cannot afford to allow the Republican Party to win the four seats required to seize control of the U.S. Senate.”

Tanaka also took a jab at Case, who is Hirono’s opponent in the Democratic primary this August 11.

“For that matter, Mazie’s opponent Ed Case certainly understands what it’s like to both serve Hawaii and campaign for Senate.  As a congressman, Ed Case missed 10 percent of votes after announcing his ill-advised and ill-fated 2006 Democratic primary challenge to Senator Dan Akaka.  And even after Case lost, he apparently decided he didn’t have to go back to work — missing 37% of his congressional votes in the months after the primary campaign ended.”

Case could not immediately be reached for comment.

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Malia Zimmerman is the editor and co-founder of Hawaii Reporter. She has worked as a consultant and contributor to several dozen media outlets including ABC 20/20, FOX News, MSNBC, the Wall Street Journal, UPI and the Washington Times. Malia has been listed as one of the nation’s top "Web Proficients, Virtuosi, and Masters" and "Hawaii's new media thought leader" by http://www.thewebstersdictionary.com Reach her at Malia@hawaiireporter.com