TOPEKA, Kansas — While U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts has been playing up his endorsements from Kansas farm, crop and livestock organizations during his bid for re-election, federal records show he has attended barely one-third of all Senate Agriculture Committee meetings during the last 15 years.
Roberts, a three-term Republican from Dodge City, serves on the committee responsible for farm, nutrition and forestry issues. He also is a member of Senate committees devoted to health, education, labor and finance topics, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.
According to documents from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Roberts showed up for only 71 of 201 agricultural committee sessions from 2000 to 2014, or 35.5 percent.
"Pat Roberts is a tireless warrior for Kansas agriculture," said Corry Bliss, Roberts' campaign manager. "Kansas farmers and ranchers have no greater friend that Pat Roberts."
Roberts is embroiled in a tight Senate race against independent Greg Orman, whose campaign said the statistics indicate that Roberts was among career politicians who neglected work expected of them by constituents.
Roberts attracted attention in January when he voted against a $1.1 trillion appropriations bill that included $400 million for the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility under construction at Kansas State University.
On the campaign trail, Roberts touted his support of the $1.25 billion facility in Manhattan designed for high-security research on infectious animal diseases.
Orman campaign spokesman Sam Edelen said Roberts needed to clarify his position "because back here in Kansas you can't get away with talking out of both sides of your mouth."
In response to criticism by Orman's camp about the senator's attendance record, Bliss said the issue was an attempt by Orman to mislead Kansans and distract people from looking into the challenger's "liberal, dishonest record."
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