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by Sharon Rondeau

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa representing California’s 49th district. The ranking member is Rep. Elijah Cummings, who represents Maryland’s 7th District

(Sep. 23, 2013) — An article by Katie Pavlich at Townhall.com reported that most of the Democrat members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee “left the room and refused to listen to the testimony of Patricia Smith and Charles Woods.”

Pavlich’s report was gleaned from tweets put out by Rep. Darrell Issa’s office which stated, “@OversightDems excuse themselves from testimony of #Benghazi heroes’ family members” followed by two Twitter links.

Ms. Smith is the mother of Information Specialist Sean Smith; Charles Woods is the father of Tyrone Woods, a former Navy SEAL.  Both men were killed in a terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya on September 11 last year about which the Obama regime has been slow to provide answers.  Eyewitness and second-in-command at the U.S. consulate in Tripoli Gregory Hicks told the House Oversight Committee in May that two “stand-down” orders were given to military teams ready to travel to Benghazi to assist the victims of the attack.  Testimony from Lt. Col. Steve Gibson behind closed doors to the House Armed Services Committee in late June contradicted Hicks’s account.

In addition to Woods and Smith, Amb. Christopher Stevens and a second former Navy SEAL, Glen Doherty, were killed.

There are 23 Republicans and 17 Democrats on the committee, which includes the Issa, the chairman, and Elijah Cummings, the ranking member.

Following Issa’s report on Thursday, The Blaze described the alleged “walkout” as the Democrats’ having “excused themselves… before the family members of the slain American heroes testified.”

Over the weekend, The Post & Email received numerous reports listing 15 Democrat members of the committee as having left the hearing before Smith and Woods were to speak.  An open letter addressed to those alleged to have walked out was published by The Post & Email on Monday morning.  Two of the Democrats reportedly stayed:  Rep. Jackie Speier and Rep. Cummings.

On Monday, The Post & Email contacted 11 of the 15 Democrats to ask why they might have left the meeting at that time, if they did.

We were unable to reach two of them and will make another attempt on Tuesday.

We left voice messages and/or emails for the remaining nine.  Of those, two responded as of press time.

The first response we received was by telephone and email from Chris Carroll, Press Secretary for Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN5), who stated the following:

Jim has attended many Benghazi hearings. He did not walk out Thursday because he was not able to attend the hearing at all. He was in several House Armed Services Committee meetings and meeting with constituents from Tennessee.

The second response was from Ryan Nickel of Rep. Peter Welch’s office, who sent us the following link after we presented our questions:


Because the linked article contains opinion and a partisan approach, we asked Nickel, “Would you consider the Slate story an official report?” to which we received no response.

The Post & Email has not been able to locate a video of the alleged “walkout” online.  One of the aides with whom we spoke suggested that it might not exist and that the situation was mischaracterized.

It does not appear from the tweeted photo that all 23 Republicans attended the hearing.

We also contacted Rep. Darrell Issa’s communications director, Rebecca Watkins, to ask if Pavlich’s account of the story was accurate but did not receive a response as of press time.

No responses were received from the offices of Rep. Steven Lynch, Rep. Gerald Connolly, Rep. John Tierney, Rep. Mark Pocan, Rep. Matt Cartwright, and Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, and Rep. Carolyn Maloney.

The Powerline blog has suggested that reports of a “walkout” might have been “overblown.”

A report in The Examiner on Monday stated that the compound where the four Americans died was a CIA operation set up to transfer weapons formerly belonging to the Muommar Gaddafi regime to the rebels fighting in Syria to unseat dictator Bashar al-Assad.

Obama has said on numerous occasions that “Assad must go,” as he did with former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and Libya’s Gaddafi.

Gaddafi had referred to Obama as his “son” and was killed by members of his opposition in October 2011.

Update, 8:59 p.m. EDT:  A blogger claims to have contacted Rep. Cartwright about the alleged “walkout,” reporting that the congressman explained his actions “badly.”

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