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Noem, Varilek Spar Again Over Attendance

October 3, 2012, 5:59 PM by Kelly Bartnick

Noem, Varilek Spar Again Over Attendance

South Dakota Congresswoman Kristi Noem's lunchroom tours across the state continue. Noem meets with lunch officials about the new Federal school lunch standards. Meanwhile, Noem's opponent, Matt Varilek, says she had the chance to talk about the same standard in Washington but declined.

“It's hard to understand why she now wants to make this a priority when she didn't think it was a priority long ago,” Varilek said.

Varilek says South Dakota's lone representative missed a May, 2011 sub-committee meeting about the same school lunch standards. But Noem says she was on official business, traveling to South Dakota for an activation ceremony of Pierre's 200th Engineering Battalion scheduled for the next day.

“Matt Varilek continues to mislead South Dakotans about my record even now to the point where he's resorted to attacking me for making our soldiers and their family a priority,” Noem said.

Noem hit back at Varilek on Wednesday saying the accusation is meant as a voter distraction.

“Matt Varilek would choose to attack me on this issue when he has been completely silent on this school nutrition issue going forward. And our schools are dealing with those regulations when it comes to trying to comply with them. And this government overreach is going forward,” Noem said.

Noem maintains she prioritizes her attendance on issues important to South Dakotans and touts a 99 percent committee voting record. But Varilek continues to point to a string of Noem's absences. 

“So the excuse that she is going to other committees just isn't holding any water anymore when you see the fact that she's not missing because of conflicts in most cases. She's simply missing them all,” Varilek said.

Noem also said in addition to serving on more committees than most freshman representatives, she has also made time to meet with more than 600 South Dakotans during their Washington, D.C travels and maintains the attacks are just election-year politics.

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