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For New Hampshire's Senators, it appears silence is 'party' policy

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The partial government shutdown may be in its 18th day, but the stonewalling of New Hampshire's Democratic Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan regarding recent attempts by The Rochester Voice to address their apparent flip-flopping on the issue actually began a day earlier.

Since Dec. 21 The Rochester Voice has been attempting to contact the Granite State's two U.S. Senators, by both email and phone, to ask them to square remarks from their websites and in earlier comments that voiced support for the wall with their party leaders' current stance that such a structure is immoral, ineffective and a waste of money.

We first reached out on Friday, Dec. 21, leaving messages with live operators at both their Washington offices phones. On that day we also emailed Sen. Hassan's press liaison per a staffer's request.

Knowing it was the Christmas holiday, we then waited till Dec. 26 to call again. Again, no returned calls. We also emailed Sen. Shaheen's press office per request with a detailed message about what we were looking for. We also urged in the email that we would be happy to use a statement if the Senator was too busy to speak with us.

On Dec. 27 we called Sen. Hassan's DC office and were told to email Aaron Jacobs, a policy specialist. Here is a copy of the email:

"Hi Aaron

Was wondering if I could speak to Sen. Hassan regarding if she is for a border wall?

When she spoke with New Hampshire reporters after a trip to the U.S. Mexico border in May, she said 'With 76 percent of drug overdose deaths in New Hampshire in 2017 involving fentanyl, we must do more to disrupt the trafficking of this lethal drug, including smuggling by Mexican cartels.

'Over the course of the trip, I witnessed firsthand the challenges our law enforcement officials at the U.S.-Mexico border face every day as they work to detect, intercept, and halt the trafficking of fentanyl and other illicit drugs across the border. It's clear that we need more border patrol personnel, improved technology, and better infrastructure such as roads, fencing, and upgraded facilities.'

So given the flood of deadly fentanyl coming across our border would she not want a wall?

And specifically, why she thinks $6B for a wall is not a good idea at this time, but $25B was approved by Democrats earlier this year. I am on deadline so I would like quick turnaround if possible. Would rather talk to the senator, but if not possible, please send statement referencing answers to my questions."

On Jan. 3 we called Sen. Hassan's Washington office yet again and spoke for five minutes with staff regarding our request which was now more than 10 days old. This time we were told to speak to a different policy specialist, a Nicki Eshman. We sent her this email around 12:20 p.m."

"Hi Ricki

Have been trying to get a hold of Sen. Hassan for 10 days now specifically regarding shutdown over the wall.

Please see if I can arrange a 10 min interview with Sen Hassan.

Lastly on Monday I reached out yet again by phone to speak with Sen. Hassan, requesting a phone interview and letting her office know we would be doing a piece today on her regarding her office's lack of transparency and stonewalling on explaining her apparent flip-flopping on the border wall issue.

It should be noted that on Sen. Shaheen's website, she sounds like is in favor of a wall. She says this: "We must ensure law enforcement has adequate resources to keep us safe, and we must strengthen the infrastructure and technology necessary to combat transnational crime and prosecute national security threats."

If you want to give them a call, here's their numbers. Sen. Shaheen's Washington office is (202) 224-2841. Sen. Hassan's is (202) 224-3324.

And good luck!

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