DNC chairman: Dems could boycott Benghazi panel if unevenly split

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Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said Wednesday that Democrats shouldn’t engage in the GOP-led select committee to investigate the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi if it’s not evenly divided between the parties.

“If they want to make sure that it’s fair, there is no reason to reject the leaders’ request to have the committee evenly split. And I do think that our leadership should seriously consider not participating if the process is not going to be fair,” Wasserman Schultz told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor Breakfast on Wednesday.

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House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) unveiled legislation to create the special committee Tuesday night, which proposed a 12-person panel consisting of seven Republicans and five Democrats.

Democrats criticized the proposal, with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) issuing a letter to Boehner Wednesday morning in which they called for an even split on the committee and decried what they called the “extreme and counter-productive partisanship” underlying the GOP investigations into the attacks.

At the breakfast, Wasserman Schultz echoed charges from other Democrats that the Republican focus on Benghazi is a an attempt to excite the GOP base in advance of the midterm elections.

She said Republicans have now turned back to Benghazi because the party’s battle against ObamaCare, which once ignited the base, no longer seemed viable.

“It is nothing more than a political ploy, because continuing to focus obsessively on repealing the Affordable Care Act has lost its luster even among their own party members and even among their partisans,” she said.

In a statement on her comments, Republican National Committee spokesman Jahan Wilcox accused Wasserman Schultz of "trying to protect President Obama and Hillary Clinton from a fair hearing on why the White House isn’t being transparent about Benghazi." 

He added: "In a few months, Americans will finally hold President Obama and the Democrat Party accountable for ObamaCare, blocking the Keystone XL pipeline and the rest of their big-government agenda that is bankrupting the country.”

—This piece was updated at 2:46 p.m. to reflect comment from the RNC.

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