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With a new report calling her Florida's most liberal member of the U.S. House, Rep. Kathy Castor said the label doesn't fit because she broke with her party on a key issue: the bailout for financial firms.
Castor, who represents portions of Hillsborough, Pinellas and Manatee counties, was quoted in the Tampa Tribune last month saying she was "the only Democrat to vote against the Wall Street bailout."
Castor spokeswoman Ellen Gedalius told PolitiFact Florida that the partial quote omitted some important context. She said that the congresswoman was saying she was the only Democrat in Florida to vote against the Troubled Assets Relief Program, an emergency federal plan in the fall of 2008 intended to keep the financial system from collapsing.
"The context was a discussion on the Florida delegation," said Gedalius, "so her comment about being the only Democrat to vote against TARP was in that context of being the only Florida Democrat to vote against it."
Tampa Tribune reporter William "Windy" March, who wrote the story, said he did not want to characterize the quote or its context.
"She didn’t explicitly say and I didn’t explicitly ask,'' he told Politifact Florida.
Still, Gedalius' explanation matches our reading of the Tribune story. It is headlined "Rep. Castor disputes liberal ranking," and is primarily about her political leanings relative to other members of the Florida delegation to the U.S. House. The article attributed the ranking to the National Journal, an influential Washington-based publication that covers politics and national affairs.
The TARP was proposed by President George W. Bush's Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who sought congressional approval for $700 billion to buy bad assets from the nation's banks.
The first vote took place on Sept. 29, 2008, when the U.S. House of Representatives rejected the bill in a stunning 205-228 vote. Ninety-five of the no votes came from Democrats, including Castor, who indeed was the only Florida Democrat to vote against it.
The second vote came just days later when on Oct. 3 the House reversed itself, 263-171, in favor of another version of the same bill that had been approved by the Senate.
Again, Castor was the lone Florida Democrat in the House to vote against the measure. This is what she said at the time: "After thoughtful consideration and review, I voted against President Bush's $700 billion bailout. The Bush plan does not provide sufficient help to middle-class families in the housing squeeze or taxpayer protections.”
So Castor is right, with the caveat that she was referring to Florida Democrats.
And so we rate her claim True.
E-mail exchange with Castor spokeswoman Ellen Gedalius, from Tampa, March 19, 2010.
Tampa Tribune, Rep. Castor dispute liberal ranking, Feb. 27, 2010.
Interview with William "Windy" March, Tampa Tribune, March 23, 2010.
Forbes website, What Does Troubled Asset Relief Program – TARP mean?, consulted March 19, 2010.
New York Times, House Rejects Bailout Package, 228-205; Stocks Plunge, Sept. 29, 2008.
Govtrack website, House Vote #674, Sept. 29, 2008, voted no in state-by-state breakdown
House of Representatives Clerk registry, Sept. 29. 2008, To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide earnings assistance, etc., roll call 674, voted no to HR 3997.
Congresswoman Castor’s statement on H.R. 3997 _ Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, Sept. 29, 2008.
Govtrack Web site, House Vote #781, Oct. 3, 2008, voted no in state-by-state breakdown
House of Representatives Clerk registry, Oct. 3, 2008, Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, roll call 681, voted no to HR 1424.
Office of Rep. Kathy Castor, Castor Endorses Wall Street Reform Overhaul, Dec. 8, 2009 press release
Office of Rep. Kathy Castor, Congresswoman Castor’s statement on Senate Amendments to H.R., 3997 _ Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, Oct. 3, 2008.
Office of Rep. Kathy Castor, Castor Amendment Included in Wall Street Reform Bill to Aid Struggling Homeowners, Dec. 14, 2009 press release.
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