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Karen Harrington, a Republican setting her sights on the congressional seat held by Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, says the Congresswoman spends too much time hob-knobbing across the country and not enough time casting votes.
Harrington has a "Where is Debbie?" post on her website that includes a map of the U.S. marking the states where Wasserman Schultz has visited. In Florida the map shows a sign reading "Debbie’s District abandoned."
Harrington said Wasserman Schultz is "more concerned with headlining fundraisers for President (Barack) Obama and the DNC than she is with fulfilling the responsibilities owed to her constituents," adding, "In 2011, Wasserman Schultz missed 62 congressional votes — one of the worst records of a member of Congress."
We decided to see for ourselves: How many votes did Wasserman Schultz miss in 2011, and how did she stack up with her peers?
We soon discovered that the numbers add up quickly when you’re talking about 435 members of Congress and more than 900 votes. But a web team at the New York Times tracks congressional votes in an online database.
The New York Times posted an analysis in October that showed nearly 20 members had missed more than 10 percent of the votes in 2011 -- mostly due to their own illness or that of a family member. Wasserman Schultz was not on that list.
There were some not so-surprising names included. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., who was shot Jan. 8, missed the most. Presidential candidates Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and Ron Paul, R-Texas, were also on the list. And Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., "might have been the first paternity leave for a gay member of Congress," the Times wrote.
The article reflected about 814 votes -- not the full year.
We contacted Derek Willis, a web developer at the New York Times, who shared internal data with us that showed 948 votes between January and Dec. 20, 2011. The votes are roll call votes and omit voice votes or unanimous consent.
Willis told us in an e-mail that the voting data, which comes from the Clerk of the House, showed that Wasserman Schultz missed 62 votes, which equals 6.4 percent of all House votes in 2011. She tied for 45th among the top missers of votes in the House. The median was 17 missed votes or about 1.8 percent.
The New York Times’ analysis showed that Wasserman Schultz didn’t top the Florida delegation for missed votes. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami, missed the most votes -- she ranked No. 11. Wilson had gallbladder surgery in October, according to the Miami Herald’s "Naked Politics" blog.
Three other members of Florida’s Congressional delegation missed more than Wasserman Schultz: C.W. "Bill" Young, R-Indian Shores; Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami; and Kathy Castor, D-Tampa.
Harrington said, "In 2011, Wasserman Schultz missed 62 congressional votes — one of the worst records of any member of Congress." She’s right that Wasserman Schultz missed 62 votes. That means Wasserman Schultz is No. 45 among members who have missed votes, out of 435 sitting members, a fairly high ranking. On the other hand, she's not even the worst in the state and has a better voting record than four other members of the Florida delegation. So the record is mixed on whether she is "one of the worst." We rate the statement Half True.
YouTube, "Where is Debbie?" Jan. 8, 2012
Karen Harrington, "Where is Debbie?"Jan. 9, 2012
New York Times,"Congress’ Voting records show few with perfect attendance,"Oct. 31, 2011
Miami Herald’s Naked Politics blog, "Frederica Wilson, recovering from surgery, misses the most October votes,"Nov. 1, 2011
Govtrack.us, Statistics of missed votes, Accessed Jan. 11, 2012
YouTube, "Jim Davis and his chair,"2006 campaign
Broward-Palm Beach New Times’ The Daily Pulp blog, "Frederica Wilson had worst attendance out of Florida’s Congressional delegation,"Dec. 29, 2011
Interview, Derek Willis, web developer at the New York Times, Jan. 11-13, 2012
Interview, Jonathan Beeton, spokesman for U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Jan. 11-12, 2012
Interview, Eric Parker, spokesman for U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, Jan. 13, 2012
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