SPRINGFIELD - GOP nominee for governor Bill Brady recently missed more than 200 votes as a state senator during the waning weeks of the legislative session, a Daily Herald review of voting records found.
And, for that matter, the governor himself, Democrat Pat Quinn, has been criticized for not showing enough leadership in-person in Springfield during that period, in which lawmakers failed to agree on a budget for the cash-strapped state.
Hundreds of roll call votes from the hectic two-week period covering late April and early May are riddled with Brady omissions. The Bloomington state senator missed 207 votes during that period and cast 239.
For instance, Brady, who's campaigned heavily against taxes, missed a rare chance to actually end a tax. He's not recorded as voting on a proposal to do away with the sales tax imposed by the DuPage Water Commission. That proposal is now in Quinn's hands.
The review focused solely on final Senate action, votes that sent proposed laws to the governor's desk or onto the House for consideration.
Brady's seat on the Senate floor was noticeably empty during several session days, prompting the review. Voting records at the Capitol were checked and then double checked against tabulations on the Illinois General Assembly's website revealing Brady missed large blocks of votes and on some days didn't vote on anything at all.
When recently asked about his absences, he laughed and insisted that he's meeting his commitments as an elected official.
"I'm balancing what I'm supposed to be doing. My responsibilities as a senator, I think, are being fulfilled," Brady told the Daily Herald after speaking with business leaders at a luncheon in Springfield.
Brady's Twitter account reveals his whereabouts for one of the days. On April 28, Brady didn't vote on any of the proposals during that day's Senate session, which mostly covered the noon hour. Shortly before noon, Brady tweeted that he had just finished speaking at a state park district association conference and was headed to another speaking engagement with the Farmers Insurance Group.
The weeks in question were considered a key period when lawmakers rushed to try to make their planned May 7 deadline, which they failed to do. Lawmakers are expected back at the Capitol next week.
Brady did vote on big-ticket proposals during those two weeks. For instance, he voted against the Senate version of the state budget that would have let the governor delay making pension payments. And he supported a plan to overhaul McCormick Place.
A curious interruption appears in Brady's voting records. He was largely absent during a 33-vote span on April 27, casting only two "yes" votes while missing all others. The two proposals would make it illegal to own a monkey and require a bittering agent be added to antifreeze in an effort to reduce the number of pets and children poisoned by the automotive coolant.
Both were heralded by the Illinois Humane Society, an organization that heavily criticized Brady for proposing a measure that would allow mass euthanasia of stray dogs and cats in carbon monoxide chambers. The two votes combined with others previously on animal-rights issues could allow Brady to tout a 100 percent voting record by the Humane Society.
When asked if those votes were made to save political face with animal-rights groups, his campaign spokesman said Brady believed they were the "humane approach."
Meanwhile, during that same two-week period, Gov. Quinn wasn't exactly a fixture at the Capitol.
Quinn's time was split between Chicago and Springfield, according to his government schedule obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. Quinn, for example, visited a sick soldier, stopped by a film festival, announced a new jobs initiative, attended a major biotechnology convention and met with several lawmakers.
Some lawmakers have criticized Quinn and said he needed to take a more active leadership role with budget talks. After a recent closed-door meeting with House Democrats, Marengo state Rep. Jack Franks quipped, "It's nice of the governor to show."
Quinn campaign spokeswoman Mica Matsoff countered that the governor "has made it clear his first and foremost priority is governing." She argued that the governor's countless job announcements and other media appearances were examples of Quinn focusing on the state - not politics.