With the LA Mayoral primary now only about a month and a half away and the race now virtually neck to neck between Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA) and Developer Rick Caruso according to the latest polls, both frontrunners are now being more closely scrutinized.
Their pasts have especially been looked at. Bass has had something of a radical past and previously blew any chance of becoming President Joe Biden’s Vice President or landing any position in his cabinet due to prior comments about Fidel Castro and praising deceased communist leaders. Caruso has also had some controversies brought up, most prominent being when he was on the USC’s Board of Trustees and how they handled the George Tyndall sexual abuse scandal.
This week, the big thing has been about attendance records in their respective posts. The LA Times on Monday brought to light that, while on the Los Angeles Police Commission, Caruso missed 38% of the meetings. As the article points out, that while he attended most early on, he was only coming to every other one during the last few years.
While, yes, missing that many meetings on the surface is not ideal, Caruso has countered his attendance record by saying that not only did he make it to every meeting with a critical vote or meeting where the Commission would have been hampered without him being there, but that he also spent 15 to 20 hours a week working closely with police by going to roll calls, community events, and other LAPD events. When he was Commission President the first few years, the volunteer position basically amounted to a full-time job as there were so many non-meeting things to do and, with changes made, requiring attendance every meeting wasn’t a must.
“We had a good commission, things were in good shape, the department was rolling forward,” Caruso said. “So I was there when I needed to be there. I never missed a critical meeting. I worked too hard to get the department to where we were.”
The Times was correct in pointing out his attendance record at meetings, as well as his commitment to the Commission by never missing a vote or critical meeting. However, they missed a huge part. With Caruso making votes in his position, Bass really has not been so great at that.
Bass amongst the worst Congressional Members at attending votes
According to Congressional records, Bass, between being sworn in in January 2011 to April 2022, has missed over 8% of total roll call votes in her lifetime. While that may not seem that bad on the surface, it’s actually one of the worst attendance records out of all current members of Congress. The average for a member of Congress is 2.1%. While there are multiple valid excuses for missing votes, like deaths in the family, being sick, and other emergencies, it’s kind of hard to justify that high of a percentage as a total average for over a decade.
In 2019, her best voting record year so far, she was still the 3rd worst offender in the California congregation missing over 6% of votes. At her worst, like long stretches in 2015, 2016, and 2019, she wasn’t there for over 20% of the time. In 2019, that figure hit 29% for a stretch.
And the problem is that it is consistent, as she has always been consistently above that 2.1% threshold of being worse than average. In recent years her attendance has gotten better and she has been making more votes, but it is still sporadic.
“Every member of Congress will have a bad voting quarter or two due to an emergency or something coming up like a critical fact finding mission,” said Amanda, an assistant lobbyist in Washington who only wished to use her first name in a Globe interview on Monday. “That’s fine. That happens. The real challenge is finding those that they keep missing a lot. I wouldn’t even put missing 2.1% as a bad median point. I’d probably say 5% or more. But Congresswoman Bass still is above that. She still, on average, misses more than most.”
“For a lobbyist, you can’t rely on talking with them if they miss so many. And if you are a constituent, it can be harder to trust them if they aren’t representing you to the best of their ability.”
The Los Angeles Mayoral Primary is to be held on June 7th.