Report: Wisconsin House Democrats Have Constantly Abused Proxy Voting for Long Weekends

FILE - In this Wednesday, March 10, 2021 file photo, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., finishes the vote to approve a landmark $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, at the Capitol in Washington. On Friday, March 12, 2021, The Associated Press reported on stories circulating online incorrectly asserting the …
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Every member of Wisconsin’s Democratic Congressional delegation has been abusing their proxy voting ability in the House of Representatives, according to a report.

The report indicates Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI), Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) have abused their proxy to do something other than their job in Congress to vote.

Dan O’Donnell, host of The Dan O’Donnell Show, first shed light on Kind’s alleged gross abuse of proxy voting during his Tuesday show, followed by a report published at the Maclver Institute.

Kind is Wisconsin’s longest-serving Democrat congressman. The report claims he has been able to keep a low enough profile in the state that no one is able to name him, also claiming he is not “known as the hardest worker in Washington.”

The report claims over the last year, since the coronavirus pandemic began, Kind has turned “invisibility into an art form” as he has constantly abused proxy voting and allegedly has not been to Washington to cast votes in person

“Kind has seemingly used the proxy vote to take 12 long weekends, a monthlong summer vacation late August,” in addition to allowing himself to take a “two-week break for Thanksgiving before apparently ending his year on December 7 and having a proxy vote for him until after the Christmas recess.”

According to the report, Kind has set an example for the other Democrats, and the rest of the “delegation has falsely claimed to be unable to travel to Washington because of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The House clerk related how members of Congress can use proxy voting under the current and previous congress:

Pursuant to House Resolution 8, 117th Congress, and House Resolution 965, 116th Congress, and the covered periods designated by the Speaker, the Office of the Clerk is verifying and making available certain letters designating, changing, and revoking the authority for remote voting by proxy. Members designated as proxies may only cast votes on behalf of other Members once they have received separate exact instruction with respect to each vote.

Republicans have always objected to the use of proxy voting. The Republicans have objected and have even sued House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. Recently, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said during a press conference Republicans will end proxy voting in the House when Republicans are in the majority. McCarthy believes the best way to get the country back to normal is “leading by example.”

“Ron Kind has clearly demonstrated that he abused the proxy voting system to take extended time off from his duties for paid long weekends and extended absences, not to promote COVID safety,” Derrick Van Orden, who is running against Kind in the upcoming midterm election, said in a statement. “This is a gross abuse of the trust of his constituents, and Kind’s attempts to make excuses for his blatant misuse of proxy voting do not meet the factual record and WI-03 knows it.”

He later added, “Ron Kind continued to collect his $174,000 salary the entire time he had other members of Congress do his job. This is another example of Washington DC at its worst, with Ron Kind leading the charge. Wisconsin deserves better.”

According to the report, another Wisconson Democrat, Rep. Mark Pocan, in May of last year gave the House clerk his first proxy vote in which he cited, “he was unable to physically attend proceedings in the House Chamber due to the ongoing public health emergency” and gave Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) the power to vote for him. The report indicated Pocan, about a month later, “decided that he was able to attend proceedings” and took the power away from Raskin.

In July of last year, the congressman again gave his proxy voting power to Raskin, claiming the “ongoing public health emergency,” and again took it back roughly a month later. On September 15, he yet again gave his voting power to Raskin, who continued to have proxy voting power for Pocan until January 3 when it expired at the end of the 116th Congress.

Pelosi then reauthorized the use of proxy voting in the 117th Congress, according to House Resolution eight. According to the report, Pocan then designated Raskin as his proxy on January 15, and he has continued to be his proxy after another letter from the congressman from April 19 citing the same “ongoing public health emergency.”

O’Donnell confronted Pocan about his proxy voting. The congressman claimed Raskin was only his proxy “in case [he] needed one.” Pocan had also “hurled a stream of ad hominem attacks and claimed to have been voting in person throughout the pandemic,” the report said.

Pocan refused to answer questions about why he issued statements to the House clerk for proxy voting if he had been voting in-person.

Wisconsin Republican Rep. Bryan Steil said, “[Proxy voting] is beyond being taken advantage of.” The report said, Steil has not used proxy voting at all.

Another Wisconsin Republican who refused to use the proxy voting system, Rep. Mike Gallagher, said, “It’s a huge scandal,” adding, “Members have been signing their names to a straight-up lie.”

Wisconsin Democrat Rep. Gwen Moore had designated Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) to be her proxy on May 26, 2020, citing her inability to “physically attend proceedings in the House Chamber due to the ongoing public health emergency,” according to the original report.

In December, Moore reportedly announced she tested positive for coronavirus. The report claims, because House Speaker Pelosi had one of the slimmest majorities, she needed Moore in Washington to vote in-person. Pelosi needed all the votes she could get to keep her speakership after the Republicans voted in force for McCarthy. Though at the time, the new 117th Congress did not have proxy voting. The report states, once she had the votes to keep her position, “Pelosi authorized proxy votes in the 117th Congress, and Moore designated Beyer as her proxy on January 15.”

Moore then “had revoked this on February 2, then reinstated a proxy on February 17 before revoking it again on April 20,” according to the report. “May 9, she designated a proxy again but then revoked this designation eight days later, on Monday.”

The report shows Moore and Kind had the same pattern of “designation and then revocation” in a small period of time since Pelosi started allowing proxy voting.

Kind designated a proxy on Friday, June 19, and revoked it on the next Friday, June 26. On July 20, Kind again designated a proxy and, on the same exact day, revoked the proxy.

Again, the report shows, Monday, July 27, Kind designated a proxy but revoked the proxy two days later on Wednesday, July 29. Shortly after, Kind had again designated a proxy on Saturday, August 22, but kept this one effective until September 15.

Looking closer to the clerk’s records, he came back the following Monday, September 21, to designate the proxy again only to revoke it two days later, on September 23.

Kind continued this routine throughout the rest of the 116th Congress, ending his last vote by proxy designation on December 20.

The report noted one of Kind’s proxy designations went through Thanksgiving, questioning whether Kind simply wanted to have a long holiday break.

“When the new Congress was sworn in, Kind designated a proxy on January 21—the day after President Biden’s inauguration—and kept the proxy designation in place until February 23,” the report stated.

The report later added, “When the weather started to warm up a little in March, Kind returned to his pattern of designating a proxy on Mondays,” which Kind had done in March twice.

Kind did not respond to the request from the original report asking about his proxy patterns, allegedly using a proxy voter when he “didn’t feel like making the constant trips between Wisconsin and Washington.”

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