Truth Needle: Dunn missed most votes of county-council members
A Seattle Times analysis finds true a claim by Bob Ferguson, the Democratic candidate for attorney general, that his Republican opponent Reagan Dunn "missed more votes at King County Council meetings than anyone else."
Seattle Times staff reporters
The Claim: During the first televised debate in the state attorney-general race last week, Democratic candidate Bob Ferguson said Republican opponent Reagan Dunn "missed more votes at King County Council meetings than anyone else on the council." Both Ferguson and Dunn are members of the Metropolitan King County Council.
What We Found: True.
Our analysis, based on records obtained from Clerk of the Council Anne Noris, found that Ferguson's claim is accurate.
Of a total 3,805 full-council votes during his tenure, Dunn missed 491, more than any other council member.
Jane Hague was next with 481 missed votes, followed by Pete von Reichbauer with 448 missed votes.
Larry Gossett missed the fewest votes in that time, with 163; Kathy Lambert and Julia Patterson were tied for the next best record with 243 missed votes each.
After the debate, Ferguson's campaign released a tally of votes at meetings of the full County Council, going back to 2005 when Dunn became a council member.
Our tally varied slightly, though, from Ferguson's.
Ferguson missed 245 votes, according to our analysis, which is 34 more than his campaign stated.
After rechecking numbers, Ferguson's campaign manager Mike Webb acknowledged the tallying error, saying it was not intentional. Ferguson's tally ranked him with the second fewest missed votes; ours put him fourth, behind Gossett, Lambert and Peterson.
Dunn contended that Ferguson cherry-picked statistics. He didn't count voting records in council committee meetings.
The council's eight committees often are crucial to the legislative process, Dunn said, as the venue where proposals are vetted and differences are frequently ironed out before legislation is presented to the full council.
By the time legislation reaches the full council, votes are often unanimous and perfunctory. Our analysis showed only 226 "nay" votes out of more than 33,000 cast at full council meetings since 2005.
As for his missed votes at full-council meetings, Dunn said: "I am always there for the votes that matter."
"Sometimes it's a better use of my time to step outside" the meetings, Dunn said, to confer with other council members or other interested parties even if that means missing votes on noncontroversial matters.
Bob Young: 206-464-2174 or email@example.com