AT ISSUE: PHONE COMPANY BILL
Donnelly Missed Final Vote, But Voted Against Its Adoption
On Harris: "I'm very disappointed he's taking this approach"
Rep. Jeff Harris criticized Attorney General rival Rep. Margaret Donnelly for missing a vote on a bill that Democrats believe will lead to higher rates for telephone customers.
But Donnelly tells the KY3 Political Notebook that she voted against the bill (HB 1779) during the adoption phase, and accidentally missed the final vote because she was absorbed in preparing for final budget negotiations.
"I'm surprised and very disappointed he's taking this approach," Donnelly said. "As the former Minority Leader, he knows the procedure. He knows that when you vote no on adoption, you are voting no for the bill not to become law," she added. "I stepped off the floor for a bit, and was distracted on the budget, and forgot they were bringing it back for the second vote," she explained.
Harris sent out a release Tuesday taking a rare swipe at Donnelly's missed vote. He accused her of ducking a vote on a bill that will raise phone rates. He also claimed to be the only candidate for Attorney General "willing to stand up for consumers."
"Representative Margaret Donnelly ducked the vote on final passage of the measure. The record shows that Donnelly cast votes immediately before and immediately after the final vote on HB 1779, and was inexplicably absent from the House floor when it came time to cast a vote on behalf of Missouri consumers," Harris' campaign said in a release.
Donnelly made clear that she opposed the bill and regrets not making it back to the floor -- yet she made clear "there's no difference between the first adopted vote, and second vote."
She wouldn't speculate on why Harris took aim at her for this but said she felt her integrity had been attacked.
"Donnelly was also missing for a previous vote on HB 1779 on March 6. She has taken $3,850 from the telecom industry since 2002, including $1,275 during her Attorney General campaign from AT&T, which is the primary beneficiary of HB 1779," Harris' release went on.
"In 2007, Donnelly voted for SB 284, which allowed a utility regulations bill that changed state law to allow cable providers to negotiate statewide video franchise contracts, instead of negotiating contracts with municipalities and counties. Consumer advocates said that bill would directly benefit large cable providers like AT&T," the Harris campaign added.
Donnelly said donations she's received has nothing to do with her voting record. "My vote is clearly not for sale," Donnelly said. "I'm really disappointed that he chose to question my integrity and bring up money from companies," she added.
On why she opposed the bill, Donnelly replied: "This is going to cause rate increases for consumers, it will cause a significant number of consumers to have rate increases, but we're not exactly sure where."
Last week, Sen. Chris Koster voted for this same bill in the Senate. According to Harris, "this vote is the latest in a rash of pro-corporate interest votes that Koster has cast this session."