Pennsylvania Democratic Senate nominee John Fetterman failed to preside over 33% of the state’s Senate legislative sessions as lieutenant governor, but holds a perfect attendance record as chairman of the state’s Board of Pardons.
Since taking office in 2019, Fetterman has presided over the state Senate 131 days out of the 196 days the legislature was in session from Jan. 15, 2019, to July 8, 2022, according to a review of Senate session journals and video feeds. State Senate journals are currently unavailable for April 13 to July 8, 2022, but the Senate Republican Policy Development & Research Office reviewed video recordings of the sessions showing Fetterman’s absences.
Some of Fetterman’s absences from his duties as lieutenant governor came during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, when he showed up for only 50% of the sessions. In 2021, he missed nearly 30% of the meetings, and in 2022 has only attended 44%.
In May, Fetterman suffered from a stroke and had to undergo surgery to have a pacemaker implanted, which may account for many absences this year.
During his tenure as lieutenant governor, Fetterman has not had to use his constitutional prerogative to cast a tie-breaking vote in the state Senate.
Joe Calvello, a spokesman for Fetterman’s campaign, told Fox News Digital that the Senate nominee “takes his constitutional duty serving as president of the Pennsylvania Senate incredibly seriously” and that he is “proud of his record as mayor of Braddock,” insisting that his absence from Senate sessions in the spring of 2020 were out of his control due to efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“John takes his constitutional duty serving as president of the Pennsylvania Senate incredibly seriously,” Calvello said. “During the spring of 2020, beginning in March, much of the commonwealth, including John’s home county of Allegheny, and Dauphin, the county where the state Capitol is located, were under restrictive red and yellow phases to stop the spread of COVID-19. After Allegheny County and Dauphin County returned to green phase status on June 19, Fetterman returned to presiding.”
As president of the Pennsylvania state Senate, which allowed members to vote remotely for several months during the coronavirus pandemic, Fetterman’s duty is to “take the chair on every legislative day,” according to rules of the Senate of Pennsylvania, which stipulates that the president pro tempore presides in the lieutenant governor’s absence.
In 2019, Fetterman marked a near-perfect attendance for legislative sessions held by the Senate, presiding over 48 of the 51 sessions. However, in 2020, amid the spread of COVID-19, Fetterman only appeared for 50% of the Senate’s legislative sessions, presiding over 26 of the 52 that were held. The following year, in 2021, Fetterman presided over 42 of the 59 legislative sessions held by the Senate, marking a 21% increase from the year prior.
As for the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons, which is chaired by Fetterman, the lieutenant governor has had perfect attendance at the quarterly meetings even after his stroke. According to documents obtained through a public records request that were reviewed by Fox News Digital, Fetterman attended every Board of Pardons meeting from March 2019 through December 2021, and video shows him in the April and August meetings this year. Fetterman also attended the June meeting of the board, a source confirmed to Fox News Digital, though video was not available for that meeting.
In addition to his absence from presiding over the Senate, Fetterman, during his tenure as mayor of Braddock, a small borough located in the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh, failed to attend several monthly meetings, attracting criticism from his successor.
Fetterman’s absence from several of the gatherings held by the council, which meets at least once a month, were recorded from 2006 – his first year in office – to his final year as mayor in 2018. As mayor, Fetterman missed at least 53 Braddock City Council meetings during his 13-year tenure, according to meeting minutes obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
“John is proud of his record as mayor of Braddock and the honor of having been chosen four times by the people of Braddock to serve them,” Calvello added. “During his tenure as mayor, John succeeded in building the Braddock Community Center, bringing new businesses, jobs, affordable housing, restoring affordable health care to Braddock after their hospital closed, and confronting the gun violence epidemic – with Braddock going 5 ½ years without the loss of life through gun violence. Unfortunately, for much of his tenure, John’s efforts to revitalize Braddock were resisted by the Borough Council who made clear they had no intention of working with him.”
Fetterman, who will face off against Pennsylvania GOP Senate nominee Dr. Mehmet Oz in the state’s Nov. 8 general election, has been criticized for his absences at the council meetings by his mayoral successor.
Braddock Mayor Chardaé Jones, who filled Fetterman’s position in 2019 after he was elected lieutenant governor, brought into question Fetterman’s “relationship” with residents in the borough due to his absence from council meetings.
“When you’re not present at council meetings, there’s not much of a relationship there,” Jones said, according to a 2021 piece from Politico. She also insisted, according to the outlet, that she never had a conversation with Fetterman when she took over his post.
According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Fetterman cast only one vote during the 13 years he served as mayor. That vote came in 2012 when he “helped the borough council choose a president,” according to the Tribune.
Last week, Fetterman agreed to a televised debate with Oz on Oct. 25, just two weeks before Election Day.