To commemorate the 90th Birthday of state Senator Fred Risser (D-Madison), the nation’s longest serving state lawmaker, a number of Wisconsin media outlets have produced a series of puff pieces for the event. Last week, Wisconsin Public Radio’s Joy Cardin Show started it off by pointing out the numerous legislative hits and misses in he has had in 61 years in state government.
It also made the false claim, that he had never missed a vote in 50 years.
Born and raised in Madison, Risser served in the U.S. Navy in World War II and became a practicing attorney before his election to the Wisconsin Assembly at age 29.
Risser, the longest-serving state lawmaker in the country, shows no signs of slowing down. He hasn’t missed a senate vote in 50 years. He credits his wife, Nancy, for that.
This was followed up by the state Associated Press on Sunday, which ran with that fact in its headline:
One small problem, there’s a rather prominent vote any Wisconsin political watcher or journalist knows for a fact Fred Risser missed. In fact, every Democrat in the state Senate missed it; it was for AB 11 during the January 2011 Special Session of the Wisconsin state legislature.
You might know it better as the vote which saw Act 10 pass the chamber.
Risser; along with 13 of his colleagues, was hiding out somewhere near Rockford, Illinois. Upon passage in the state Senate, all 14 of the so-called “Fleebaggers” returned to the state of Wisconsin. His absence is well categorized in the official State Senate Journal, where according to Senate Resolution 14 he was deemed “Absent Without Leave.”
As for the roll call itself, as you image below shows, Risser is clearly marked as “Absent.”
That sure looks like a missed vote to us. One which really didn’t require a lot of fact checking either.