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Grayson skips votes for Vegas trip months after blasting foe for missing votes


Two months after U.S. Senate candidate Alan Grayson blasted his Democratic primary opponent for missing votes in Congress, Grayson himself skipped a pair of votes last week to spend time in Las Vegas.

Grayson, a congressman from Orlando and an attorney, was a featured speaker at a trial lawyers conference at Wynn Las Vegas, resort hotel and casino. At the Mass Torts Made Perfect conference, Grayson gave a speech about a type of civil lawsuit dealing with whistleblower claims that help the government stop fraud and recover taxpayer funds.

But in delivering the speech at 9:45 a.m. on April 21, Grayson had to skip two votes in the House that morning. 

Grayson was one of 15 House members who missed the vote on HR 4890, which would impose a ban on bonuses for IRS officials until there is a strategy to deal with customer service problems there. The bill passed on a 260-158 vote. All 158 no votes were Democrats, including 8 of 10 Democrats from Florida in the U.S. House. U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, D-Tallahassee, voted with Republicans in supporting the bill.

Later, Grayson missed the vote on HR 3724, which would among other things bar the IRS from re-hiring workers who were fired for cause. That bill passed by a 345-78 margin with Grayson among 10 members to miss the vote.

Grayson's campaign spokesman said Grayson committed to the Las Vegas speaking engagement a year earlier, not knowing the U.S. House would schedule votes for last Thursday. 

"Congressman Grayson had hoped to vote last Thursday and then give the speech, but when the Thursday schedule was announced last Wednesday, it became evident that that would not be feasible," David Damron said. "Congressman Grayson checked and found that neither Thursday vote was expected to be close, and then he honored his speaking commitment.  As anticipated, the first vote passed by a majority of approximately 100, and the second by a majority of almost 300."

Back in February, Grayson's campaign was not so forgiving when U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, missed 10 votes on Feb. 26. Murphy did not vote on HR 2406 and a series of amendments related to the bill. That legislation would allow more hunting on federal lands if it became law. The bill passed by a 242-161 vote with 30 members of Congress missing the vote.

On the day Murphy missed the votes, he was with President Barack Obama in Jacksonville touring Saft America, a lithium battery factory that Obama says benefited from his economic policies.

Grayson's campaign blasted Murphy for skipping the vote at the time. 

"While the rest of us did our job today, Murphy was copying Marco Rubio's MIA work habits," Grayson said in a statement on Feb. 26 blasting Murphy. "Florida deserves better than that in its next Senator."

Rubio's missed votes during the presidential campaign became a big topic for his critics he accused him of forsaking his Senate duties for his political ambitions. That has candidates running to replace him carefully watching each other’s voting records.

Since January, there has been 162 votes in the House, according to Grayson has missed 15, Murphy 12. U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Ponte Vedra Beach, has missed 3 votes since January, while Rep. David Jolly, R-Indian Shores, has not missed a single vote. Jolly and DeSantis are among five Republicans vying for the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate seat. Also running are Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera; Manatee County land developer Carlos Beruff and Orlando businessman Todd Wilcox.

Over their whole careers, Grayson and Murphy have almost the same miss percentage on votes in Congress. Grayson has missed 3.1 percent of votes in Congress since he was first elected in 2009, according to Murphy has missed 3.0 percent since he was elected in 2012. DeSantis has missed 1.1 percent of his votes since 2012. Jolly has missed 0.8 percent since he was elected in 2014.