Absentee on the Ballot: Fetterman Skipped Committee Meetings For Media Interviews and Vacation

John Fetterman has few official duties as Pennsylvania’s Lieutenant Governor. Still, the Senate hopeful has failed to show up for almost every meeting of two economic development committees he serves on, skipping meetings to conduct media interviews, go on vacation, or do nothing at all.

Since 2019, Fetterman has missed 11 out of 13 meetings of the Pennsylvania Military Community Enhancement Commission and Local Government Advisory Committee, according to meeting notes and calendars provided by the Washington Free Beacon. He missed several meetings in October 2020 on days when he was giving interviews to MSNBC, Australia’s Sky News and the progressive podcast Pod Save America, the records show. He missed a military commission meeting in October 2019, only to travel to his hometown the next day for “family stuff.” He skipped a local government advisory committee meeting in June while on holiday on the Jersey shore. On some days he skips committee meetings and Fetterman’s calendar is empty.

It is the latest example of Fetterman’s truancy in public office. As mayor of Braddock, a town of fewer than 2,000 people, Fetterman missed more than a third of city council meetings Free beacon reported. As Lieutenant Governor, Fetterman did not appear for a third of Senate meetings. His absence drew scrutiny from Republicans and Democrats alike. Said State Senator Tony Williams, the Democrat leader Politically that Fetterman often failed to appear to chair the Senate, hampering his ability to develop relationships with state legislators. Jesse Brown, a former Braddock City Council president, said in 2015 that Fetterman “should have been present at all council meetings,” but dropped out after several confrontations about his duties as mayor.

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Fetterman has only four official duties as lieutenant governor, a “limited responsibility” job that earns him around $180,000 a year. In addition to chairing the Military Commission and Local Government Committee, he chairs the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons and oversees the Senate when it is in session. Fetterman has attended all meetings of the Parolees Board, where he has cast numerous votes for the release of first-degree murderers.

Fetterman has missed five out of six meetings of the Military Community Enhancement Commission, which seeks increased federal support for military facilities to protect jobs in Pennsylvania. Fetterman missed six out of seven meetings of the Local Government Advisory Committee, which coordinates with local leaders, businesses and other stakeholders to assess the “needs and challenges for local governments.”

According to session summaries obtained through requests for public records, the sessions are typically attended by about a dozen commissioners and other state officials. Fetterman attended the first meeting of both committees after taking office in 2019, but has not attended a meeting since. He will be marked “excused” for meetings he missed for the military commission. Notes from Local Government Advisory Committee meetings show that Fetterman was unable to attend most meetings. He had employees attend several of the meetings or call on his behalf.

A review of Fetterman’s work schedules sheds light on what else he was up to while truant from official duties. In some cases, Fetterman was busy with other government business. A military commission meeting on March 25, 2020 coincided with a COVID-19 working group meeting attended by Fetterman. Fetterman was unable to attend a Local Government Advisory Committee meeting on June 17, 2020 because he was attending a cabinet meeting with Gov. Tom Wolf (D.).

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But more often, Fetterman missed meetings for other events unrelated to his official duties as lieutenant governor. He skipped a meeting of the Military Enhancement Commission on Oct. 24, 2019 to travel to his hometown of Braddock for “family stuff,” his calendars show. Fetterman avoided a military commission meeting on October 15, 2020, but gave interviews to Australia’s Sky News and progressive pod Save America podcast both before and after the event to discuss the 2020 presidential election. Nothing else was on Fetterman’s calendar when he missed the April 22, 2021 commission meeting. He skipped a meeting on Oct. 28, 2021, but attended a parole board merits review hearing hours later.

Fetterman missed the October 20, 2020 Local Government Advisory Committee meeting but gave an interview to MSNBC. He missed the meetings on March 31, 2021 and November 16, 2021, although his calendar shows no personal or business commitment for those dates. During the committee’s last meeting on June 21, 2022, he was on holiday on the Jersey Shore. Fetterman was accompanied on this trip by a Pennsylvania State Police security detail, who charged taxpayers $1,200 for hotels, meals, and car rentals, according to government records.

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Both the Pennsylvania Military Community Enhancement Commission and the Local Government Advisory Committee oversee local economic development issues, which Fetterman touted as Braddock mayor and on the campaign trail. He ran a campaign ad titled “Forgotten Places,” a tribute to “Pennsylvania cities that feel like the best days of their communities are a generation behind.”

At meetings Fetterman missed, the military commission discussed grants to Pennsylvania military facilities, possible closures of military medical clinics, and investments in infrastructure to support the state’s military outposts. At the Local Government Advisory Committee meetings, participants discussed the response to the Covid-19 pandemic, police reform and federal funding through the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan, two bills supported by Democrats. At the June 21, 2022 meeting, which Fetterman skipped in lieu of furlough, the committee discussed housing assistance, another issue Fetterman reportedly supports as an official.

Fetterman’s campaign spokesman, Joe Calvello, called claims that Fetterman had shied away from his committee duties a “ridiculous lie by Dr. Oz and his allies”. He said Fetterman was “represented by senior officials at meetings he was unable to attend” for the local government advisory committee. While Fetterman remains on the Military Enhancement Commission, Calvello said he transferred his chairmanship to a former state senator in 2019 to allow veterans affairs experts “more direct oversight” of the commission. Calvello also noted that Fetterman transferred $145,000 of the Lieutenant Governor’s office budget to the organization’s mission.


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