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Reality Check: Johnson Ad Criticizes Feingold's Voting Record

Published On: Sep 16 2010 05:22:43 AM CDT   Updated On: Sep 16 2010 07:56:45 AM CDT

The We the People Wisconsin Fact Finder project continues with a question about Sen. Russ Feingold's record.

Mark from Verona asked, "How many times has Russ Feingold voted against his party's position?"

That's an issue also raised in a recent ad from Republican U.S. Senate candidate Ron Johnson, and WISC-TV looked into it for a "Reality Check."

In a TV ad that both mimics and mocks his opponent's recent ad, Johnson takes a few swipes at Feingold's record.

"Russ Feingold is a career politician who has not worked anywhere outside of politics," one person in the ad said. "Russ Feingold has never created a job. Russ Feingold has never met a payroll."

A WISC-TV analysis found this claim misleading.

First, Feingold has worked outside of politics. In fact, he was a lawyer working in Madison for four years before he ran for state Senate. He served in that capacity for 10 years before running and winning a seat in the U.S. Senate, which he has held ever since. A career politician? You could say that, but whether that's a good or a bad thing is up to voters to decide.

"Russ Feingold normally and almost always votes on party lines," said another person in the ad. "He's right in the Reid, Pelosi, Obama camp."

WISC-TV found this needs clarification.

During the most recent congressional session, with Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and President Barack Obama leading Democrats in Washington, the Washington Post found Feingold voted with his party 79.8 percent of the time. While that might sound high, it's the seventh lowest percentage of Republicans and Democrats in the Senate, and the third lowest Democrat.

He has differed on a number of items over time, WISC-TV reported. In this session he voted against the financial reform bill in Congress, which was strongly supported by Obama, and he was the only Democrat to do so. This did make it more difficult for Senate Democrats to get passage of the bill in that house.

Feingold did vote with the party on the health care and stimulus bills.

In the past, he's voted against the use of military force in Iraq and was the only U.S. senator to vote against the Patriot Act.

If you have a political question or a claim you'd like checked out, please send it to

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