Congresswoman Dina Titus yesterday had to explain a sole dissenting vote cast as a state senator when she and Sharron Angle were both serving in the legislature in 1999. Titus found herself indirectly indicted by a Harry Reid campaign ad attacking Angle for being one of only two members of the state assembly to vote against the same bill.
As originally introduced, the bill would have set up a $200,000 account intended to cover the costs state agencies incur when doing criminal background checks of volunteers who work with children.
The Reid attack ad says Angle, by being one of two members of the state Assembly to vote against the bill, “voted to protect the privacy of sex offenders instead of the safety of our kids.” PolitiFact called the ad an “oversimplification … but Mostly True“.
Here is the ad:
When Politifact contacted Titus’ staff for an explanation of her ‘no’ vote, a spokesman said she voted against the bill because the amendments added in the Senate had “watered down” the bill by protecting nonprofit groups from liability such that it “removed any incentive for organizations to use it.”
The bill was first introduced to the Judiciary Committee, of which Angle was a member. The original intent was to pass legislation that would help nonprofit organizations screen potential volunteers who would be working directly with children. The measure provided money to cover the $40 cost associated with performing background checks.
The minutes from the committee meeting show that Angle expressed numerous concerns about the bill, including that of privacy and liability. She also wondered whether what began as a voluntary background check program for non-profits would at some point become mandatory and whether there were First Amendment issues at stake.
Ultimately, the committee unanimously approved an amended version of the bill that changed the funding source for the $200,000 but left all other language intact. The bill was passed 40-2 on the Assembly floor. Angle was one of the two dissenting votes.
The bill then went to the Senate, where it was amended further and then passed by a 20-1 vote.
When asked yesterday whether Titus agreed with the Reid ad that a ‘no’ vote was equivalent to a vote “to protect the privacy of sex offenders instead of the safety of our kids,” Titus spokesman Andrew Stoddard told the Las Vegas Review-Journal the congresswoman voted for the bill in committee but objected to a Republican amendment that “weakened the bill by holding non-profits harmless if they did not take advantage of free funding to help them screen out sex offenders, allowed a sex offender to work with kids, and something happened.”
Titus’ office emphasized that she voted against the amended version of the bill, which was different than the bill on which Angle voted.