Fact Check: ‘Absent Anna Brosche’ Mayoral Campaign Ad

Jan 28, 2019

A political action committee associated with Mayor Lenny Curry, Jacksonville on the Rise, is behind another attack ad against mayoral candidate and Councilwoman Anna Lopez Brosche.

Absent Anna Brosche” makes two allegations against Brosche that WJCT News has previously fact checked, in addition to these three:

1: She has skipped dozens of meetings on City Council.

2:  She missed “important votes on public health and safety.”

3: She skipped votes on bills she filed.

Watch: 'Absent Anna Brosche' PAC Ad

Skipped Dozens of City Council and Committee Meetings

The ad states Brosche “skipped dozens of meetings on City Council.”

City Council agendas show she missed five meetings over her four years on the Council. She was excused from those meetings, her spokeswoman Ryan Wiggins said because she was “serving the City of Jacksonville in a different capacity.”

Related: Jacksonville Election Voters' Guide

She is listed as excused on the agendas for meetings on these dates:

  • 11/10/2015
  • 6/13/2017
  • 9/18/2017
  • 5/8/2018
  • 11/13/2018

Brosche’s five missed Council meetings are in line with other Council members’ absences over the same time period, based on Council agendas that WJCT News reviewed.

WJCT News looked at the attendance records for all Council members. Here’s a look at the members who had the best and worst attendance over the time period examined:   

Most Missed Meetings Between 7/2015 - 10/2018:

Editor’s Note: Katrina Brown and Reggie Brown are suspended from City Council and are awaiting trial on fraud charges.

Best Attendance Between 7/2015 - 10/2018

WJCT News also reviewed the available meeting attendance records for the committees on which Brosche has served. Terms on committees begin in the summer and run for one year. Not all meeting agendas are on the city’s website.

In 2015-16 Brosche was on the Finance Committee and the Rules Committee. She missed one Rules Committee meeting on October 20, 2015.

In 2016-17 Brosche was on Finance and the Transportation, Energy, and Utilities committees. She missed one Transportation, Energy, and Utilities meeting on April 17, 2017.

In 2017-18, when Brosche was council president, she served on a handful of special committees, which have sporadic attendance records posted online.

In 2018-19 Brosche was on the Transportation, Energy and Utilities Committee and the Land Use and Zoning Committee. She missed a (TEU) meeting on Nov. 19, 2018, and missed Land Use and Zoning meetings on Aug. 27, Nov. 7, Nov. 20, and Dec. 4.

The total number of absences WJCT News counts from the available information is 11. WJCT News has asked for additional agendas from Council Secretary Cheryl Brown, but at the time of this story’s publication, it’s not clear how Jacksonville on the Rise arrived at a count of “dozens” of absences.  

WJCT News reached out to Tim Baker with the Curry campaign for clarification but had not received a response by the time of this story’s publication. This story will be updated if a response is received.

Missed Votes on Public Health and Safety Issues

The “Absent Anna Brosche” ad claims she missed votes on public health and safety and gives a specific date: May 8, 2018. That evening, the Council voted on extending the city’s opioid epidemic emergency room pilot program by six months and on new agreements with two additional hospitals. The plan was approved on a vote of 17-0.

Brosche was not present during this meeting.

Skipping Votes on Bills She's Filed

This claim refers to the Nov. 13, 2018, City Council meeting she missed. Her bill, which aimed at promoting transparency in city government, was on the table for a vote, but the bill was recommended to be re-referred, which means the Council sent it back to committee for further work. The final bill wasn’t voted on that night.

Emphasizing She Did Show up When it was Regarding Pay Increases

The ad emphasized that “when Brosche did show up it was to increase her pay, twice.”

This is the same charge that was made in the PAC’s previous “Jeopardy” attack ad, which sources a Florida Politics article from September 27, 2017, the day Council voted on the city budget.

As WJCT also reported, this claim of a pay increase refers to when Council members voted to up their salaries to what they would have been paid before 2010, when Council voted to reduce its own pay.

Referring to the second pay increase, the PAC is referencing to a withdrawn 2015 bill that called for the restoration of pay. Brosche was on the Finance Committee when she voted in favor of the bill but the bill failed. Later in 2017, the same idea was reintroduced and unanimously passed.

According to the agenda minutes, she was in attendance for both of these meetings.

Meeting 1: Sep. 26, 2017

Meeting 2: Nov. 2, 2015

According to Wiggins, “she is prohibited from receiving any additional compensation from any outside source. Any money Anna makes as a member of the City Council is deducted from the salary she makes as a CPA.  Therefore, receiving a pay raise as a member of the City Council has absolutely no impact on her income, as that amount would be subtracted from her paycheck at her job.”

Term Limits

The ad also claims Brosche voted “to remove term limits for politicians.”

WJCT previously reported on the facts regarding Brosche’s vote.

Wiggins said, “It is also important to set the record straight about the claim that she voted against term limits. If anyone went back and checked that vote, they would see that the claim being made by Lenny Curry's political committee is intentionally deceptive. What Anna voted for was for that issue to be placed on the ballot for the voters to decide.”

Samantha Kindler can be reached at newsteam@wjct.org, 904-358-6317 or on Twitter at @KindlerSamantha.