Lawmakers caught playing video games during floor debate

Playing "Angry Birds" on their phone isn’t part of the job description

(CNN) – When a politician is elected to office, you would expect them to be on the job while they’re at work and playing “angry birds” on their phone is not part of the job description, but two Illinois state lawmakers were recently caught playing video games while on the house floor.

Mike Smiddy, from the Illinois State House, said, “I knew about the higher education bill. We had been in caucus, I knew what it was going to do for my schools both western and Blackhawk.”

That’s what quad cities representative Mike Smiddy said after being caught playing a video game on the floor. It was during a debate funding Illinois’s colleges and universities for the first time in almost a year. He said he didn’t need to listen and he had no apologies for his actions.

Reporter Matt Porter: “You don’t think when someone looks down from the gallery and sees you playing video games, that it gives a bad impression of what you’re doing down there?”

According to Smiddy, “I knew what was in the bill like I said and it was something that I had worked on previously.”

Reporter asked: “You don’t think it was a mistake, you don’t regret during that debate deciding to play video games on your phone?”

Smiddy goes onto say: “Like I said, all I was there to do is to make sure to pass a higher education funding bill. It was passed on a bipartisan, there was only two folks that didn’t vote for it.”

Another lawmaker, state representative Katherine Cloonan was seen playing candy crush during the same debate. She put it away after she saw our cameras overhead. She told us in a statement she’s “Been focused on working to end the budget impasse.” She did not apologize or express any regret for playing games and sometimes, lawmakers aren’t even on the floor to vote. It’s a common practice for lawmakers to let others vote for them.

Scott Bennett, Illinois State Senate, explains, “What sometimes happens is for example, if there is a vote on school funding, we might step off the floor during a debate to call a superintendent to get more information and in those instances you might say, ‘Hey if the debate wraps up, I’m a yes on this vote.'”

A momentary absent isn’t controversial. We saw most of the democratic caucus absent in the senate for almost an hour while a dozen or so votes took place. The senate democrats’ spokesperson said the votes were unanimous and procedural. Members were off the floor working out a deal with the house.

Senate Democrats Spokesperson John Patterson said, “The members were in the building, if we needed to get them back to the floor, we could have very quickly. But there was a very important deal being put together to help colleges that our members were off the floor working on at that time.” If the opposition feels there are too many absent. They can ask for verification.

Dale Righter, out of the Illinios State Senate, said, “If they’re not in the chamber when their name is questioned, their yes vote is taken off the board. I will tell you that’s a very quick wake up call for people to get back on the floor.”

A sure way to keep members from staying out for long. State lawmakers can also change their vote at any time during the session.

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