News Story

After Losing August Primary, Legislator Stopped Representing Her District

Bettie Cook Scott was elected to represent the people of the 2nd House district

Democrat Bettie Cook Scott stopped showing up to legislative sessions as a state representative for the 2nd District in the Michigan House after she lost her bid for a state Senate seat in the August primary election.

The Detroit representative was far and away the state legislator who missed the most votes in 2018, according to an analysis done by Michigan Votes, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s vote-tracking website.

Scott missed 599 of a possible 1,045 votes in 2018. She missed all 488 votes from August through December 2018. MichiganVotes.org said in its analysis that it is unable to recall a similar situation in the past 25 years. Michigan Votes released its report on missed legislative votes on Friday.

State representatives are paid $71,685 a year. Scott didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.

The next-closest state legislator in terms of missed votes was Republican Sen. Tom Casperson of Escanaba, who missed 199 votes out of a possible 1,043 in 2018.

Leon Drolet, a former state representative who is chairman of the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance, questioned whether it mattered if Scott showed up at all.

“If she had been there, would any outcomes have changed?” Drolet asked. “Unless there was an outcome that changed, to the public, it really doesn’t matter. People resent when someone is collecting a paycheck and not doing anything for it. It is more of an ethics concern than a policy concern,” he said “Frankly, there are a large percentage of lawmakers that really don’t matter. They don’t use political capital to fight hard to change the outcome of legislation. There is a large percentage of lawmakers who are there just to push a button, and contribute nothing else.”

Drolet continued, “In some ways, she is just more honest by not even bothering to show up. Some lawmakers show up and do nothing else. They are just there, but they don’t try to make a difference.”

Scott couldn’t run for the House again because of term limits. She ran for the state Senate finished behind winner and current state Rep. Stephanie Chang and another candidate in the primary.

During the primary election, Scott made news for making racial slurs about Chang at the polling precincts. Scott called Chang “ching-chang” and “the ching-chong” to many voters at the polling precinct, according to The Metro Times. Scott also said one of Chang’s campaign volunteers was an immigrant, and told that volunteer “you don’t belong here” and “I want you out of my country,” according to The Metro Times. Scott later apologized for her comments.

Scott’s voting record took a turn for the worse in 2018. She missed just 14 votes out of 509 in 2017.

Even before coming up short in the August primary election, Scott had missed 111 of 557 votes from January through July of 2018.

Outgoing House Minority Leader Sam Singh didn't respond to an email seeking comment.