Fact Check

Does This Photograph Show Legislators Playing Solitaire?

"The bills they’re passing by playing solitaire instead of voting for us are taking away our freedoms with every key stroke."

Published Nov. 1, 2009

Joseph Sohm/Corbis via Getty Images (Joseph Sohm/Corbis via Getty Images)
Joseph Sohm/Corbis via Getty Images
Photograph shows representatives playing solitaire on their laptop computers during a legislative session.

A photograph which appears to show representatives playing solitaire on their laptops during a legislative session has certainly struck a chord among many viewers, undoubtedly because it seemingly confirms a widely held view of elected representatives as paid fat cats frittering away their time at frivolous pursuits rather than engaging in serious governmental problem solving efforts.

The photograph is real, although it has erroneously been attributed to a number of different legislative bodies, from the U.S. Congress to a variety of state legislatures:

This picture is worth a trillion $$

This was sent to me showing our Congress at “work”. It was said that this was while Congress was in session, appears to be true, and that it was during the health care debate. Even if it wasn’t during the health care debate, if this is how they spend their time while they are supposed to be deciding on important issues, then I not only want a rebate on my tax dollars, I want to see some new people who actually care about what is happening and are paying close attention to the matter at hand sitting in those seats. Seems like we don’t need to be sending them on any more expen$ive vacations, they’re already on one.

It seems to me that if all we are doing is paying these congressmen and women a gigantic salary to sit in congressional session and play solitaire or whatever, it’s time to bring most of them back home by replacement. Democrats, republicans, independents — it makes no difference. The bills they’re passing by playing solitaire instead of voting for us are taking away our freedoms with every key stroke

Fire 'em all!

Folks we need to forward this to everyone we know to get the word out about these people that are being paid by our tax dollars.

Nothing else needs to be said. This is one of their THREE DAY WORK WEEKS that we all pay for. I am ready to start from the beginning by voting out all elected officials and not letting any of them stay in office for more than two terms. No more lifelong healthcare, retirement, voting in their own pay raises, taking perks on our taxes, etc.

These are the folks that can't get the budget out by Oct. 1, Seriously!!!

So, we've got a 30 day budget extension. Well, guess what, 30 days from now we will be in the same boat. I guess this makes it easy for the news 'reporters' as all they have to do is recycle the same headlines from this week and from 2 years ago. And these yo-yo's will still be playing SOLITAIRE!!!

The picture was actually snapped in the Connecticut House of Representatives on 31 August 2009 by photographer Jessica Hill, while Rep. Larry Cafero was delivering a lengthy speech on the state budget. The photo was captioned by the Associated Press as follows: "House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr., R-Norwalk, far right, speaks while colleagues play solitaire on their computers as the House convenes to vote on a new budget for the fiscal year in the Capitol, in Hartford, Conn."

Ms. Hill described the reaction to her photograph as follows:

I have received a great deal of mail and even a few calls from people all over the country over the last couple of months about the photograph I have as a lead off image on my member page. Some viewers have even gone so far to say they believe the photograph is not authentic. I take my profession very serious. There is nothing staged or altered in the photograph and it is insulting to me to have been accused of otherwise from people who do not even know me.

Rep. Jack Hennessy (D-Bridgeport), one of two Connecticut legislators shown in the photo playing solitaire on a laptop computer (the other was Rep. Barbara Lambert [D-Milford]), issued a letter of apology to his constituents:

It was certainly bad judgment for me to play a computer game even for just a few minutes during the final House session on the budget. I am embarrassed, and I apologize to each and every person in the North End and to people across the state.

My actions were inexcusable. I do want my constituents to know that my poor judgment for a few moments in no way means I ignored your interests in representing you on this very serious matter. Over the past seven months, as a member of the General Assembly's Finance Committee, I have participated fully in the budget process and have played an active role in crafting a budget that provides the necessary services that our communities so desperately need while at the same time minimizing any negative impact on the city of Bridgeport and its people.

I sincerely apologize to each of you. I look forward to having the continued privilege of representing you and your interests in Hartford. I thank you in advance for your understanding and have been humbled by those of you who have already expressed your understanding and forgiveness.


Brown, DeNeen L.   "For a Day, First Lady Becomes a Lunch Lady."     The Washington Post.   6 March 2009.

Sweet, Lynn.   "Can Michelle Influence What We Eat, Too?"     Chicago Sun-Times.   6 March 2009.

Associated Press.   "First Lady Puts Service on the Menu."     The Australian.   7 March 2009.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.