Bob Livingston

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Bob Livingston
BobLivingston.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Louisiana's 1st district
In office
August 27, 1977 – March 1, 1999
Preceded by Richard Alvin Tonry
Succeeded by David Vitter
Personal details
Born (1943-04-30) April 30, 1943 (age 70)
Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Bonnie Livingston
Children Richard Livingston (died 2006)
Alma mater Tulane University
Profession Lobbyist; Lawyer
Religion Roman Catholic
Military service
Service/branch United States Navy

Robert Linlithgow "Bob" Livingston Jr. (born April 30, 1943) is a Washington, D.C.-based lobbyist and a former Republican U.S. Representative from Louisiana. He was Chairman of the Appropriations Committee from 1995–1999, and he was chosen as Newt Gingrich's successor as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives late in 1998 but chose to withdraw and retire after an extramarital affair was discovered.

Family[edit]

Livingston is a descendant of Robert Livingston (via Henry W. Livingston), the elder brother of Philip Livingston, one of the signers of the United States Declaration of Independence.[1] One of his ancestors in New York State (Henry Livingston) was probably the (then anonymous) author of the poem, The Night Before Christmas.[citation needed]

Livingston is married to the former Bonnie Robichaux (also born 1943), a native of Raceland in Lafourche Parish and niece of former United States Senator Allen J. Ellender, a Democrat from Houma in Terrebonne Parish. Raised as an Episcopalian, he converted to his wife's religion of Roman Catholicism. The Livingstons had a son named Richard, who died in July 2006, while he was trimming a tree and was electrocuted by a live wire in New Orleans.[2]

Early career[edit]

Out of college, Livingston joined the law practice of David C. Treen, who would become Louisiana's first Republican congressman and governor since Reconstruction. Treen had been an active Republican back in the days when the party barely existed in Louisiana, and this connection allowed Livingston to make valuable contacts in GOP circles. He was a delegate to all Republican conventions between 1976 and 2000. Livingston later worked for the U.S. attorney for Louisiana's Eastern District, the Orleans Parish district attorney's office, and the Louisiana state attorney general, the Democrat William J. "Billy" Guste, Jr.

Career in Congress[edit]

Official Congressional portrait of Bob Livingston.

Livingston resigned his position as head of the state attorney general's organized crime unit in 1976 when he won the Republican nomination for Louisiana's 1st Congressional District, based in the New Orleans suburbs and including a large part of the city itself. The seat had opened up when 36-year incumbent Democrat and former House Armed Services Committee chairman F. Edward Hébert retired. Although the seat had been trending Republican for some time, Livingston narrowly lost to one-term state legislator Richard Tonry. Livingston was denied victory by the third-party candidacy of former Sixth District Congressman John Rarick of St. Francisville, the seat of West Feliciana Parish. Rarick, who had been one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress during his tenure, presumably siphoned off enough votes from Livingston to allow Tonry to win.

Allegations, however, surfaced of "tombstone" votes for Tonry in both the primary and general election. Tonry was forced to resign in May 1977 and run again in the special election for his seat. However, he lost the Democratic nomination in August to State Representative Ron Faucheux. In addition, Faucheux also faced Sanford Krasnoff, an independent challenge from the left, and Livingston took advantage of the split in liberal ranks to become the first Republican to represent New Orleans in Congress since Reconstruction. Livingston prevailed with 56,121 votes to Faucheux's 40,862, and Krasnoff's 12,665.[3][4]

Livingston was aided by a cadre of dedicated Republican volunteers, including the newly installed National Committeewoman Virginia Martinez of Kenner.[5] In 1978, Livingston won a full term with 86 percent of the vote. He was reelected eleven times, the last nine of those times unopposed. His district became even more Republican after the 1980s round of redistricting. Most of the district's share of New Orleans was shifted to the 2nd District and was replaced with some heavily Republican territory in Jefferson Parish. After the 1990 census, Livingston's district gained copacetic Washington Parish and Tangipahoa Parish from Louisiana's 6th congressional district while relinquishing equally conservative Saint Bernard Parish to Louisiana's 3rd congressional district.

Although well known in Louisiana, Livingston was a relatively low-key congressman for his first eighteen years in Washington, but he managed early in his career to land a spot on the Appropriations Committee. This, along with his conservative stances on most issues, made him popular with his constituents, most of whom had never been previously represented by a Republican.

Gubernatorial race, 1987[edit]

In 1987, Livingston ran for governor, having declared, "You can lay our problems at the hands of politicians." He questioned the state's poor performance regarding school drop-outs, unemployment, and credit rating. He even noted that Louisiana had a high number of cancer patients, a factor often attributed to environmental hazards. Livingston continued:

I'm prepared to clean house. ... The rest of the nation has the impression that Louisiana doesn't want to work ... that Louisiana will tolerate corruption ... that Louisiana is not serious about improving its quality of life. ...[6]

Despite polls which had generally showed that Livingston would face the incumbent governor, Edwin Edwards, in a second round of balloting, Livingston finished third. Instead his fellow U.S. representative, Buddy Roemer of Louisiana's 4th congressional district, was slated into a runoff election, officially the Louisiana general election. Because of a last-week surge to Roemer, Livingston fell ten points short of a runoff berth. Two other major candidates finished behind Livingston: then Democratic, later Republican, Representative Billy Tauzin of Louisiana's 3rd congressional district and outgoing Secretary of State James H. "Jim" Brown.

After the primary, Livingston quickly endorsed his House colleague Roemer, then a Democrat, but the runoff election was canceled because Edwards conceded the race to Roemer. It was said that Edwards had wanted to face Livingston in a general election, and had that scenario developed he would have remained around for the second balloting. Instead Edwards pulled out of the second round of balloting to prevent Roemer from consolidating majority support.

Despite his showing in the gubernatorial race, Livingston remained popular in his district and went on to win easy re-elections as he moved up the leadership ladder in the House.

Chairman, House Appropriations Committee[edit]

Livingston first came to national attention in 1995, when he was named chairman of the Appropriations Committee after the Republican takeover of the House. This instantly made him one of the most powerful members of Congress. During one committee session, he brandished a machete to demonstrate his seriousness as a budget-cutter.

During the Monica Lewinsky scandals, Livingston was one of many Republicans who demanded President Bill Clinton's resignation, and later impeachment, for perjury. After Newt Gingrich resigned as Speaker in part because of Republican losses in the 1998 elections, majority leader Dick Armey and majority whip Tom DeLay had opted not to contest the Speaker's chair. Livingston subsequently announced that he was not only running for Speaker, but had lined up enough support to win. He was nominated as the Republican candidate for Speaker without opposition. As the GOP had retained a narrow majority in the House, this effectively made him Speaker-elect. Although the Speaker is formally elected by the entire House, in practice the majority party's candidate is all but assured of winning that vote.

Resignation[edit]

During debate over the impeachment of Bill Clinton on December 19, 1998, Hustler Magazine publisher Larry Flynt offered one million dollars for each unflattering sexual story about Republican members of congress. After one such story was made public about him by Flynt, Livingston acknowledged that he had had an affair and resigned as Speaker-elect. He challenged President Bill Clinton to resign as well.[7] Livingston then announced he would vacate his House seat in May 1999.[8] His leaving office came despite support from Minority Leader Dick Gephardt of Missouri that the Democrats would work with Livingston and not make a continued issue of Livingston's affair. Livingston said that had he become Speaker, it would have been more difficult for the Republicans to carry out Clinton's impeachment and trial.[9]

Livingston was succeeded by David Vitter — who later became the first popularly elected Republican U.S. senator from Louisiana and subsequently admitted to having been involved in a prostitution ring run by Deborah Jeane Palfrey. The First District is currently represented by Republican Steve Scalise of Metairie, Louisiana.

In 1985, Livingston had called for the resignation of Governor Edwin Edwards, who faced indictment and trial on charges of racketeering and fraud. "He shouldn't continue to drag the image of our state down with his legal problems," Livingston said of Edwards.[10]Two years later Livingston unsuccessfully challenged Edwards for reelection, when the gubernatorial victory went to U.S. Representative Buddy Roemer.

Subsequent career[edit]

Livingston Group[edit]

Soon after retiring from public life he founded The Livingston Group, one of many lobbying groups in the nation's capital. Noted accomplishments include Congressional approval of a US-Moroccan Free Trade Agreement and Congressional normalization of relations between the US and Libya following the Libyan abdication of nuclear technology and settlement of claims by family members for people killed in Pan Am Flight 103 and other violent incidents in the 1980s.

Clients[edit]

The Livingston Group's clients include "the Cities of New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Northrop Grumman, the New Orleans Business Council, Rolls-Royce, and Verizon."[11] Another important client was the Republic of Turkey, on whose behalf the Group lobbied to maintain and improve US relations as they pertained to international and historical issues affecting the Republic of Turkey. Critics contend that this lobbying was a form of genocide denial, as Turkey does not recognize the slaughter of up to 1.5 million Armenians as a genocide, and does not want the American Government to recognize these events as genocide either.[12][13]

The Livingston Group has also represented the government of Egypt.[11] Acting as lobbyist for Egypt Livingston "helped stall a Senate bill that called on Egypt to curtail human rights abuses" in 2010.[14] His stated role is to enhance relations between the United States and the Republic of Egypt, which he perceives as critical to a resolution of tension in the Middle East.

Other work[edit]

Livingston, considered a formidable lobbyist, was identified by Jonathan Tilove of the New Orleans Times-Picayune as supporting U.S. Representative Anh "Joseph" Cao.

In 2003, Livingston was inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield.

Livingston testified in the 2009 trial of Mose Jefferson, who was convicted on four counts related to bribery.[15]

In 2011, Livingston became Treasurer of the Louisiana Republican Party.[11] "Livingston said taking the fundraising assignment for the Louisiana GOP would not in any way undermine the work of The Livingston Group."[11]

Livingston is also a member of the board of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, a non-profit involved in international elections,[16] and he is a Knight of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ http://thehill.com/cover-stories/guess-whos-coming-to-the-firm-2007-12-11.html
  2. ^ http://www.nola.com/news/index.ssf/2008/12/bob_livingston_has_no_regrets.html
  3. ^ Louisiana Almanac, 2006
  4. ^ "Louisiana District 1 Special Election, August 27, 1977". ourcampaigns.com. Retrieved June 13, 2013. 
  5. ^ http://ftp.rootsweb.com/pub/usgenweb/la/orleans/obits/1/m-07.txt
  6. ^ Marilyn Miller, "Bob Livingston: 'You Can Lay Our Problems at the Hands of Politicians'", Minden Press-Herald, August 21, 1987, p. 1
  7. ^ Mitchell, Alison "IMPEACHMENT: THE OVERVIEW -- CLINTON IMPEACHED; HE FACES A SENATE TRIAL, 2D IN HISTORY; VOWS TO DO JOB TILL TERM'S 'LAST HOUR'", New York Times, December 20, 1999.
  8. ^ Kurtz, Howard, "Larry Flynt, Investigative Pornographer", Washington Post, December 19, 1998.
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ "Edwards facing 265 years in prison?", Minden Press-Herald, March 1, 1985, p. 1
  11. ^ a b c d Carney, Timothy (2011-03-10) Government Corruption Update: McCaskill's self-dealing; N.Y. lawmaker buster; Jindal's lobbyist fundraiser, Washington Examiner
  12. ^ Crowley, Michael. "K Street Cashes in on the 1915 Armenian Genocide," The New Republic, January 23, 2007; available here for free: http://www.armeniapedia.org/index.php?title=K_Street_Cashes_In_On_The_1915_Armenian_Genocide
  13. ^ ANCA Video Sets Record Straight On Bob Livingston's Genocide Denial, Armenian National Committee of America
  14. ^ Lichtblau, Eric (March 1, 2011). "Arab Uprisings Put U.S. Lobbyists in Uneasy Spot". The New York Times. 
  15. ^ In response to a comparison made by James Gill("Former congressman Bob Livingston explains influence-peddling, the legal way" in Times-Picayune, August 20, 2009, Metro Edition, p. B5) between Livingston and former U.S. representative William J. Jefferson (convicted of 11 felonies), Livingston defended the Livingston Group as having no relation to Jefferson's activities, but rather to the extent that they may have represented the same client, performed their own services in an entirely legal manner.(Bob Livingston, "Proud of career post-Congress, Livingston says" in Times-Picayune, August 23, 2009, Metro Edition, p. B4). See also John Ryan, "I CAN cash in on schools" in Times-Picayune, August 26, 2009, Saint Tammany Edition, p. B4, and the rejoinder by John V. Lee, "Algebra program is cost-effective, and it works" in Times-Picayune, August 29, 2009, Saint Tammany Edition, p. B4.
  16. ^ "Board". IFES. 2009. Retrieved October 16, 2009. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Richard Alvin Tonry
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Louisiana's 1st congressional district

1977 – 1999
Succeeded by
David Vitter
Political offices
Preceded by
David Obey
Wisconsin
Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee
1995 – 1999
Succeeded by
Bill Young
Florida