Bruce Babbitt

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Bruce Babbitt
Bruce babbitt.jpg
47th United States Secretary of the Interior
In office
January 22, 1993 – January 2, 2001
President Bill Clinton
Preceded by Manuel Lujan, Jr.
Succeeded by Gale Norton
16th Governor of Arizona
In office
March 4, 1978 – January 6, 1987
Preceded by Wesley Bolin
Succeeded by Evan Mecham
19th Attorney General of Arizona
In office
January 6, 1975 – March 4, 1978
Governor Raul H. Castro (1975-1977)

Wesley Bolin (1977-1978)

Preceded by N. Warner Lee
Succeeded by John A. LaSota, Jr.
Personal details
Born Bruce Edward Babbitt
(1938-06-27) June 27, 1938 (age 76)
Flagstaff, Arizona
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Harriet C. Babbitt
Children Christopher Babbitt
T.J. Babbitt
Alma mater University of Notre Dame
Newcastle University
Harvard Law School
Religion Roman Catholic

Bruce Edward Babbitt (born June 27, 1938), a Democrat, served as United States Secretary of the Interior and as the 16th governor of Arizona, from 1978 to 1987.

Biography[edit]

Born in Flagstaff, Arizona, Babbitt graduated from the University of Notre Dame, and attended Newcastle University in the United Kingdom on a Marshall Scholarship, and then received his law degree at Harvard Law School.[1]

He married Harriet Coons (known as Hattie) in 1968. She has worked as an attorney in Arizona and Washington, D.C., and served as United States Ambassador to the Organization of American States from 1993 to 1997, and as Deputy Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development from 1997 to 2001 during the Clinton Administration.[2]

They have two sons, Christopher and T.J. His brother, Paul Babbitt, was a candidate for the United States House of Representatives in 2004.

Political career[edit]

Arizona[edit]

Babbitt was elected Attorney General of Arizona, but succeeded Wesley Bolin as governor when Bolin died in office on March 4, 1978. Arizona does not have a lieutenant governor, designating the Arizona Secretary of State as first in line in case the governor vacates his or her post. Rose Mofford, then secretary of state, had been appointed to her post and thus was not eligible to become governor according to the Arizona state constitution. Babbitt, as attorney general, was next in the line of succession. Babbitt was elected for a full four-year term in 1978, and again in 1982. Babbitt served as governor of Arizona from 1978 to 1987, but did not seek reelection to a third term. In 1983, Babbitt sent the Arizona National Guard to the strike against Phelps Dodge in Morenci, Arizona. With the retirement of Republican Barry Goldwater from the U.S. Senate in 1986, many in Arizona expected Babbitt to oppose Representative John McCain for the seat. In a surprise press conference in 1985, Babbitt instead announced he would forgo the Senate race to concentrate on a White House bid in 1988.

Babbitt is the only Arizona governor to have completed two four-year terms with nine years of service. However, George W.P. Hunt is Arizona's longest-serving governor with 17 years of total service and seven terms.

National work[edit]

In 1979, Babbitt was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to serve as a Commissioner on the President's Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island, a six-month investigation of the March 1979 accident at a commercial nuclear power plant at Middletown, Pennsylvania. Babbitt spoke at the 1980 Democratic National Convention, which nominated incumbent Jimmy Carter as the Democratic candidate for President.

A founding member of the Democratic Leadership Council and the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association in 1985, Babbitt sought the Democratic Party's 1988 nomination for President of the United States. Among his proposals was a national sales tax to remedy the then-record budget deficits piled up during the several past administrations. He enjoyed positive press attention (called a "boomlet" in USA Today), but after finishing out of the top tier of candidates in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, he dropped out of the race. In an intentional reference to Richard Nixon (who said after losing the California governorship in the 1962 election that the press "won't have [me] to kick around anymore"), Babbitt joked in his last campaign press conference that the media "won't have Bruce Babbitt to puff up anymore." The Washington Post reported that Babbitt dropped this line from the prepared text of his withdrawal speech.[3]

Clinton Administration[edit]

After leading the League of Conservation Voters Babbitt served for eight years, 1993–2001, as the United States Secretary of the Interior during Bill Clinton's administration.

Babbitt worked to protect scenic and historic areas of America's federal public lands. In 2000 Babbitt created the National Landscape Conservation System, a collection of 15 U.S. National Monuments and 14 National Conservation Areas to be managed by the Bureau of Land Management in such a way as to keep them "healthy, open, and wild." Wilderness.org[dead link]

In 1993, Babbitt was very seriously considered by President Clinton to replace retiring United States Supreme Court Justice Byron White. However, due to his lead in environmental issues, Clinton nominated Ruth Bader Ginsburg instead. Clinton again considered Babbitt for the high court in 1994 when Harry Blackmun announced his retirement. Babbitt was passed over again, this time in favor of Stephen Breyer, due to Breyer's immense support in the U.S. Senate, primarily because he was close to Sen. Ted Kennedy.[citation needed]

In 1998 he was the subject of a federal grand jury investigation into whether he had lied to Congress about having denied an Indian casino license in Wisconsin in return for political donations. The controversy has been called Wampumgate. Babbitt was cleared of wrongdoing in the special prosecutor's final report on the investigation the following year.[4]

Post-political life[edit]

Babbitt took a job as chief counsel of the environmental litigation department of Latham & Watkins, an international law firm, after leaving the Department of Interior.

Babbitt wrote a book in 2005 titled Cities in the Wilderness: A New Vision of Land Use in America, where he proposes to amend the Endangered Species Act so that it is used to identify, conserve, and protect landscapes, watersheds, and ecosystems whether or not an endangered species exists there. Drawing a parallel with preventive medicine, he thinks it should promote the protection of open space and ecosystems before the downward spiral to extinction begins.

Babbitt has attracted the ire of some environmentalists and Native American groups for his representation of the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort and its effort to expand the resort and use waste water to make artificial snow.[5]

He serves as trustee of the World Wildlife Fund Secretariat Trustees in the U.S., and is listed as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.[6] He has also served on the Board of Directors since 2009 for the Amazon Conservation Association, whose mission is to conserve the biological diversity of the Amazon.[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Arizona Governor Bruce Edward Babbitt, National Governors Association.
  2. ^ Harriet C. Babbitt-Jennings Strouss Attorneys at Law
  3. ^ Schwartz, Maralee; Ifill, Gwen (1998-02-21). "Babbitt's Opening Line--Almost". The Washington Post. pp. A12. 
  4. ^ Miller, Bill; Vise, David A. (1999-10-14). "Babbitt Cleared in Casino Probe". The Washington Post. pp. A1. Retrieved 2009-01-23. 
  5. ^ Savethepeaks.org, "Can anyone really trust Bruce Babbitt?
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ "Amazon Conservation Association". 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
N. Warner Lee
Arizona Attorney General
January 6, 1975 – March 4, 1978
Succeeded by
John A. ("Jack") LaSota, Jr.
Preceded by
Wesley Bolin
Governor of Arizona
March 4, 1978–January 6, 1987
Succeeded by
Evan Mecham
Preceded by
Manuel Lujan, Jr.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior
Served under: Bill Clinton

1993 – 2001
Succeeded by
Gale Norton