"Charles Willis Pickering" redirects here. For this former congressman's father, see Charles W. Pickering.
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Mississippi's 3rd district
January 3, 1997 – January 3, 2009
|Preceded by||Sonny Montgomery|
|Succeeded by||Gregg Harper|
August 10, 1963 |
|Children||Will, Ross, Jackson, Asher, & Harper|
|Alma mater||University of Mississippi, Baylor University|
Charles Willis "Chip" Pickering, Jr. (born August 10, 1963) is a politician in the U.S. state of Mississippi. He represented Mississippi's 3rd congressional district as a Republican in the United States House of Representatives. First elected in 1996, he chose not to run again in 2008.
Pickering was born in Laurel, Mississippi. Pickering is English American on his father's side and Irish American and Italian American on his mother's side. His father is Judge Charles Pickering, Sr., a Mississippi lawyer, former municipal judge, retired Federal judge, and prominent Republican politician. Chip graduated from the University of Mississippi where he was a legacy member of the Eta Chapter of Sigma Chi. He went on to receive a Masters degree from Baylor University in 1989.
Early political career
Pickering then very briefly served as a Southern Baptist missionary to Hungary, after the end of Hungarian government persecution of religious believers. In the same year, 1989, President George H. W. Bush appointed Pickering as a Department of Agriculture liaison to the former European Communist countries. This appointment provided Pickering with official diplomatic immunity.
After returning to the United States, Pickering served on the staff of Senator Trent Lott from 1992 to 1996. After a subsequent year as a government employee of the Senate Commerce Committee, Pickering ran for Congress in Mississippi. During his time as a member of Lott's staff, and then as a staff member on the Senate Commerce Committee, Chip helped shape the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the first major overhaul of US telecoms law since 1934.
U.S. House of Representatives
- Energy and Commerce Committee
- Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection Subcommittee
- Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee
- Telecommunications & the Internet Subcommittee
Pickering returned to Mississippi to run as the Republican candidate for the 3rd District. U.S. Congressman Sonny Montgomery, a 30-year Democratic incumbent, was not running for reelection. Pickering won by a wide margin. This was not regarded as an upset, as the 3rd has always been a rather conservative district; it actually elected a Republican in 1964 (when it was numbered as the 4th District), when Barry Goldwater won an unheard-of 87 percent of Mississippi's popular vote. It had become even more conservative since then, and it was generally believed that Montgomery would be succeeded by a Republican once he retired. However, Democrats continued to hold most of the district's seats in the state legislature until the turn of the century.
During this and following elections, questions were raised by political opponents about whether Pickering was a legal resident of Mississippi and lawfully qualified to run for the office. He claimed his farm in Madison County as his official residence, but his permanent residence is in the Washington area. Nonetheless, Pickering was unopposed for reelection in 1998 and defeated token Democratic opposition in 2000. In response to criticism regarding place of residence, Pickering has stated that he was advised by Montgomery to keep his residence and family in the Washington area, in order to have more time to spend with his family.
Pickering was reelected five times, all by large margins. He only faced substantive opposition once, in 2002—one of only two times since his initial run for the seat that he faced a Democrat. That year, Pickering was pitted against fellow Congressman Ronnie Shows from the neighboring 4th District. Shows' district had been eliminated in redistricting, and the bulk of its territory had been merged with Pickering's district. The district was drawn in a way that heavily favored Pickering, and he soundly defeated Shows with over 60% of the vote in the new 3rd District.
Pickering compiled a strongly conservative voting record. From 2003 to 2007, he served as vice-chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee. He has sometimes been mentioned as a candidate for a United States Senate seat in Mississippi; indeed, most pundits believed that had Lott opted not to run for reelection in 2006, Pickering would have been drafted to run in his place.
In mid-August 2007, Pickering announced that he would not seek re-election in 2008 so that he could spend more time with his family. Pickering was considered a top Republican contender for U.S. Senator Trent Lott's seat if Lott had retired in 2006, and in 2007 was said to be waiting to see if Senator Thad Cochran would retire in 2008; it is widely speculated that Pickering's decision to leave Congress was based on Cochran's decision to run for re-election.
When Lott announced his resignation as Senator in November 2007, Pickering was rumored to be Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour's choice to replace him. However, in December of that year, Pickering announced that he was not interested in the post; fellow Republican Congressman Roger Wicker of Mississippi's 1st congressional district was appointed to Lott's seat. Pickering retired from the House in January 2009 and is currently a lobbyist for Cellular South.
Youth soccer incident
Pickering and his former wife, Leisha, have five sons, Will, Ross, Jackson, Asher, and Harper. Pickering announced in June 2008 that he filed for divorce from Leisha in Madison County, citing irreconcilable differences. On July 16, 2009, it was announced that Leisha had filed an alienation of affection lawsuit against Elizabeth Creekmore Byrd, a woman with whom Pickering allegedly had an affair. The lawsuit claimed that the adulterous relationship ruined the Pickerings' marriage and his political career. In a column on July 24, 2009, Cokie and Steve Roberts wrote about the Washington, D.C., Fellowship Foundation at 133 C Street South East, where the trysts allegedly took place. Leisha Pickering, they wrote, "claims that instead of praying, another woman was preying on her husband" there. The Robertses indicated that Leisha Pickering was further motivated to pursue the divorce because her ex-husband's alleged paramour "made Pickering quit Congress just when he might have been appointed to the Senate. We would be surprised if ex-wives have some legal recourse for disappointment over a Senate seat, but hey, Leisha Pickering's going for it."
Pickering is also the cousin of state auditor, Stacey Pickering.
Appearance in Borat movie
Pickering was one of several politicians to appear in the film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. In the film he briefly appears at a lively Pentecostal meeting where spoken views against the theory of evolution are cheered by the congregation. A spokesperson for Pickering said that his boss "hasn't seen the film." The spokesperson added, "[o]f course he doesn't support the offensive nature of the movie".
- Stennis Center, Chip Pickering profile, accessed 1 August 2009
- "Editorial". The Clarion-Ledger. August 18, 2007.
- Pickering Announces Retirement, Roll Call, August 16, 2007.
- Dead link to Clarion-Ledger web site
- Mark, David (December 28, 2007). "Pickering Removes Himself From Senate Consideration". CBS News. Retrieved 2008-05-18.
- "Ex-Miss. politician's wife sues alleged mistress". Clarion Ledger. July 16, 2009., Archived: at WebCite
- John Bresnahan (July 16, 2009). "Chip Pickering's wife sues alleged mistress". The Politico.
- Cokie Roberts; Steve Roberts (July 24, 2009). "A place where guys can be guys?". United Feature Syndicate. Retrieved 2009-07-29.
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Financial disclosures Clarion Ledger, June 15, 2006
- Pickering considers job as top lobbyist
- Lawmakers' Help for Drug Firm Tests LimitsThe Washington Post, April 29, 2005
|United States House of Representatives|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Mississippi's 3rd congressional district
January 3, 1997 – January 3, 2009