Daniel J. Flood

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Daniel J. Flood
Dan Flood.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 11th district
In office
January 3, 1945–January 3, 1947
January 3, 1949–January 3, 1953
January 3, 1955–January 31, 1980
Preceded by John W. Murphy (1st time)
Mitchell Jenkins (2nd time)
Edward J. Bonin (3rd time)
Succeeded by Mitchell Jenkins (1st time)
Edward J. Bonin (2nd time)
Raphael J. Musto (3rd time)
Personal details
Born Daniel John Flood
(1903-11-26)November 26, 1903
Hazleton, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died May 28, 1994(1994-05-28) (aged 90)
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Catherine
Religion Roman Catholic[citation needed]

Daniel John "Dan" Flood (November 26, 1903 – May 28, 1994) was a flamboyant and long-serving Democratic United States Representative from Pennsylvania. Flood was credited with leading the effort to help the Wilkes-Barre area recover after the 1972 effects of the Agnes Flood. He was censured for bribery and resigned from the House in 1980.[1]

Early life and career[edit]

Flood was born in Hazleton in Northeastern Pennsylvania, the son of Sarah (McCarthy) and Patrick Flood.[2] He attended the public schools of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and St. Augustine, Florida. He graduated from Syracuse University in 1924. He attended Harvard Law School and was graduated from Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle in 1929. He was admitted to the bar in 1930 and opened a practice in Wilkes-Barre. He was an attorney for the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation in 1934 and 1935.

Flood studied acting in his early school days, a skill he fancied and often utilized while serving as a member of Congress. Flood sported a signature waxed moustache from that time throughout his career and had a penchant for white suits. His flamboyant style, dress and speech were often compared to that of a Shakespearean actor. He persuaded his friend James Karen to begin his acting career, recruiting him into a production at the Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre. He met his wife Catherine Swank when they were both cast in a production at the same theatre.

Political career[edit]

Flood served as the deputy attorney general for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and counsel for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board from 1935 to 1939. He was director of the State Bureau of Public Assistance Disbursements, and executive assistant to the State Treasurer from 1941 to 1944.

United States House of Representatives[edit]

Flood made his first run for office in 1942, when he was the Democratic candidate in a special election to replace Congressman J. Harold Flannery in what was then the 12th District, based in Wilkes-Barre. He narrowly lost to Republican Thomas B. Miller. Flood ran against Miller again in the general election later that year and lost by a wider margin. However, he ran again against Miller in what had now been renumbered the 11th District and won. He was defeated for reelection in 1946 due to a nationwide Republican landslide, but regained his seat in 1948. He was reelected in 1950, only to be swept out by Dwight Eisenhower's massive landslide in 1952, losing to Republican Edward J. Bonin. He was reelected in 1954 in a re-match against Congressman Bonin, and after a close reelection bid in 1956 was reelected 11 more times without serious opposition.

Daniel J. Flood was a strong supporter of John F. Kennedy and is seen greeting the President outside the White House, circa 1961.

He persuaded Senator John F. Kennedy to campaign in his home district and was an avid supporter of Kennedy's later Presidency.

Flood used his considerable influence in Congress to transition the economy of his district,[3] which was devastated when the anthracite coal mining industry took a severe downturn. While in Congress, Flood was credited with sponsoring the Area Redevelopment Act in 1961 and the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969.

Referring to his influence with the Commerce Department in April 1964, Flood stated, "Under Secretary of Commerce Martin is going to fly with me to my district tomorrow to help me break ground for the intersection of routes 80 and 81. These are the two major intercontinental highways, and it's no coincidence that they intersect in my district. This is the only place in the country where they do intersect. Martin would not be doing this with me if it weren't for our long association."

He is also known for his efforts in rebuilding his district in the aftermath of Hurricane Agnes. When the tropical storm remnants of Hurricane Agnes overwhelmed the Susquehanna River watershed in 1972 causing major flooding all along the river, one of the hardest-hit locations was Wilkes-Barre's business and residential areas. Flood, subcommittee chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, with years of clout accumulated while in office, was credited with limiting federal red tape in what was then the most-damaging hurricane ever recorded in the U.S. From air and boat rescue, to bringing President Richard M. Nixon in to survey flood damage, and establishing a federal response - all were credited to Flood. "It took a Flood to tame a flood" was his catchphrase.

In the neighboring city of Scranton, however, he was occasionally accused of favoring Wilkes-Barre, and he is often cited as the source of the naming of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport (with Wilkes-Barre first, despite being the smaller of the two cities and being second alphabetically.)

Censure and resignation[edit]

Flood was investigated by at least eight separate U.S. Attorney's offices and had 175 possible cases pending against him.[4] Flood's former aide, Stephen Elko, testified that Flood was a 'muscler' who used his influence to direct federal contracts to people and corporations in exchange for cash kickbacks.[4]

The 'Flood-Medico-Bufalino Triangle' was one such instance. Medico Industries of Plains Township received, with Flood's help, a $3,900,000 Department of Defense contract to produce 600,000 warheads for use in the Vietnam War. Mafia crime boss Russell Bufalino, who frequented Medico offices, was an associate of general manager William 'Billy' Medico and president Philip Medico, who was a caporegime in the Bufalino crime family. The FBI discovered that Flood would often travel in the Medico Industries jet.[4]

During the 96th United States Congress, Flood was censured for bribery.[5] The allegations led to his resignation on January 31, 1980.[6] He died in Wilkes-Barre in 1994.


Flood is regarded as a folk hero in northeastern Pennsylvania.[7] He is remembered by his constituency for his weekly televised messages from Washington, which were a staple of Sunday morning television for years, and for his knack of being around for virtually any public event that took place in his district.

Daniel J. Flood Elementary School in the Wilkes-Barre Area School District is named in his honor.

On Saturday, October 2, 2010, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission honored Flood with a plaque as part of the Historical Marker Program. Located on Wilkes-Barre's Public Square, in the center of the city, it reads:


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ http://politicalgraveyard.com/geo/PA/knights-columbus.html
  3. ^ Crile, George (January 1975). "The Best Congressman". Harper's Magazine. 
  4. ^ a b c Scheim, David E. (1988). Contract on America: The Mafia Murder of President John F. Kennedy. Shapolsky Publishers. p. 394. ISBN 9780933503304. 
  5. ^ Censure Citations[dead link]
  6. ^ Rudin, Ken (2007-06-06). "The Equal-Opportunity Culture of Corruption". NPR.org. Retrieved 2007-07-29. 
  7. ^ Daniel Flood Center[dead link]
  8. ^ "Daniel J. Flood Historical Marker". CitizensVoice.com. Retrieved 2015-01-25. 

Further reading[edit]

  • William C. Kashatus. Dapper Dan Flood: The Controversial Life of a Congressional Power Broker (Penn State University Press; 2010) 350 pages; scholarly biography

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
John W. Murphy
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 11th congressional district

Succeeded by
Mitchell Jenkins
Preceded by
Mitchell Jenkins
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 11th congressional district

Succeeded by
Edward J. Bonin
Preceded by
Edward J. Bonin
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 11th congressional district

Succeeded by
Raphael J. Musto