Jim Kolbe

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Jim Kolbe
Jim Kolbe.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arizona's 5th district
In office
January 3, 1985 – January 3, 2003
Preceded by James F. McNulty, Jr.
Succeeded by J.D. Hayworth
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arizona's 8th district
In office
January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2007
Preceded by District created
Succeeded by Gabrielle Giffords
Personal details
Born (1942-06-28) June 28, 1942 (age 71)
Evanston, Illinois
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Divorced
Residence Tucson, Arizona
Alma mater Northwestern University, Stanford University
Occupation political assistant, business consultant
Religion Methodist

James Thomas "Jim" Kolbe (born June 28, 1942) is a former Republican member of the United States House of Representatives for Arizona's 5th congressional district, 1985–2003 and 8th congressional district, 2003–2007.

Early life[edit]

Kolbe was born in Evanston, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, but when he was five, his family moved to a ranch in rural Santa Cruz County, Arizona. He attended Patagonia Elementary School and Patagonia Union High School, but graduated from the United States Capitol Page School in 1960 after serving for three years as a United States Senate Page for Barry Goldwater. He completed his higher education at Northwestern University in Evanston, where he was a member of Acacia Fraternity and Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, served in the United States Navy, and was a special assistant to Illinois Republican Governor Richard B. Ogilvie. He then moved to Tucson, Arizona, where he was a business executive.

In 1976, Kolbe ran for the Arizona Senate in a Tucson-area district and defeated a one-term Democrat who had been elected in the national Democratic wave of 1974. He served three terms in that body, and was majority whip from 1979 to 1982. He divorced his wife in 1992.[1]

Congressional career[edit]

In mid-1982, Kolbe resigned from the state Senate to run in the newly created 5th congressional district. He lost to Democrat Jim McNulty, a member of the Arizona Board of Regents, by 2,400 votes. However, Kolbe sought a rematch in 1984. Buoyed by Ronald Reagan's massive national landslide that year (Reagan carried the 5th with 60 percent of the vote), Kolbe won by 6,000 votes, becoming the first—and as of the 2012 elections, only—Republican to represent southern Arizona in the House. He was reelected 10 times, only facing serious opposition once. In 1998, former Tucson mayor Tom Volgy held Kolbe to only 51 percent of the vote. The district was renumbered the 8th district after the 2000 census.

Kolbe served as chair of the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs of the House Appropriations Committee.

Kolbe is a leading moderate Republican. This served him well; although his district included most of Tucson's Republican-leaning suburbs, the brand of Republicanism practiced in southern Arizona has traditionally been a moderate one. Like his mentor, Goldwater, he is pro-choice. He was generally more supportive of environmental legislation than most Republicans, especially those from the West. He is a member of various moderate Republican groups such as the Log Cabin Republicans, the Republican Main Street Partnership, the Republican Majority For Choice, Republicans for Choice, Republicans For Environmental Protection and It's My Party Too. He is one of the four Republicans who voted against the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act which was passed by the House of Representatives with 281-142 votes on October 2, 2003.

In 2002, Kolbe introduced the Legal Tender Modernization Act which would have ceased production of the U.S. one-cent piece (penny). In July 2006, Kolbe introduced the Currency Overhaul for an Industrious Nation (COIN) Act, which would round cash transactions to the nearest five cents. This act would effectively remove the penny from circulation. Kolbe argues that, because of inflation, the penny is virtually worthless, and that the U.S. should stop using the penny now that the costs of penny production exceed its value. Kolbe has received some media attention as one of the foremost promoters of eliminating the penny from circulation.

In 2004, State House Majority Whip Randy Graf challenged Kolbe for the Republican nomination. It was the first substantive primary challenge Kolbe had faced since his initial run for the seat in 1982. Graf ran well to Kolbe's right, but was best known for his hardline approach to illegal immigration. In contrast, Kolbe was a strong supporter of guest worker programs for immigrants. Immigration is a hot-button issue in the 8th, which takes up about half of Arizona's share of the Mexican border. Kolbe managed to fend Graf off. He easily won an 11th term in November.

On November 23, 2005, Kolbe announced that he would not seek a 12th term in 2006. His exit left the district open. While Kolbe had usually skated to reelection, it had been expected to be very competitive if he ever retired. (Bill Clinton had narrowly won the district in 1996, and George W. Bush narrowly edged out Al Gore and John Kerry in both of his presidential bids.) Graf won the five-candidate primary on September 12, 2006. Kolbe refused to endorse Graf, who lost to Democrat Gabrielle Giffords in the November 2006 election.

Kolbe endorsed State Senate President Tim Bee's bid to unseat Giffords in 2008. However, he withdrew his endorsement in July 2008.[2]

Sexual orientation[edit]

Kolbe came out as gay in August 1996 after his vote in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act spurred efforts by some gay rights activists to out him.[3] He won re-election that year. In 2000, he became the first openly gay person to address the Republican National Convention, although his speech did not address gay rights.[4] He was the second openly gay Republican to serve in Congress, the first being Steve Gunderson of Wisconsin.[5]

Even after coming out, Kolbe's record on gay rights was somewhat mixed. He was lukewarm in his support of same-sex marriage, but he strongly supported the availability of universal civil unions.

In 2013, Kolbe was a signatory to an amicus curiae brief submitted to the Supreme Court in support of same-sex marriage during the Hollingsworth v. Perry case.[6]

Mark Foley scandal[edit]

In 2000, when Kolbe found out about former Congressman Mark Foley's "Internet communications with teenagers" who were subordinate to Foley, he informed the office that oversaw the page program. He assumed the matter had been taken care of, although this was not brought to the public's attention until September 29, 2006[7] when it became public that Foley had sent sexually explicit and solicitative e-mails and instant messages to young adult male pages. Republican leaders had claimed that they had only recently been made aware of Foley's actions, despite Kolbe's actions.[8] In January 2007, the Federal Election Commission committee ruled that Kolbe could use campaign funds for legal expenses associated with the Foley scandal.[9] Former Senator Larry Craig cited this ruling in 2012 in defense against a lawsuit by the FEC regarding Craig's use of campaign funds in his own legal defense.[10]

In October 2006, federal prosecutors in Arizona opened a preliminary investigation into a camping trip that Kolbe took in July 1996 that included two teenage former congressional pages, as well as National Park officials, then-current staff, and Kolbe's sister. During that trip to the Grand Canyon, he was accused of "acting inappropriately"; NBC News interviewed several people who were on the trip, and their accounts vary. On June 5, 2007, federal investigators absolved Kolbe of any wrongdoing in the case. In a statement released by the Justice Department, "investigators have completed their work on the preliminary inquiry opened by federal prosecutors last fall, and see no reason to pursue it further." [11]

Current employment[edit]

Kolbe is now a fellow at the German Marshall Fund think tank and a consultant at Kissinger McLarty Associates. He focuses on issues that were his priorities when he was in Congress — trade, aid and migration. In the fall semesters 2007 to 2009, he taught a class on trade and globalization at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law in Tucson. He is a member of the board of directors of the International Republican Institute.[12] During the 2010 election he broke from the Republican Party to endorse the candidacy of Democrat Andrei Cherny for state treasurer.[13]

In September 2010, President Barack Obama appointed Kolbe to the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations.[14] Kolbe currently serves on the Board of Advisors for International Relief and Development Inc.[15] He is also a Co-Chairman of the dollar coin alliance.[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Free Library". The Free Library. Retrieved 2013-12-05. 
  2. ^ Burns, Alexander (July 7, 2008). "Bee gets stung by leading campaign backer". Politico. Retrieved February 22, 2012. 
  3. ^ Dunlap, David W. (August 3, 1996). "A Republican Congressman Discloses He Is a Homosexual". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-11-25. 
  4. ^ Campbell, Julia (August 1, 2000). "Openly Gay Congressman Addresses Convention". ABC News. 
  5. ^ Eaklor, Vicki Lynn (2008). Queer America: a GLBT history of the 20th century. ABC-CLIO. p. 213. ISBN 978-0-313-33749-9. 
  6. ^ Avlon, John (2013-02-28). "The Pro-Freedom Republicans Are Coming: 131 Sign Gay Marriage Brief". Thedailybeast.com. Retrieved 2013-12-05. 
  7. ^ Weisman, Jonathan (October 9, 2006). "Lawmaker Saw Foley Messages In 2000". The Washington Post. p. A01. Retrieved 2007-11-25. 
  8. ^ "Three More Former Pages Accuse Foley of Online Sexual Approaches". ABC News. October 5, 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-05. 
  9. ^ Associated Press (2007-12-25), "FEC: Kolbe may use campaign funds for defense in Foley case", Tucson Citizen, retrieved 2012-08-03 
  10. ^ Miller, John (2012-08-03), "Ex-Idaho senator: Bathroom trip official business", San Francisco Chronicle, retrieved 2012-08-03 
  11. ^ "Feds probe trip that Kolbe made with pages". NBC News. October 13, 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-13. 
  12. ^ "International Republican Institute web site, accessed July 16, 2010". Iri.org. Retrieved 2013-12-05. 
  13. ^ "Republican Kolbe endorses Democrat for treasurer". The Associated Press. August 30, 2010. 
  14. ^ Advocate.com Editors (2010-09-16). "Obama Appoints Kolbe to Trade Group". Advocate.com. Retrieved 2013-12-05. 
  15. ^ "IRD Board of Directors". Retrieved December 21, 2011. 
  16. ^ "About Our Coalition". Dollarcoinalliance.org. Retrieved 2013-12-05. 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
James Francis McNulty, Jr.
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arizona's 5th congressional district

1985–2003
Succeeded by
J. D. Hayworth
Preceded by
District Created after 2000 Census
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arizona's 8th congressional district

2003–2007
Succeeded by
Gabrielle Giffords