Mary Rose Oakar
|Mary Rose Oakar|
|Member of the Ohio House of Representatives
from the 13th district
January 3, 2001 – December 31, 2002
|Preceded by||Barbara C. Pringle|
|Succeeded by||Michael J. Skindell|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Ohio's 20th district
January 3, 1977 – January 3, 1993
|Preceded by||James V. Stanton|
|Succeeded by||District eliminated|
March 5, 1940 |
Mary Rose Oakar (born March 5, 1940) is an American Democratic politician and former member of the United States House of Representatives from Ohio, the first Democratic woman elected to the United States Congress from that state.
Early life 
Oakar, who graduated with a B.A. from Ursuline College in 1962 and an M.A. from John Carroll University in 1966, taught at Lourdes Academy, a Catholic high school for women, directed plays, taught at Cuyahoga Community College from 1968 to 1975 and served on the Cleveland City Council from 1973 to 1976 before winning election to the House from Ohio's 20th congressional district in Cleveland's West Side and the surrounding suburbs. She took office in 1977, succeeding James V. Stanton.
Political career 
Oakar, one of only a handful of Arab-American members of the House, became regarded as an increasingly powerful member. She was a high-ranking member of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, the Committee on Post Office and Civil Service and the House Administration Committee. Oakar's high placement on these committees allowed her to bring home to Cleveland large sums of money for urban renewal. Oakar forged strong relationships with Jewish groups in Cleveland. From 1985 to 1989, Oakar was elected to a position in the House Democratic leadership, as Secretary of the House Democratic Caucus.
In 1991, she was one of nearly one-hundred Members of Congress in the widespread House banking scandal involving multiple overdrafts and bounced checks. The House Bank, not a normally operating financial institution, was used to pay members of the house. However, members were allowed to take advances on their pay checks without overdraft charges or repercussions to their credit. Oakar was indicted on seven counts, including lying to the FBI and filing false financial statements and using the House bank to convert public money for personal use. Her nephews Joseph DeMio and Ignatius DeMio were also indicted on conspiracy charges, Ignatius pleaded guilty. If sentenced, she could have received 40 years in prison and a $1.7 million fine. In a plea agreement, she pled guilty to two misdemeanor charges; conspiracy and violation of election law. She used the names of straw donors on federal documents to conceal illegal contributions amounting to $16,000. Three counts against her were thrown out by the Supreme Court because members of the house cannot be prosecuted for lying to congress, the others were dropped after taking a plea bargain.
In 1992, her district was renumbered the 10th and redrawn to include more Republicans, though it was still solidly Democratic. Oakar withstood a challenge from Cuyahoga County Commissioner Tim Hagan in the Democratic primary — Hagan had been endorsed by Cleveland Mayor Michael R. White — but lost to businessman Martin Hoke in the general election.
She won a 1999 libel settlement against Cleveland's newspaper, The Plain Dealer after seven years in court. In April 1992 the Cleveland's Plain Dealer released articles alleging that Oakar was forced to resign from a congressional task force after the House Banking Scandal. The paper acknowledged that the eight term Democrat "was rightfully upset that erroneous information" had been printed.
Oakar unsuccessfully ran in the 2001 Cleveland Mayoral Primary and served a single term in the Ohio House of Representatives from 2000 to 2002.
Currently, Oakar is president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), which describes itself as the largest Arab-American grassroots civil-rights organization in the U.S.
- "OAKAR, Mary Rose, (1940 - )". bioguide.congress.gov. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
- "Women Elected to Party Leadership Positions". Women in Congress. U.S. House of Representatives. Retrieved 2008-12-15.
- Holden Lewis (Feb. 22, 2000). "Congress comes down from the hill to bank with the rest of us". BankRate.com. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
- Associated Press (February 23, 1995). "Ex-Rep. Oakar Indicted in House Bank Scandal". The Los Angeles Times.
- "Mary Rose Oakar". Congressional Bad Boys. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
- "Mary Rose Oakar: Representative, 1977–1993, Democrat from Ohio". Women In Congress. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
- Lori Robertson (April 1999). "After All These Years". American Journalism Review. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
- Mary Rose Oakar at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Profile on the Ohio Ladies' Gallery website
|United States House of Representatives|
James V. Stanton
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Ohio's 20th congressional district
District eliminated after 1990 Census
|Party political offices|
|Secretary of Democratic Caucus of the United States House of Representatives