Robert Wexler

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Robert Wexler
RobertWexlerPhoto.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 19th district
In office
January 3, 1997 – January 3, 2010
Preceded by Harry Johnston
Succeeded by Ted Deutch
Personal details
Born (1961-01-02) January 2, 1961 (age 53)
Queens, New York
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Laurie Wexler
Children Rachel Wexler
Zachary Wexler
Hannah Wexler
Residence Delray Beach, Florida
Alma mater George Washington University Law School (J.D.)
University of Florida (B.A.)
Occupation Attorney
Religion Judaism

Robert Wexler (born January 2, 1961) is the president of the Washington-based S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace.[1]

Wexler was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Florida's 19th congressional district,[2] from 1997 until his resignation on January 3, 2010.[3]

Early life[edit]

Wexler was born in Queens, New York to Sonny and Sandra Wexler. He and his family moved to South Florida when he was ten.[1] Wexler graduated from Hollywood Hills High School in Hollywood, Florida and later attended Emory University for a year. He transferred to the University of Florida, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science in 1982. Wexler received his law degree from The George Washington University Law School in 1985 and was a lawyer in private practice with Shutts & Bowen before serving in the House.

Political career[edit]

Wexler served in the Florida Senate from 1990 to 1996 before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in the 1996 election, filling the open seat vacated by fellow Democrat Harry Johnston. He has been reelected five times, never facing serious opposition in one of the most Democratic districts in Florida. On January 3, 2010, he resigned to become executive director of the Center for Middle East Peace and Economic Cooperation, a Washington-based think tank.[4]

Matzoh pricing[edit]

In April 1997, Wexler asked that an investigation be started to determine why the price of matzoh, the unleavened bread that is a staple at Jewish tables during Passover, varied so much throughout the country.[5] "It's the biggest thing since the Pharoh let us out of Egypt," Wexler said while also advising his constituents to "Get your family and friends to buy five-pound boxes in the Bronx and FedEx it down here."[6]

Rep. Robert Wexler

Wexler announces support for impeachment hearings[edit]

In an e-mail to supporters on November 7, 2007, Representative Robert Wexler, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, stated about H.Res. 333:

I will urge the Judiciary Committee to schedule impeachment hearings immediately and not let this issue languish as it has over the last six months. Only through hearings can we bring begin to correct the abuses of Dick Cheney and the Bush Administration; and, if it is determined in these hearings that Vice President Cheney has committed High Crimes and Misdemeanors, he should be impeached and removed from office.[2]

In mid December 2007, Congressman Wexler launched a website (Wexlerwantshearings.com) to promote his effort for impeachment hearings. The site included a YouTube video where he explained his position and a petition for like-minded people to sign. Wexler set a goal of getting 50,000 Americans to join his cause. In just two weeks, over 200,000 people signed the petition and over 70,000 people watched his YouTube video.

Call for McClellan testimony[edit]

After the release of the controversial book What Happened by former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, Wexler went on record as saying he would like McClellan to testify under oath about the alleged crimes of the Bush Administration. The Bush Administration has claimed that such proceedings would be a violation of executive privilege. At the time, Wexler was a member of the House Judiciary Committee.[7] The testimony was offered on June 20 by former Bush press secretary Scott McClellan.[8]

2008 presidential election[edit]

On March 2, 2007, Congressman Wexler endorsed Barack Obama as a candidate for the 2008 Presidential election. On May 31, 2008, he spoke at the Democratic National Committee's Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting on behalf of the Obama campaign. He argued for a reinstatement of both pledged and superdelegates from the state of Florida to the 2008 Democratic National Convention, with both exercising a half vote at the Convention. He called this an "equitable solution", allowing Florida to participate in the Democratic Party's nominating process, and acknowledged that this would result in a net gain of nineteen delegates from Florida for Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was Barack Obama's chief opponent in the nominating process.

Articles of impeachment[edit]

On June 10, 2008 Wexler co-sponsored and signed Dennis Kucinich's articles of impeachment for George W. Bush. He referred to the Congressional Oath of Office saying it was the duty of Congress to act, and stated: "President Bush deliberately created a massive propaganda campaign to sell the war in Iraq to the American people and the charges detailed in this impeachment resolution indicate an unprecedented abuse of executive power."[9] Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi repeatedly said she would not support a resolution calling for Bush's impeachment, saying such a move was unlikely to succeed and would be divisive.[10] The House voted 251 to 166 to refer the impeachment resolution to the Judiciary Committee on July 25, 2008, where no further action was taken on it.[11] Bush's presidency ended on January 20, 2009, with the completion of his second term in office, rendering impeachment efforts moot.

Residency dispute[edit]

In July 2008, Fox news host Bill O'Reilly revealed that Wexler claims his mother-in-law's home in Delray Beach as his official residence (though he is listed on the House roll as "D-Boca Raton"), but lives in a Maryland suburb for most of the year. Edward J. Lynch, a Republican running for Wexler's congressional seat, has been researching Wexler's living arrangements and took his argument to the Fox News program. "The house he lists on his voter registration is his in-laws' house, in a gated 55-and-older community," Lynch said. "Legally, he can't move back with children under 18." After Wexler was confronted about the allegation, he stated that his mother-in-law does own the house in Delray Beach. But he also said he stays there when in Florida which, according to his office is, on average, about twice a month. As a Florida resident, Wexler does not pay personal income tax, and his vehicles are also registered in that state, despite his near-permanent residency in the Washington metropolitan area.[12]

Wexler, born in 1961, also does not personally meet the age requirements for his mother-in-law's 55-and-older community. However, 55-and-older communities are required, both by Florida law, and federal equal housing laws, to permit a small percentage of younger residents.[citation needed] Wexler later obtained a separate address within Palm Beach County.

Committee assignments and caucus memberships[edit]

Caucus memberships[edit]

The following is a partial list of Wexler's congressional caucus memberships:[citation needed]

  • Congressional Caucus on Global Road Safety (co-founder and co-chairman)
  • Caucus on U.S.-Turkish Relations (co-founder)
  • Taiwan Caucus (co-founder)
  • Caucus on Intellectual Property Promotion and Piracy Prevention (co-founder/co-chairman)
  • Indonesia Caucus (co-founder/co-chairman)
  • Congressional Study Group on Turkey (co-chair)
  • Congressional Progressive Caucus
  • India Caucus
  • Serbia Caucus

Notable media appearances[edit]

Colbert Report interview[edit]

Congressman Wexler's multiple appearances on The Colbert Report have elevated him to status of being a bona fide "friend of the show."[citation needed] On the July 20, 2006, episode, during an interview for the segment Better Know a District, Wexler went along with Stephen Colbert's idea of making jokes about the use of cocaine. Led by Stephen Colbert, he first repeated what Colbert had said, then completed with the following statements (see video):

I enjoy cocaine because... it's a fun thing to do.

I enjoy the company of prostitutes for the following reasons: ...oh, because it's a fun thing to do. Much like cocaine. If you combine the two together, it's probably even more fun.

Good Morning America, The Today Show (the ABC and NBC morning shows), and Fox News aired edited versions of the segment. In response, on the July 25, 2006 episode of his show, Colbert castigated those network's morning shows for broadcasting edited versions of the interview in a misleading and negative light. He also told his viewers to "vote Wexler, the man's got a sense of humor, unlike, evidently, journalists."

On November 7, 2006, Wexler returned to The Colbert Report during the show's "Midterm Midtacular" special and joked about what he said in the earlier interview. When Colbert asked him if he would "reach across the aisle" if the Democrats took back the House (video clip), Wexler was cautious and joked that he learned from the last interview he had to watch what he said.

The Hill[edit]

In August and September 2006, Wexler and his office staff were featured on The Hill, a six-part documentary on the Sundance Channel.[13]

Daily Show - Defunding of UNESCO[edit]

On the March 15, 2012 episode of The Daily Show, John Oliver interviewed former Rep. Wexler. Wexler defended the United States cutting its funding to UNESCO, based upon a statute that prohibits funding of organizations which recognize Palestinian statehood. These cuts will result in the reduction or elimination of certain humanitarian programs administered by UNESCO. Wexler indicated that the cut in funding is necessary to "send a message" to organizations that support Palestinian statehood.[14]

Family[edit]

Wexler is married to the former Laurie Cohen. They have three children, Rachel, Zachary, and Hannah. The eldest, Rachel, graduated Brown University with a degree in English. The middle child, Zachary, is currently attending George Washington University.

Election results[edit]

Wexler ran unopposed in the 1998, 2004, and the 2006 elections.

Florida's 19th Congressional District Election, 1998
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Robert Wexler* ' 100.00%
Florida's 19th Congressional District Election, 2000
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Robert Wexler* 171,080 72.12%
Republican Morris Kent Thompson 67,789 23.88%
Totals 238,869 100.00%
Democratic hold
Florida's 19th Congressional District Election, 2002
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Robert Wexler* 156,747 72.16%
Republican Jack Merkle 60,477 27.84%
Totals 217,224 100.00%
Democratic hold
Florida's 19th Congressional District Election, 2004
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Robert Wexler* ' 100.00%
Totals ' 100.00%
Democratic hold
Florida's 19th Congressional District Election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Robert Wexler* ' 100.00%
Totals ' 100.00%
Democratic hold
Florida's 19th Congressional District Election, 2008
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Robert Wexler* 202,465 66.16%
Republican Edward Lynch 83,357 27.24%
Independent Benjamin Graber 20,214 6.61%
Totals 306,036 100.00%
Democratic hold

References[edit]

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Harry Johnston
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 19th congressional district

1997–2010
Succeeded by
Ted Deutch