Spencer Bachus

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Spencer Bachus
Spencer Bachus official photo.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's 6th district
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 3, 1993
Preceded by Ben Erdreich
Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee
In office
January 3, 2011 – January 3, 2013
Preceded by Barney Frank
Succeeded by Jeb Hensarling
Member of the Alabama House of Representatives
from the 46th district
In office
January 3, 1984 – January 3, 1987
Preceded by Bryant Melton
Succeeded by William Slaughter
Member of the Alabama Senate
from the 17th district
In office
January 3, 1983 – January 3, 1984
Preceded by Doug Cook
Succeeded by Mac Parsons
Personal details
Born (1947-12-28) December 28, 1947 (age 66)
Birmingham, Alabama
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Linda Bachus
Children 5
Residence Vestavia Hills, Alabama
Alma mater Auburn University, University of Alabama School of Law
Occupation attorney
Religion Southern Baptist[1]
Military service
Service/branch United States Army National Guard
Years of service 1969–1971
Unit Alabama

Spencer Thomas Bachus III (born December 28, 1947) is the U.S. Representative for Alabama's 6th congressional district, serving since 1993. He is a member of the Republican Party and the senior member of the Alabama U.S. House delegation. The district includes most of the wealthier portions of Birmingham, along with most of that city's suburbs. A member of the Republican Party, he served as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee (2011-2013) and currently holds the title of Chairman Emeritus on the committee. On September 30, 2013, Bachus announced his retirement from Congress. His current term ends in 2014.[2]

Born in and raised in Birmingham, Bachus graduated from Auburn University and the University of Alabama Law School. He served in the Alabama National Guard before being elected to the Alabama State School Board in 1986 and holding the position of Alabama Republican Party Chairman in 1991. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1992 with 59 percent of the vote. He has been re-elected ever since by wide margins. From 2006 to 2012, Bachus was the leading Republican on the House Financial Services Committee, serving as committee chairman when his party held a House majority during the 112th Congress. Due to House Republican term limits on committee leadership positions,[3] Bachus was succeeded by Congressman Jeb Hensarling in 2013.

Early life, education, and pre-political career[edit]

Bachus was born in Birmingham, Alabama to Edith Wells and Spencer Thomas Bachus, Jr.[4] He graduated from Auburn University in 1969 where he became a member of the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity. He served in the Alabama National Guard from 1969 to 1971, during the Vietnam War, while attending law school; Bachus earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Alabama Law School in 1972. Prior to his political career, he owned a sawmill and practiced law until 1992.[5]

State politics[edit]

In 1982, Bachus was elected to the Alabama Senate. Because new legislative elections were scheduled for 1983, he served only one year. In 1983 he was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives. In 1986, he was elected as the first Republican to The Alabama State Board of Education, serving one four-year term representing the 6th District. In 1990, he ran unsuccessfully for Attorney General of Alabama. In 1991, he became Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, serving in that position until his campaign for Congress.

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

Summary[edit]

Bachus was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1992 with 59 percent of the vote. He has been re-elected ever since by wide margins. From 2006 to 2012, Bachus was the leading Republican on the House Financial Services Committee, serving as committee chairman when his party held a House majority during the 112th Congress. Due to House Republican term limits on committee leadership positions, Bachus was named Chairman Emeritus of the Financial Services Committee and rejoined the Judiciary Committee, which he had to take leave of when named Financial Services Chair.

On September 30, 2013, Bachus announced his retirement from Congress. His current term ends in 2014.

Elections[edit]

The 6th District and its predecessors had been based in Birmingham for over a century, but after the 1990 United States Census, the Justice Department required the state to have a black-majority district. The state legislature failed to act, and a federal court drafted a plan that significantly reconfigured both the 6th District and the neighboring 7th District. The new map shifted most of the predominantly black portions of Birmingham (which is over 60 percent black) to the 7th, which had been based in Tuscaloosa for over a century.

In the process, however, the court plan shifted most of the whiter and wealthier portions of Tuscaloosa to the 6th. Also added was Shelby County, a wealthy suburban county near Birmingham. The new 6th was almost 97 percent white, and on paper was one of the most Republican districts in the nation. Bachus immediately jumped into the race. Despite being state party chairman, he only won 39 percent of the vote in the five-candidate primary and was forced into a runoff with party activist Marty Connors. In the runoff, however, Bachus won handily with 59 percent of the vote.

Bachus then moved to the general election against five-term Democratic incumbent Ben Erdreich. Although Erdreich outspent Bachus by more than 2 to 1, he could not overcome the new district's heavy Republican tilt, as well as the fact that he was running in territory he did not know and that did not know him. Ultimately, Bachus defeated Erdreich by seven points. George H. W. Bush carried the new 6th with a staggering 71 percent of the vote, proving just how Republican this reconfigured district was. However, conservative Democrats continued to hold many local offices well into the 1990s.

Since 1992, Bachus has been re-elected nine times without anything resembling serious opposition. After defeating three underfunded Democrats with 70 percent or more of the vote, he did not face Democratic opposition at all from 2000 to 2010. John McCain carried the district in 2008 with 77 percent of the vote, his highest percentage in the nation.

2004

Bachus was challenged in the 2004 Republican primary by Phillip Jauregui, a member of former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore's legal team. Since no other party ran a candidate, victory in the Republican primary was tantamount to election in November. Jauregui claimed that Bachus wasn't doing enough to curb "judicial activism." However, Bachus won the primary easily, effectively clinching a seventh term.

2010

In the 2010 midterm elections Bachus easily turned back a challenge from tea party activist Stan Cooke in the Republican primary, winning 75% of the vote. For the fourth election in a row, no other party even put up a candidate, assuring Bachus of a 10th term.

2012

Bachus decided to run for re-election after redistricting to the newly redrawn 6th district. In the Republican primary, he drew three challengers, most notably State Senator Scott Beason. Beason ran well to Bachus's right and called for "true conservative leadership."[6] Bachus heavily outspent him. The incumbent spent over $1.5 million, outspending Beason 45-1.[7][8] Bachus defeated him 59%–27%. He won every county in the district except for Blount County.[9]

For the first time since 1998, Bachus faced a Democratic challenger. Colonel Penny Bailey defeated William Barnes to become the Democratic nominee.[10] However, Bachus turned back this challenge fairly easily, defeating Bailey with 71 percent of the vote.

Congressional Voting Record[edit]

Bachus has a conservative voting record, with a lifetime rating of 92 from the American Conservative Union. He is a signer of Americans for Tax Reform’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge.[11]

Bachus has been an active legislator, engaging in many important issues over the course of his Congressional career. He helped amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act to curtail identity theft and ease consumer access to their credit reports. Bachus also has a reputation for good constituent service.

1990's

In the late 1990's, during his tenure as Chairman of the Banking Oversight Committee, he uncovered the Community Development Financial Institute (CDFI), which led to the resignation of the top two CDFI officials.

In the 1990s he became an advocate of international debt relief for the Third World, and joined a broad coalition of activists in a one-day fast to demand action, which was ultimately successful. He criticized the Bush administration over negotiations with the genocidal regime in Sudan, and urged Bush to stop payment of oil revenues to the Sudanese government. [12] Bachus was credited when the Bush Administration decided, in 2007, to place sanctions on Sudan. [13]

In 1995, Bachus pushed for the creation of the Alabama National Cemetery, a United States National Cemetery located in Montevallo, Alabama. Bachus said, “The Alabama National Cemetery will always be the thing I’m most proud of...It was the second one built, and I’m so thankful for it. We now (have) veterans from every war buried there."[14]

On November 4, 1999, Bachus voted in favor of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act,[15] This law repealed part of the Glass–Steagall Act of 1933, removing barriers in the market among banking companies, securities companies and insurance companies that prohibited any one institution from acting as any combination of an investment bank, a commercial bank, and an insurance company. With the passage of the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act, commercial banks, investment banks, securities firms, and insurance companies were allowed to consolidate. The legislation was signed into law by President Bill Clinton.

2000s

While Bachus was Chairman of the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit (2001 – 2006), the House of Representatives passed and the President signed into law the The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (P.L. 108-159), which contained the strongest federal identity theft protections enacted into law to that date and entitled consumers to annual free credit reports from each of three major credit bureaus.

Additionally, while Bachus was Subcommittee Chairman, enacted into law was The Check Clearing for the 21st Century (CHECK) Act of 2003 (P.L. 108-100). This law authorized the use of digital versions of paper checks for transfer by financial institutions, saving money and eliminating delays and losses caused by the transportation of physical checks.

Again, as Subcommittee Chairman, Bachus played a leading role in passing the The Federal Deposit Insurance Reform Conforming Amendments Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-173), which reformed the federal deposit insurance system and raised the FDIC coverage limit for retirement accounts to $250,000.

On June 29, 2005 he voted for the increase of funds by another $25 million for anti-marijuana print and TV ads.[16]

On Jul 26, 2002 he voted for the Homeland Security Act of 2002 which created the Department of Homeland Security. [17]

On December 14, 2005 he voted for the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act. The USA PATRIOT Act is an Act of Congress that was signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 26, 2001. The title of the act is a ten-letteracronym (USA PATRIOT) that stands for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001.[1] On May 26, 2011, President Barack Obama signed the PATRIOT Sunsets Extension Act of 2011.

Bachus is a staunch advocate of a federal prohibition of online poker. In 2006, he cosponsored H.R. 4411, the Goodlatte-Leach Internet Gambling Prohibition Act[18] and H.R. 4777, the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act.[19] In 2008, he opposed H.R. 5767, the Payment Systems Protection Act (a bill that sought to place a moratorium on enforcement of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act while the U.S. Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve defined "unlawful Internet gambling").

In 2010, Bachus stated that “ending the bailout of Fannie [Mae] and Freddie [Mac]” was his top priority as Chairman of the Financial Services Committee. He said that “using taxpayer money to subsidize the mortgage market is an addiction” and that “House Republicans want to reform the housing finance system in a way that does not rely on government guarantees, that does not make private investors and creditors wealthy while saddling taxpayers with losses, and that does not set the stage for the next financial crisis.” [20]

In 2011, the FBI and American Football Coaches Association honored Bachus for his advocacy and support for the National Child Identification Prorgram. The National Child Identification Program tries to help combat cases of missing or abducted children by providing identification kits to parents that allow the parents or other guardians to keep their children's fingerprints and other identifying characteristics on file at their home. [21]

In 2012, Bachus called on Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to speed up veterans claims processing. In a letter to the Secretary, Bachus wrote that the benefit claims backlog facing veterans nationwide is causing veterans to face growing debt or postpone plans to pursue college education. He demanded that the Department outline the specific steps being taken to reduce the backlog. [22]

In 2013, Bachus was the only member of Alabama’s congressional delegation to vote in favor of defunding the National Security Agency’s collection of phone records. Bachus has been an outspoken critic of the NSA program since news of it was leaked by Edward Snowden. [23]

Bachus is a lead House sponsor of legislation offering federal protection to the American flag, prohibiting its desecration. On Flag Day 2013, he joined Rep. Daniel Lipinski, D-IL, to co-sponsor an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that says “Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.”

Other Issues[edit]

Bachus also has been active in advancing the search for Natalee Holloway, who went missing while on a senior trip to Aruba. Holloway attended high school in Mountain Brook, an affluent Birmingham suburb in the congressman's district.

In 2005, Bill Maher commented about the Army missing its recruiting goal by 42 percent in April, saying, "More people joined the Michael Jackson fan club. We've done picked all the low-lying Lynndie England fruit, and now we need warm bodies." Bachus responded to Maher's comments, saying "I think it borders on treason. In treason, one definition is to undermine the effort or national security of our country."[24]

In 2007, Bachus was falsely accused of insider trading. He was subsequently cleared by the Office of Congressional Ethics. The Congressional Ethics inquiry stemmed from an allegation by Peter Schweizer and later reported by 60 Minutes that Bachus made trades with a number of short term stock options, betting that stocks would rise or fall for a quick profit or loss. [25] Schwizer claimed that from July through November 2008, Bachus traded in options at least forty times. During this period, Bachus was one of the Congressional leaders getting private briefings from Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson and Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Ben Bernanke about the worsening financial crisis. Bachus said that he "never trades on non public information, or financial services stocks".[26] On April 30, 2012 the Office of Congressional Ethics announced that they had found no evidence of violations of insider-trading rules and recommend that the case against him be closed.[27] Roderick Hills and Harvey Pitt, former Chairmen of the Securities and Exchange Commission who reviewed the accusations, wrote "the original source for these allegations was a sensational, but factually inaccurate, book, followed by an adulatory (but equally inaccurate) '60 Minutes' segment about it. The allegations in the book, vis-à-vis Mr. Bachus, are inaccurate; far worse, however, is that these allegations are laughable to serious students of insider trading law."[28]

In an interview where he spoke about the outlook he would bring to his chairmanship of the Financial Services Committee, Bachus received criticism for suggesting that it was government's role to "serve the banks".[29] To the Birmingham News, Bachus said "In Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated, and my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks." Bachus later clarified his words by saying that he meant that regulators should set guidelines for banks but not micromanage them.[30]

On April 9, 2009, Bachus claimed "Some of the men and women I work with in Congress are socialists,"[31] later stating that 17 members of the House of Representatives are socialists.[32]

On November 4, 2010, while in the midst of a battle for the chairmanship of the House Financial Services Committee with Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) and immediately following the 2010 general election, Bachus told the South Shelby (Ala.) Chamber of Commerce that former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and candidates she endorsed cost the Republican Party control of the U.S. Senate. “The Senate would be Republican today except for states (in which Gov. Palin endorsed candidates) like Christine O’Donnell in Delaware,” Bachus said. “Sarah Palin cost us control of the Senate.” He went on to say that Tea Party candidates did well in U.S. House races, but in the U.S. Senate races, “they didn’t do well at all.”[33] Bachus would later backtrack from his comments.

Conservative writers and lawmakers including Hugh Hewitt,[34] BigGovernment.com's Rich Muny,[35][36] and Senator James Inhofe[37] (R-OK) immediately defended both Sarah Palin and the Tea Party movement, crediting them with gains in both the House and the Senate. Hewitt and Muny further demanded that Bachus not be awarded chairmanship of the House Financial Services Committee. Palin responded with criticism of the "Bachus bigger government agenda," citing Bachus's support for the Troubled Asset Relief Program and "Cash for Clunkers."[38][39]

Committee assignments[edit]

Spencer Bachus as Chair of the House Financial Services Committee
  • Chairman of the Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial, and Antitrust Law. (Subcommittee Chairman)
  • Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.

Caucus memberships[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Bachus and his wife Linda are the parents of five children.

Electoral history[edit]

Alabama's 6th congressional district: Results 1992–2012[40]

Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
1992 Ben Erdreich 126,062 45.00% Spencer Bachus 146,599 52.23% Carla Cloum Independent 4,521 1.61% Mark Bodenhausen Libertarian 2,836 1.01% *
1994 Larry Fortenberry 41,030 20.91% Spencer Bachus 155,047 79.02% *
1996 Mary Lynn Bates 69,592 27.31% Spencer Bachus 180,781 70.93% T. Franklin Harris Libertarian 2,293 0.90% Diane Susan Vogel Natural Law 2,113 0.83% *
1998 Donna W. Smalley 60,657 28.14% Spencer Bachus 154,761 71.79% *
2000 (no candidate) Spencer Bachus 212,751 87.94% Terry Reagin Libertarian 28,189 11.65% Write-ins 977 0.41%
2002 (no candidate) Spencer Bachus 178,171 89.83% J. Holden McAllister Libertarian 19,639 9.90% Write-ins 536 0.27%
2004 (no candidate) Spencer Bachus 264,819 98.80% Write-ins 3,224 1.20%
2006 (no candidate) Spencer Bachus 163,514 98.33% Write-ins 2,786 1.68%
2008 (no candidate) Spencer Bachus 280,902 97.79% Write-ins 6,335 2.21%
2010 (no candidate) Spencer Bachus 205,288 98.05% Write-ins 4,076 1.95%
2012 ''Penny Bailey 86,698 29.6% Spencer Bachus 215,966 71.2% Write-ins 573 0.2%
*Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 1992, write-ins received 121 votes. In 1994, write-ins received 145 votes. In 1996, write-ins received 80 votes. In 1998, write-ins received 164 votes.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Baptist Press -Ten Southern Baptists sworn in as new reps. - News with a Christian Perspective
  2. ^ "Spencer Bachus, dean of Alabama delegation, retiring". Politico. 
  3. ^ "Jeb Hensarling eyes financial panel chairmanship". Politico. 
  4. ^ "Spencer Thomas Bachus III". rootsweb. ancestry.com. 
  5. ^ "Veterans in the U.S. House of Representatives 109th Congress" (PDF). Navy League. Archived from the original on June 26, 2007. Retrieved December 9, 2006. 
  6. ^ "U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus turns back three challengers in primary and wins without run-off". Retrieved March 14, 2012. 
  7. ^ Bachus Wins Republican Primary in Alabama - NationalJournal.com
  8. ^ Spencer Bachus faces fight of his career - Alex Isenstadt - POLITICO.com
  9. ^ Our Campaigns - AL District 06 - R Primary Race - Mar 13, 2012
  10. ^ "Alabama Secretary of State". 
  11. ^ "The Taxpayer Protection Pledge Signers 112th Congressional List". Americans for Tax Reform. Retrieved November 30, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Bachus' plan could force Sudan to stop humanitarian crisis". Tuscaloosa News. July 13, 2004. 
  13. ^ "Bush finally comes around to Bachus view". Tuscaloosa News. June 2, 2007. 
  14. ^ Griffey, Jan (23 December 2013). "Bachus reflects on 20 years in office". The Shelby County Reporter. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  15. ^ "House Vote on Conference Report: S. 900 [106th]: Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.". GovTrack. Civic Impulse, LLC. November 4, 1999. 
  16. ^ "Vote Count H.R. 3058". Washington Post. 
  17. ^ "H.R. 5005 Homeland Security Act of 2002 (On Passage of the Bill)". Gov Track. 
  18. ^ "Bill Summary & Status: 109th Congress (2005–2006): H.R.4411: Internet Gambling Prohibition and Enforcement Act". Thomas (Library of Congress). July 13, 2006. 
  19. ^ "Bill Summary & Status: 109th Congress (2005–2006): H.R.4777: Internet Gambling Prohibition Act". Thomas (Library of Congress). 
  20. ^ "Bachus: Ending the Bail Out of Fannie and Freddie". CNBC. 
  21. ^ "U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus honored for support of National Child Identification Program". Al.com. 
  22. ^ "Congressman Spencer Bachus calls on VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to speed up veterans claims processing". Al.com. 
  23. ^ "Only one member of Alabama's congressional delegation votes to defund NSA's collection of phone records". Al.com. 
  24. ^ "Bill Maher's Remark About Army 'Borders on Treason,' Lawmaker Says". Fox News. Associated Press. May 23, 2010. 
  25. ^ David Weigel (November 14, 2011). "Spencer Bachus, Rogue Trader". Slate. Retrieved November 15, 2011. 
  26. ^ John Bresnahan (November 13, 2011). "'60 Minutes' on 'honest graft'". Politico. Retrieved November 15, 2011. 
  27. ^ Scott Higham. "Congress ethics office clears Bachus of insider trading". Washington Post. 
  28. ^ Hills, Roderick. "The politics of congressional ethics". Gadsden Times. Retrieved October 27, 2013. 
  29. ^ Schroeder, Peter (December 13, 2010). "Rep. Bachus tells local paper that Washington should 'serve' banks". The Hill. 
  30. ^ Orndorff, Mary (December 9, 2010). "Spencer Bachus finally gets his chairmanship". Birmingham News. 
  31. ^ Gray, Jeremy (April 9, 2009). "Bachus tells city and county officials he's worried about socialists in Congress". The Birmingham News. 
  32. ^ Sims, Bob (April 10, 2009). "Rep. Spencer Bachus of Alabama says 17 members of the Congress are socialists". The Birmingham News. 
  33. ^ Griffey, Jan (November 7, 2010). "Spencer Bachus: Sarah Palin cost GOP control of U.S. Senate". Shelby County Reporter. 
  34. ^ Hewitt, Hugh (November 9, 2010). "Will John Boehner Promote Spencer Bachus? The First Big Test For The New Speaker". HughHewitt.com. 
  35. ^ Muny, Rich (November 9, 2010). "GOP Rep. Spencer Bachus Lashes Out at Tea Party, Sarah Palin". BigGovernment.com. 
  36. ^ Muny, Rich (November 12, 2010). "Will the GOP Establishment Betray Tea Party for the ‘Bachus Bigger Government Agenda’?". BigGovernment.com. 
  37. ^ Rushing, J. Taylor (November 9, 2010). "Inhofe: Tea Party candidates helped, not hurt GOP". The Hill. 
  38. ^ Puzzanghera, Jim (November 10, 2010). "Palin drawn into House Financial Services Committee chairmanship fight". L.A. Times. 
  39. ^ Strong, Jonathan (November 9, 2010). "Palin pushes back at Bachus, cites his ‘bigger government agenda’". The Daily Caller. 
  40. ^ "Election Statistics". Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Retrieved January 10, 2008. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Ben Erdreich
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's 6th congressional district

1993 – present
Succeeded by
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Barney Frank
Massachusetts
Chairman of House Financial Services Committee
2011–2013
Succeeded by
Jeb Hensarling
Texas
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Jim Cooper
D-Tennessee
United States Representatives by seniority
49th
Succeeded by
Xavier Becerra
D-California