|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's 6th district
January 3, 1993
|Preceded by||Ben Erdreich|
|Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee|
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
January 3, 1984 – January 3, 1987
|Preceded by||Bryant Melton|
|Succeeded by||William Slaughter|
|Member of the Alabama Senate
from the 17th district
January 3, 1983 – January 3, 1984
|Preceded by||Doug Cook|
|Succeeded by||Mac Parsons|
December 28, 1947 |
|Residence||Vestavia Hills, Alabama|
|Alma mater||Auburn University, University of Alabama School of Law|
|Service/branch||United States Army National Guard|
|Years of service||1969–1971|
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 and Tuscaloosa, along with most of their suburbs. In 2012, his record of stock and option trades (including during the 2008 financial crisis) drew scrutiny and accusations of insider trading, charges that he was subsequently cleared of by the Office of Congressional Ethics.
Early life, education, and pre-political career
Bachus was born in Birmingham, Alabama to Edith Wells and Spencer Thomas Bachus, Jr. He currently lives in Vestavia Hills, a Birmingham suburb. 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; he 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.
Bachus was elected to the Alabama Senate in 1982, but served only one year as new legislative elections were scheduled for 1983 when the existing district lines were declared unconstitutional. He then was elected to a seat in 1983 in the Alabama House of Representatives serving one three-year term. In 1986, he was elected as the first Republican on The Alabama State Board of Education serving just one four-year term from the 6th District. In 1990, he ran unsuccessfully for attorney general of Alabama. He became chairman of the Alabama Republican Party in 1991, serving in that position until his campaign for election to Congress.
U.S. House of Representatives
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.
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.
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.
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 to Bachus' right and called for "true conservative leadership." Bachus heavily outspent him. The incumbent spent over $1.5 million, outspending Beason 45-1. Bachus defeated him 59%–27%. He won every county in the district.
For the first time since 1998, faced a Democratic challenger. Colonel Penny Bailey defeated William Barnes to become the Democratic nominee.
Bachus has a mostly, but not totally, conservative voting record, with a lifetime rating of 92 from the American Conservative Union. During his tenure as Chairman of the Banking Oversight Committee, he uncovered the Community Development Financial Institute (CDFI) incident during the Clinton administration, which led to the resignation of the top two CDFI officials. Although less adversarial during the Bush administration, he has remained an active legislator, helping to amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act to curtail identity theft and ease consumer access to their credit reports. He also has a reputation for good constituent service.
On December 14, 2005 he voted for the reauthorization of the U.S. Patriot Act. On June 29, 2005 he voted for the increase of funds by another $25 million for anti-marijuana print and TV ads. On October 6, 2005 he voted for the Department of Homeland Security.
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 and H.R. 4777, the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act. 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 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 in 2002 over negotiations with the genocidal regime in Sudan, and has urged Bush to stop payment of oil revenues to the Sudanese government.
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."
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.
- Stock trading
In 2007, Bachus made trades with a number of short term stock options, betting that stocks would rise or fall for a quick profit or loss. Bachus made up to $160,000, including a bet in March that the stock market would drop that earned him between $15,000 and $50,000. Most members of Congress hold some stocks or mutual funds, but Bachus' rapid-fire trades are unusual for a leading member of Congress, particularly one with the key role of ranking member of the House Committee on Financial Services.
From July through November 2008, Bachus traded in options at least forty times, making money from betting against the market as it collapsed that year. 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".
Bachus bought option funds that would go up in value if the financial market went down right before the Financial Crisis in 2008 directly following a closed door session with Fed Chairman and Treasury Secretary, in which he was informed of the pending financial crash. 60 Minutes detailed the event. 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.
- Socialists claim
- Criticism of Sarah Palin and Christine O’Donnell
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.” Bachus would later backtrack from his comments.
Conservative writers and lawmakers including Hugh Hewitt, BigGovernment.com's Rich Muny, and Senator James Inhofe (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' support for the Troubled Asset Relief Program and "Cash for Clunkers."
- Congress' relationship to banks
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". 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.
- Committee on Financial Services (Chairman Emeritus)
- Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus
- Congressional Caucus on Turkey and Turkish Americans
- Congressional Cement Caucus
- Congressional China Caucus
- Congressional Fire Services Caucus
- Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus
- Congressional Steel Caucus
- Friends of Switzerland Caucus
- House Cancer Caucus
- International Conservation Caucus
- Passenger Rail Caucus
- Republican Study Committee
Bachus and his wife Linda are the parents of five children.
|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%|
- Higham, Scott. "Congress ethics office clears Bachus of insider trading". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 20, 2012.
- "Spencer Thomas Bachus III". rootsweb. ancestry.com.
- "U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus turns back three challengers in primary and wins without run-off". Retrieved March 14, 2012.
- "Alabama Secretary of State".
- "House Vote on Conference Report: S. 900 [106th]: Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act". GovTrack. Civic Impulse, LLC. November 4, 1999.
- Baram, Marcus (September 19, 2008). "Who's Whining Now? Gramm Slammed By Economists". ABC News.
- Paletta, Damian; Scannell, Kara (March 10, 2009). "Ten Questions for Those Fixing the Financial Mess". The Wall Street Journal.
- "Bill Summary & Status: 109th Congress (2005–2006): H.R.4411: Internet Gambling Prohibition and Enforcement Act". Thomas (Library of Congress). July 13, 2006.
- "Bill Summary & Status: 109th Congress (2005–2006): H.R.4777: Internet Gambling Prohibition Act". Thomas (Library of Congress).
- "Bill Maher's Remark About Army 'Borders on Treason,' Lawmaker Says". Fox News. Associated Press. May 23, 2010.
- "The Taxpayer Protection Pledge Signers 112th Congressional List". Americans for Tax Reform. Retrieved November 30, 2011.
- "Rogers tends to federal issues, doesn’t talk taxes". AlexCityOutlook. Retrieved February 18, 2012.
- Ben Evans (September 23, 2008). "Lead financial services lawmaker defends trading". USA Today. Associated Press.
- David Weigel (November 14, 2011). "Spencer Bachus, Rogue Trader". Slate. Retrieved November 15, 2011.
- John Bresnahan (November 13, 2011). "'60 Minutes' on 'honest graft'". Politico. Retrieved November 15, 2011.
- Kroft, Steve. "Congress: Trading stock on inside information?". 60 Minutes, Nov. 13, 2011. CBS. Retrieved December 4, 2011.
- Gray, Jeremy (April 9, 2009). "Bachus tells city and county officials he's worried about socialists in Congress". The Birmingham News.
- Sims, Bob (April 10, 2009). "Rep. Spencer Bachus of Alabama says 17 members of the Congress are socialists". The Birmingham News.
- Griffey, Jan (November 7, 2010). "Spencer Bachus: Sarah Palin cost GOP control of U.S. Senate". Shelby County Reporter.
- Hewitt, Hugh (November 9, 2010). "Will John Boehner Promote Spencer Bachus? The First Big Test For The New Speaker". HughHewitt.com.
- Muny, Rich (November 9, 2010). "GOP Rep. Spencer Bachus Lashes Out at Tea Party, Sarah Palin". BigGovernment.com.
- Muny, Rich (November 12, 2010). "Will the GOP Establishment Betray Tea Party for the ‘Bachus Bigger Government Agenda’?". BigGovernment.com.
- Rushing, J. Taylor (November 9, 2010). "Inhofe: Tea Party candidates helped, not hurt GOP". The Hill.
- Puzzanghera, Jim (November 10, 2010). "Palin drawn into House Financial Services Committee chairmanship fight". L.A. Times.
- Strong, Jonathan (November 9, 2010). "Palin pushes back at Bachus, cites his ‘bigger government agenda’". The Daily Caller.
- Schroeder, Peter (December 13, 2010). "Rep. Bachus tells local paper that Washington should 'serve' banks". The Hill.
- Orndorff, Mary (December 9, 2010). "Spencer Bachus finally gets his chairmanship". Birmingham News.
- "Election Statistics". Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Retrieved January 10, 2008.
- U.S. Congressman Spencer Bachus official U.S. House site
- Spencer Bachus for U.S. Congress official campaign site
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Biography at Ballotpedia
- Biography, voting record, and interest group ratings at Project Vote Smart
- Congressional profile at GovTrack
- Congressional profile at Roll Call
- Congressional profile at OpenCongress
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Financial information (federal office) at OpenSecrets.org
- Staff salaries, trips and personal finance (federal office) at LegiStorm.com
- Issue positions and quotes at On the Issues
- Voting record at The Washington Post
- Appearances on C-SPAN programs
- Collected news and commentary at The Washington Post
- Profile at SourceWatch
- Collected news and commentary from Politico
- Spencer Bachus On Rethinking Regulation, Brian Wingfield, Forbes, September 21, 2009
- Rep. Spencer Bachus to Politico: "Slow Down" Reform Process (video), Mike Allen, GOP.gov blog, June 15, 2010, interview about financial reform
|United States House of Representatives|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's 6th congressional district
1993 – present
|Chairman of House Financial Services Committee
|United States order of precedence|
|United States Representatives by seniority