Steve Cohen

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Steve Cohen
Stevecohen.jpeg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 9th district
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 3, 2007
Preceded by Harold Ford, Jr.
Personal details
Born Stephen Ira Cohen
(1949-05-24) May 24, 1949 (age 64)
Memphis, Tennessee
Political party Democratic
Residence Memphis, Tennessee
Alma mater Vanderbilt University (B.A.)
University of Memphis, Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law (J.D.)
Profession Attorney
Religion Jewish

Stephen Ira "Steve" Cohen (born May 24, 1949) is the U.S. Representative for Tennessee's 9th congressional district, serving since 2007. He is a member of the Democratic Party. Tennessee's 9th district includes almost three-fourths of Memphis. Cohen is Tennessee's first Jewish congressman.[1]

Early life, education, and law career[edit]

Cohen was born in Memphis, Tennessee on May 24, 1949, the son of Genevieve (née Goldsand) and pediatrician Morris David Cohen. He has two older brothers, Michael Corey and Martin D. Cohen.[2][3] He is a fourth-generation Memphian,[4] and is a grandson of Jewish immigrants from Lithuania and Poland.[5] His immigrant grandfather owned a newsstand.[6] Cohen contracted polio when he was five, and the disease caused him to shift his attention from sports to politics at an early age.[4] When Cohen was eleven, John F. Kennedy made a campaign stop in Memphis, and Cohen took a picture of Kennedy sitting on a convertible. Cohen describes Kennedy as his political hero; the picture still hangs in his office.[6] In 1961, Cohen’s family moved to Coral Gables, Florida where his father took a residency in psychiatry at the University of Miami. From 1964 to 1966, the Cohen family resided in Pasadena, California where Dr. Cohen completed a fellowship in pediatric psychiatry at the University of Southern California. Cohen, who attended Polytechnic School, returned to Florida in 1966 to graduate from Coral Gables High School before returning to Memphis where his father established his private psychiatry practice.

Cohen graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1971 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. In 1973, he graduated from the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law of Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis) with a Juris Doctor.[2] From 1978-2006, Cohen was the sole practitioner of his own law firm, practicing civil and criminal law until his election to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Early political career[edit]

While serving for three years as Legal Advisor for the Memphis Police Department, Cohen rose to political prominence when he was elected to the Tennessee Constitutional Convention of 1977 at the age of 27. The Convention elected him its vice president.[7] Cohen was then elected to serve as a commissioner on the Shelby County Commission, an office he held from 1978 to 1980.[2] During his time at the Commission, Cohen was instrumental in the creation of The Med, a community-funded regional hospital.[7] In 1980, Cohen served as an interim Shelby County General Sessions Court judge.[2] He has also served as a delegate to the 1980, 1992, 2004, and 2008 Democratic National Conventions.[2]

Tennessee Senate[edit]

Cohen was elected to the Tennessee Senate in 1982, representing District 30, which includes parts of Memphis. He held that position for 24 years.[2]

For 18 years, Cohen strove to repeal the ban on lotteries in the Tennessee State Constitution.[7] His efforts were successful in 2002, and a state lottery program designed to provide college scholarships for Tennessee students was adopted the following year.[7] The lottery program is regarded as the most well-known accomplishment of Cohen's Senate career, having raised over $2 billion for scholarships, afterschool programs, pre-K, technical center grants, and energy saving capital programs in K-12 schools as of 2012.[7] Cohen also sponsored legislation relating to expansion of community access to healthcare, the protection of animal rights, the reinstatement of voting rights, graduated driver licenses, and funding for the arts during his career.[7] He sponsored the T-Bo law, the nation's first-ever statute providing for damages up to $5000 in cases of intentional or negligent acts resulting in the death of a companion dog or cat.[8] He has won four awards from the Humane Society as of 2012.

He sponsored and passed legislation providing funding for the construction of the Autozone Park baseball stadium, creating the Holocaust Commission, and providing permanent funding for the arts with Tennesseans for the Arts license plates. He was awarded the Bill of Rights Award from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Bird Dog Award for Ethics from Tennessee Common Cause in 1992.

In March 2005, Cohen was one of three Tennessee Senators to vote against the Tennessee Marriage Protection Amendment, which Tennessee voters approved via a referendum in November 2006.[9] During the course of the debate on the amendment, Cohen offered several amendments to the amendment, all of which failed, including the proposed addition of an "adultery clause," which said "Adultery is deemed to be a threat to the institution of marriage and contrary to public policy in Tennessee."[10] Cohen won the Political Leadership Award from the Human Rights Campaign.

Cohen was widely regarded as one of the Senate's toughest and most articulate debaters, as he has an unusually straightforward and direct style when compared to other Southern politicians. One Tennessee writer described him as "very outspoken, very persistent, and a lot more cerebral than most of his colleagues."[6]

When elected in 1982, Cohen was the first Jewish member to serve in the Tennessee Senate since 1958.[6]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

Elections[edit]

1996

In 1996, Cohen ran for election to the United States House of Representatives seat for the 9th District, which came open when 22-year incumbent and fellow Democrat Harold Ford, Sr. announced his retirement. The then 26-year-old Harold Ford, Jr., the incumbent's son, was his opponent in the Democratic primary.[6] Reflecting on the race, Cohen said, "I'd spent fourteen years in the [state] Senate, had the experience, and didn't like the idea of [the seat] being handed down like an heirloom."[6]

Cohen lost the primary to Ford by 25 points.[7] Noting that Ford, an African-American, did much better than Cohen in majority black precincts despite Ford's inexperience, Cohen said, "It is impossible for a person who is not African American to get a large vote in the African American community . . . against a substantial candidate. The fact is, I am white, and it doesn't seem to matter what you do."[6] Later, Cohen admitted that his statement was "impolitic" but also noted that "race is still an important factor in voting."[6]

Cohen was able to return to the State Senate after the election. Tennessee state senators serve staggered four-year terms, and Cohen did not have to run for reelection to the Senate until 1998.

2006

In early April 2006, Cohen announced that he was again running for the 9th District seat; Ford, Jr. was not running for reelection. Cohen was the first candidate in the race with significant name recognition outside the Memphis area but had fourteen opponents in the primary.[7] The Commercial Appeal, Memphis' daily newspaper, endorsed Cohen in the race.[11] The crowded nature of the primary was largely due to the district's demographics. The 9th is a heavily Democratic, black-majority district, and it was considered very likely that whoever won the Democratic primary would be the district's next congressman.

Cohen won the August 3 primary by a decisive 4,000-vote margin despite being outspent 2 to 1 by the runner-up in the primary. In fact, six Democrats raised more money than he did.[12] He carried many of the district's predominantly black precincts by healthy margins. He faced Republican Mark White and independent Jake Ford (the younger brother of Harold Ford, Jr.) in the general election in November.[13]

Though the Ninth District is heavily Democratic, Jake Ford was seen as a serious contender for the race because of his significant name recognition among Memphis' black voters.[6] Jake Ford had skipped the Democratic primary because he felt it was too crowded, but stated he would caucus with the Democrats if elected. The Ford family has been a significant force in Memphis' black community since the days of E.H. Crump. Indeed, it seemed that the real race was between Cohen and Jake Ford. White was not a serious factor, and would have faced nearly impossible odds even in a two-way race with Cohen.

Cohen was endorsed by the mayor of Memphis, W. W. Herenton, and the mayor of Shelby County, A.C. Wharton, both of whom are black and members of the Democratic Party.[14] He was also endorsed by many local Democratic activists who had long felt Harold Ford, Jr. was too moderate.

However, many of the city's politically influential black pastors refused to support Cohen, and the area Black Ministers Association overwhelmingly voted to endorse Jake Ford. The Ford family itself was split. While Harold Ford, Jr. himself remained neutral (despite rumors of collusion between the two brothers' campaigns), their cousin Joe Ford, Jr., an entertainment lawyer, strongly endorsed Cohen after finishing third in the primary. However, Harold Ford, Sr. strongly supported his younger son.[15]

On October 8, 2006, Cohen, Ford, and White participated in a televised debate in Memphis. Among other topics, issues discussed included Iraq, medical marijuana, education, and the Tennessee Marriage Protection Amendment.[16] Ford attacked Cohen's record in the State Senate, including his opposition to the Marriage Protection Amendment, support for medical marijuana, and his voting attendance record.[16] Cohen responded by standing by his public record, pointing out Ford's lack of experience in public office, and indicating that Ford had been to jail and had dropped out of high school.[16]

Cohen won the election by a decisive margin, winning 60% of the vote to Ford's 22% and White's 18%.[17] Sixty percent of the votes received by Cohen were from African-American voters.

2008

Despite Cohen's strong performance in the black community, many of the city's politically active blacks felt chagrined at being represented by him. Besides some sentiment that the 9th should be represented by a black Democrat, his socially liberal views (see below) also gave them pause. For example, Cohen's support for a hate-crimes bill drew particularly strong opposition from most of the city's black ministers because it included a sexual orientation provision. Cohen contends that every member of the Congressional Black Caucus voted for the bill, and Harold Ford, Jr. had voted for it in the previous Congress. Still, many of the city's black ministers tried to rally behind a consensus black candidate to challenge Cohen in the Democratic primary.[18]

Cohen faced four challengers in the August 7, 2008 Democratic primary for the 9th District. His major opponent was Nikki Tinker, a lawyer who had finished second to Cohen in the 2006 primary[19] and had formerly been an aide to Harold Ford, Jr.[20] Tinker received the endorsement of the city's Black Ministerial Association.

At a June 2008 campaign event, then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi referred to Cohen as "the conscience of the freshman class", adding “He is a progressive and an important member of the Transportation Committee, which provides the infrastructure for jobs that will make America more competitive in the global economy.” [21]

The campaign quickly turned ugly, with Tinker putting together a raft of negative ads. One attacked Cohen for voting against a proposal that would have removed a statue and the remains of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate lieutenant-general who was involved in the founding of the Ku Klux Klan,[22] from the Medical Center park. The ad falsely implied that Cohen had ties to the Klan by juxtaposing Cohen with a white-clad Klansman.[23] Another ad accused Cohen of "praying in our churches" [24] while voting against school prayer during his tenure in the State Senate. Tinker's campaign later removed the ads from its YouTube account amid criticism from a number of sources.

On the day the Primary was held, Barack Obama denounced Tinker's ads, saying they "have no place in our politics, and will do nothing to help the good people of Tennessee." Harold Ford, Jr. also denounced the ads.[25]

The primary had been marred by racial tensions for months prior to the August vote. In February 2008, Rev. George Brooks, a Tinker supporter, distributed literature in the district which stated that "Cohen and the Jews HATE Jesus" and urged the defeat of an "opponent of Christ and Christianity." Another minister, Rev. Robert Poindexter of Mt. Moriah Baptist Church, said that he was supporting Tinker because Cohen "(is) not black, and he can't represent me, that's just the bottom line." [26]

Ultimately, Cohen won the primary in a rout, taking 79 percent of the vote to Tinker's 19 percent. In his victory speech, Cohen said his victory proved "Memphis has come a long, long way" from its racially divisive past.[25] Cohen's primary win virtually assured him of a second term; no Republican even filed, and any Republican challenger would have faced nearly impossible odds in any case. He was reelected with 87.9 percent of the vote against three independent challengers, one of whom was Jake Ford (who won 4.8 percent of the vote).

Cohen endorsed Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary on February 4, 2008, the day before the Super Tuesday primaries.[27] On September 10, 2008 while speaking on the floor of the House, Cohen compared Obama's work as a community organizer to Jesus' work.[28]

2010

Former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton announced that he would challenge Cohen in the 2010 Democratic primary for the seat. In a guest column in the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Herenton wrote that while he hoped the campaign would focus on issues rather than race or religion, that "it remains a fact that the 9th Congressional District provides the only real opportunity to elect a qualified African-American to the all-white 11-member delegation representing Tennessee in Washington." Herenton also denied having supported Cohen in his 2006 bid against Jake Ford, writing "I did not support Steve Cohen the individual for the 9th Congressional District. I supported an idea that was bigger than him as an individual. I supported the principle of fairness."[29] During the 2006 campaign, Herenton endorsed Cohen, saying "Steve Cohen is the best-qualified candidate for this leadership role".[30] While Cohen's commanding win in the 2008 primary suggested that he has won strong support among the district's African-American community, Herenton was easily his highest-profile opponent to date.

In September 2009, Herenton drew controversy when he stated in a radio interview that Cohen "really does not think very much of African-Americans" and that "[Cohen]’s played the black community well.” In addition, Herenton's campaign manager Sidney Chism told the New York Times that the Memphis-area congressional seat Cohen holds "was set aside for people who look like me. It wasn't set aside for a Jew or a Christian. It was set aside so that blacks could have representation." The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) criticized Herenton for these remarks, stating that he comments were "unacceptable in a Democratic primary or anywhere in our political discourse."[31][32]

President Obama endorsed Congressman Cohen for re-election, saying “Congressman Cohen is a proven leader in the United States Congress and a strong voice for Tennessee. Together, we passed historic health care reform and together we’re continuing the fight to renew our economy and bring jobs back to the American people. I am proud to stand with Steve and support his re-election to Congress."

In the unofficial election results, Steve Cohen won 79% of the vote to Herenton's 21%. The vote marked the first time Herenton, 70, elected to a record five terms as mayor, lost a race for public office.[33] This all but assured Cohen of a third term. In the general election, Cohen easily dispatched Republican challenger Charlotte Bergmann, taking 74 percent of the vote to Bergmann's 25 percent.

2012

Cohen was challenged in the Democratic Primary by Tomeka Hart, a female African-American member of the Memphis School Board and Memphis Urban League President who was undefeated in elections up to that point. Cohen won the Democratic Primary with 89.2% of the vote on August 2, 2012[34]—the highest vote total in the district in recent history and the highest percentage vote for a white candidate running for office in a majority African-American district in history.

President Obama endorsed Cohen on April 5, 2012, saying “Congressman Steve Cohen has worked with me on jobs bills, health care, and other issues of importance to the middle class. He also never fails to pitch me on the city of Memphis, whether it’s Booker T. Washington High School, Memphis basketball, or barbeque. I urge you to vote for Steve Cohen, a tireless advocate for the 9th District".[35] In the general election, Cohen trounced Republican businessman George Flinn with 75 percent of the vote.

Tenure[edit]

Cohen is the first Jew to represent Tennessee in Congress, as well as the first white Democrat to represent a significant portion of Memphis since freshman George Grider was defeated by Republican Dan Kuykendall in 1966, and the first Jew to represent a majority black district,[6] as well as one of the few white congressmen that has represented a black-majority district. Before being elected, Cohen told reporters that he would seek to become the first white member of the Congressional Black Caucus, but later decided against joining after members of the CBC (influenced by co-founder Bill Clay) indicated that they would not allow a non-black to join.[6]

Budget

Cohen voted against prioritizing spending in the event of the debt limit being reached.[36] He voted to create an 825 Billion dollar economic recovery package as well as an additional 192 Billion dollar anti-recession stimulus in 2009.[36] He has supported additional stimulus packages and bailouts, such as the GM and Chrysler bailout.[36]

Cohen supports raising Senator salaries.[36] He also supports extending unemployment benefits from 39 weeks to 59 weeks.[36] He opposes any move to privatize social security.[36]

Gun Control

Cohen supports a ban on the gun show loophole and on 'fire sales' of firearms. However he does support citizen's rights to bear concealed firearms.[36] He supports educating children on gun safety through a school program.[36]

Energy

To expand funds available for research and development of alternative energy sources, Cohen supports an excess profits tax on oil companies.[37] He supports investments into solar, wind, and hybrid cars.[36] He supports offering tax credits and incentives to companies that adopt renewable and clean energy methods.[36] He supports the regulation of oil and gas prices and seeks to criminalize oil cartels like OPEC.[36] He opposes off-shore drilling and seeks to revoke tax incentives for exploration of oil and gas.[36]

Environment

Cohen is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. He supports environmental conservation.[38] He opposed a resolution that would bar the EPA from regulating emissions, and opposes allowing off-shore drilling.[36] In addition he supports the expansion of public transportation and train lines.[36]

He believes there are several more animal species that should be classified as endangered and thus receive protection. He believes outdoor classroom experiences should be expanded through massive federal funding.[36]

Healthcare

Cohen believes adequate healthcare is a basic right and has opposed any cuts to healthcare funding.[36] He has voted several times to extend healthcare coverage through federal funding.[36]

On May 10, 2012, at a House subcommittee hearing on asbestos trust transparency legislation, Cohen described plaintiff's attorneys who contacted him about the illness of his friend, Warren Zevon as "parasites." He said that Warren Zevon—who died from asbestos related cancer—did not seek a lawyer and did not want damages. In spite of Cohen's feelings against those plaintiff's attorneys, he spoke against the bill.[39][40]

Cohen has said that he believes that adequate health care is a "fundamental right" of all citizens.[41] Cohen supports gender equality, progressive taxation, medicinal use of marijuana, decriminalization of Marijuana, gun rights and capital punishment. Cohen was the headline speaker at the Marijuana Policy Project's January 2010 annual gala in Washington.[42]

Government Reform

He supports limiting campaign donations and disclosure of amounts coming from lobbyists.[36]

During his first month in Congress, Cohen supported the "100-Hour Plan" in the House, which included raising the federal minimum wage, requiring the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower Medicare prescription drug prices, and reducing interest rates for student borrowers. Cohen also cosponsored House Concurrent Resolution 23, which "[expresses] the sense of Congress that the President should not order an escalation in the total number of members of the United States Armed Forces serving in Iraq."[43]

On February 27, 2007, Cohen introduced a resolution in the House that apologizes for African-American slavery and the system of Jim Crow laws that persisted for 100 years after the abolition of slavery. Cohen noted that no president has officially apologized for allowing slavery. The bill had 36 cosponsors.[44] The resolution passed on July 29, 2008, marking the first time a branch of the federal government had officially apologized for the institution of slavery and its aftermath.[45] Cohen was honored with the D. Emelio Castelar Work Recognition Award by the Vida Foundation in Madrid, Spain for his work on the slavery apology bill and served as the keynote speaker for their international symposium on the abolition of slavery and the slave trade.[46]

Civil Rights

Cohen received the American Bar Association's Day Award along with Congressman John Lewis (GA-5), Senator Olympia Snowe (ME) and Senator Richard Lugar (IN). Cohen was recognized by the ABA for his efforts to improve access to the justice system by providing more funding for the Legal Services Corporation, which provides legal counsel for low income individuals and families. Cohen dedicated the award to Dr. Benjamin Hooks and Dr. Dorothy Height during his acceptance speech.[47]

Cohen sponsored the SPEECH Act banning the practice of libel tourism, rendering libel lawsuits unenforceable if the judgments were issued in a nation where the legal standard for libel is set lower than our own. The Senate Sponsor was Senator Patrick Leahy. The bill passed both houses of Congress in July 2010 and was signed into law by President Barack Obama the following month.[48]

Abortion

Cohen supports legal abortion.[49] He opposes the repeal of federally funded abortions and supports a focus on preventing pregnancies with the availability of emergency contraceptives if needed.[36]

Iraq War

He opposed Republican policy regarding the War in Iraq.[50]

Cohen made a trip to Iraq from October 4, 2007 to October 7, 2007 as part of a congressional fact-finding delegation. Cohen noted that his impression was that the country was "not in very good shape" and that its economy has been "ravaged." Cohen met with soldiers who complained that long deployments are causing divorces. When Cohen raised this concern with General David Petraeus, Petraeus told Cohen that the claims were being exaggerated. After meeting with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Cohen described him as "overly optimistic," noting his "bizarre" statement that sectarian war in Iraq is over.[51]

Afghanistan Infrastructure

In 2012, Cohen sponsored the Cohen Amendment reducing infrastructure funding to Afghanistan. The Afghan Infrastructure Fund has been plagued with problems, with millions of taxpayer dollars disappearing. When another member of the House said the funding was essential to bringing our troops home, Cohen replied “The truth of the matter is that it has nothing to do with whether we can bring our troops home or not. The truth is that we cannot account for where this money is going, and it is likely going into the pockets of the top one-half of one percent in Afghanistan. The infrastructure holds up well enough there to deploy and redeploy our troops, so it’s good enough to bring them home permanently.” The Amendment passed 228-191 and is the first piece of legislation reducing funding to Afghanistan.[52]

National Guard & Reservist Debt Relief Extension Act

Cohen sponsored and co-authored, along with Congressman J. Randy Forbes (R-VA-4), Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA-46), Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-9), and Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-8) The National Guard & Reservist Debt Relief Extension Act, which allows qualifying members of the National Guard and reservists to bypass the often onerous means testing required under current bankruptcy law if their financial hardships were caused by deployment. The bill was signed into law by President Barack Obama in December 2011.[53]

Judicial Recommendations

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi assigned Cohen to serve on the House Judiciary Committee, which was Cohen's first choice for a committee assignment, as well as the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.[54]

As there are no Democratic U.S. Senators from Tennessee, President Barack Obama asked Cohen to recommend judicial nominees. Cohen recommended Judge Bernice Donald for United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, and Judge John Fowlkes for District Court Judge for the Western District of Tennessee. Both have been confirmed by the United States Senate.

U.S. Attorney

Cohen recommended Ed Stanton III to President Barack Obama as U.S. Attorney for Tennessee's Western District. Stanton was confirmed in August 2010.

Votes

Steve Cohen has sponsored 16 bills since Jan 4, 2007, of which 13 haven't made it out of committee and 2 were successfully enacted. Cohen has co-sponsored 762 bills during the same time period.[55]

Main Street to Main Street Multi-Modal Connector Project

Cohen announced in 2012 that Memphis is to be awarded a $15 million TIGER IV Grant for the Main Street to Main Street Multi-Modal Connector Project. The project will add a dedicated sidewalk to the Harahan Bridge connecting Tennessee to Arkansas, allowing people to walk, run, or bicycle over the Mississippi River. The project has drawn praise from many in the business community, including FedEx founder Fred Smith.[56]

Helsinki Commission

Cohen was appointed to the Helsinki Commission by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi in 2011. “Congressman Steve Cohen is a leader in promoting civil rights and opportunity of all Americans, and he brings this same passion to the promotion of human rights and democracy around the world,” Pelosi said. "The Helsinki Commission is a focal point for security and cooperation among nations and leaders, and Congressman Cohen’s voice is sure to strengthen and advance the commission’s work.”[57]

Armenian issues

Although his family has no knowledge of any Turkish heritage, Cohen's mother's birth certificate states his maternal grandfather was born in Turkey when it was part of the Ottoman Empire.He is a member of the Congressional Caucus on US Turkish Relations and Turkish Americans.[58] He has consistently opposed Congressional recognition of the Armenian Genocide on pragmatic grounds, believing that recognizing it officially in Congress would damage relations with Turkey.[59]

On August 6, 2008, one day before the August 7, 2008 Democratic Congressional Primary, a confrontation between California-based documentary filmmaker Peter Musurlian and Cohen erupted. During a press conference at Cohen's home, Musurlian was asked to leave by Cohen's staff and Cohen himself. Cohen then put both hands on Musurlian's arms and forced him out of the home after Musurlian refused to leave.[60][61]

2011 Nazi controversy

In a speech on the House floor on January 18, 2011, Cohen said of the Republican effort to repeal the Obama administration's health care reform law:

They say it's a government takeover of health care, a big lie just like Goebbels. You say it enough, you repeat the lie, you repeat the lie, you repeat the lie and eventually, people believe it. Like blood libel. That's the same kind of thing. The Germans said enough about the Jews and the people believed it and you had the Holocaust. You tell a lie over and over again. And we've heard on this floor, government takeover of health care.[62]

According to Cohen's hometown paper, the Memphis Commercial Appeal, he was "accused of upsetting the newfound atmosphere of civility in the House" following the assassination attempt on Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.[63] Republicans,[64] as well as many in the media and in the Jewish community, expressed outrage and demanded that Democrats condemn Cohen's comment. Ron Kampeas of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency wrote that "someone needs to carpet Cohen, pronto, for his rhetoric."[65] His remarks were also condemned by the National Jewish Democratic Council, which issued a statement saying that "invoking the Holocaust to make a political point is never acceptable—on either side of the aisle. Cohen’s comments and similar comments made by others are not helpful as our leaders and citizens conduct a joint effort to advance civility in our political discourse. We implore Cohen and all our leaders to choose their words carefully as we move forward."[65]

In response to the controversy, Cohen said "I said Goebbels lied about the Jews, and that led to the Holocaust. Not in any way whatsoever was I comparing Republicans to Nazis. I was saying lies are wrong."[64]

Cohen later expressed regret for his remarks:

I would certainly never do anything to diminish the horror of the Nazi Holocaust as I revere and respect the history of my people. I sponsored legislation which created one of the first state Holocaust Commissions in America and actively served as a Commission member for over 20 years. I regret that anyone in the Jewish Community, my Republican colleagues or anyone else was offended by the portrayal of my comments. My comments were not directed toward any group or people but at the false message and, specifically, the method by which is has been delivered.[65]

Media[edit]

Cohen has been interviewed on The Colbert Report and is a frequent guest on MSNBC's Up with Chris Hayes and Current TV's The Young Turks. He has also appeared on Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura in which he was confronted by Ventura for co-sponsoring H.R. 645 which directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish national emergency centers, otherwise known as FEMA camp facilities, on military installations.

Cohen became the subject of media attention when during the 2013 State of the Union address he accidentally publicly tweeted at model Victoria Brink, “pleased u r watching. ilu,” and then deleted the tweet.[66] He later explained to reporters that Brink was his daughter and that he had only learned of her three years prior. In July 2013, CNN facilitated a DNA test with Cohen, Brink, and the man who raised her, John Brink. The test revealed that John Brink was in fact the father of Victoria. Cohen said in a statement "I was stunned and dismayed."[67]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus memberships[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cohen beats back Memphis challenge Jewish Telegraph Agency - August 8, 2008
  2. ^ a b c d e f Project Vote Smart biography
  3. ^ Fiery Cohen builds loyal support base, by Halimah Abdullah, The Commercial Appeal, October 19, 2006
  4. ^ a b Cohen's campaign website biography
  5. ^ http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~battle/reps/cohen.htm
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Yo Vey! (subscribers only), Jonathan Martin, The New Republic, September 25, 2006.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h "Elder Statesmen", Jackson Baker, Memphis Flyer, June 14, 2006.
  8. ^ , Animal Defense Fund
  9. ^ Senate OKs gay marriage ban, Skip Cauthorn, The City Paper, March 1, 2005.
  10. ^ Marriage Act sponsor facing divorce, Skip Cauthorn, The City Paper, April 15, 2005.
  11. ^ From the editorial board: Our recommendations in August 3 races, The Commercial Appeal, July 28, 2006.
  12. ^ Tennessee Congressional Races in 2008
  13. ^ Steve Cohen wins; will face Jake Ford, Mark White in November, Halimah Abdullah, The Commercial Appeal, August 3, 2006.
  14. ^ Mayors endorse Cohen, Halimah Abdullah and Lawrence Buser, The Commercial Appeal, September 7, 2006.
  15. ^ "Campaign 2006: Politics Are a Family Matter in Tennessee". Time. September 25, 2006. Retrieved May 24, 2010. 
  16. ^ a b c 9th District rivals spar over war, pot, politics, by Alex Doniach, The Commercial Appeal, October 9, 2006
  17. ^ "CNN.com - Elections 2006". CNN. Retrieved May 24, 2010. 
  18. ^ In Memphis, Debate Over a White Representative. All Things Considered, September 28, 2007
  19. ^ Ford, Glen. When NOT to vote black (at least in Memphis). Black Agenda Report, 2007-12-05
  20. ^ O' Brien, Michael. Cohen defeats Tinker in Tennessee primary The Hill, August 7, 2008.
  21. ^ , Cohen For Congress
  22. ^ Nossiter, Adam (August 7, 2008). "Race Takes Central Role in a Memphis Primary". The New York Times. 
  23. ^ Tinker lowers bar in the 9th. Editorial, The Commercial Appeal, August 5, 2008.
  24. ^ Kraushaar, Josh. Obama forced to deal with Tenn. primary. The Politico, August 7, 2008.
  25. ^ a b Incumbent Cohen holds off Tinker in overwhelming 9th District win, Zack McMillin and Cindy Wolff, The Commercial Appeal, August 7, 2008
  26. ^ Race-baiting in the 9th Commercial Appeal, Wednesday, February 13, 2008
  27. ^ Rep. Cohen Endorses Obama; So Does Local Democratic Chairman, Jackson Baker, The Memphis Flyer, February 4, 2008
  28. ^ Cohen: Jesus was a community organizer
  29. ^ "Guest column: Mayor hears higher calling to national stage". The Commercial Appeal. Retrieved July 12, 2010. 
  30. ^ Sullivan, Bartholomew. "Cohen on Herenton's commentary: Mayor's opinions outdated". The Commercial Appeal. Retrieved July 12, 2010. 
  31. ^ Ex-Mayor of Memphis Starts Bid for Congress, Invoking Race in Campaign by Robbie Brown, New York Times, September 13, 2009.
  32. ^ NJDC defends Cohen, Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), September 18, 2009.
  33. ^ Steve Cohen's landslide 9th District win ends Willie Herenton's run, by Kristina Goetz, Commercial Appeal, Memphis, August 5, 2010
  34. ^ Cohen, Flinn to meet for Memphis' Congressional seat, Commercial Appeal, Memphis, August 3, 2012
  35. ^ Obama endorses Cohen in 9th District race; Hart makes primary challenge official, Commercial Appeal, Memphis, April 5, 2012
  36. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s "Steve Cohen (Democrat, district 9)". On the Issues. 
  37. ^ Cohen campaign website, Issues-Energy
  38. ^ Cohen campaign website, Issues-Environment
  39. ^ John O'Brien (May 11, 2012). "Dem. Congressman calls attorneys who contacted him 'parasites'". Legal Newsline (LNL). Retrieved May 18, 2012. 
  40. ^ Dem Congressman Describes Asbestos Lawyers as Parasites. Institute for Legal Reform. Retrieved May 18, 2012. 
  41. ^ Cohen campaign website, Issues-Health Care
  42. ^ Rep. Cohen a hit at Marijuana Policy Project gala dinner, by Ben Evans, Associated Press, January 14, 2010
  43. ^ Thomas search via The Library of Congress
  44. ^ Bartholomew Sullivan (February 28, 2007). "Cohen calls for slavery apology". Commercial Appeal. Archived from the original on March 18, 2007. Retrieved February 28, 2007. 
  45. ^ House apologizes for slavery, 'Jim Crow' injustices, CNN, July 29, 2008.
  46. ^ Congressman Steve Cohen to be Honored by The Vida Foundation, Cohen for Congress, November 15, 2008
  47. ^ , Cohen House Site
  48. ^ , Cohen for Congress
  49. ^ Cohen campaign website, Issues-Women's Issues
  50. ^ Cohen campaign website, Issues-Iraq
  51. ^ Bartholomew Sullivan (October 8, 2007). "Cohen, Wicker back from Iraq". Commercial Appeal. Retrieved October 8, 2007. 
  52. ^ , Cohen House web site
  53. ^ , Cohen for Congress
  54. ^ Cohen named to Judiciary panel, by Bartholomew Sullivan, The Commercial Appeal, December 13, 2006. Retrieved December 18, 2006.
  55. ^ Govtrack.us Members of Congress - Steve Cohen, Govtrack.us. retrieved on October 10, 2008
  56. ^ , Downtown Memphis Commission
  57. ^ , Cohen For Congress
  58. ^ "Turkish Coalition Of America". Turkishcoalition.org. Retrieved July 12, 2010. 
  59. ^ House Speaker Now Unsure if Armenian Genocide Motion Will Reach a Vote, Carl Hulse, New York Times, October 18, 2007
  60. ^ Cohen asks photographer to leave his home, then pushes him out, by Zack McMillin, The Commercial Appeal, August 7, 2008.
  61. ^ "APA - U.S. Congressman expels Armenian journalist from the hall for asking about so-called genocide". En.apa.az. Retrieved July 12, 2010. 
  62. ^ Wing, Nick (2011-01-19) Democratic Congressman Compares Republicans To Nazis On House Floor (VIDEO), Huffington Post
  63. ^ Sullivan, Bartholomew (January 19, 2011) Goodbye civility as Rep. Steve Cohen says Republicans lie like the Nazis, Memphis Commercial Appeal
  64. ^ a b Sargent, Greg (January 19, 2011) Dem Rep: No apology for saying GOP mendacity is worthy of Goebbels, Washington Post
  65. ^ a b c Kampeas, Ron (January 19, 2011) Doesn’t Steve Cohen read JTA?, JTA
  66. ^ Sullivan, Bartholomew. "Memphis Congressman Cohen tweets Texas co-ed: 'ilu'". Memphis Commercial Appeal. Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  67. ^ Marquez, Miguel. "'New Day' Exclusive: CNN DNA test proves congressman not model's father". CNN. Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  68. ^ "Committees". cohen.house.gov. Retrieved August 18, 2011. 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Harold Ford, Jr.
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Tennessee's 9th congressional district

January 3, 2007 – present
Incumbent
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Yvette Clarke
D-New York
United States Representatives by seniority
210th
Succeeded by
Joe Courtney
D-Connecticut