Thomas M. Reynolds

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Tom Reynolds
Thomas Reynolds.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 26th district
In office
January 3, 1999 – January 3, 2009
Preceded by Bill Paxon
Succeeded by Chris J. Lee
Member of the New York State Assembly
from the 147th district
In office
1989–1998
Preceded by Bill Paxon
Succeeded by Daniel J. Burling
Personal details
Born (1950-09-03) September 3, 1950 (age 63)
Bellefonte, Pennsylvania
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Donna Reynolds
Residence Clarence, New York
Occupation political assistant
Religion Presbyterian
Military service
Service/branch United States Air National Guard
Years of service 1970-1976
Unit New York

Thomas M. Reynolds (born September 3, 1950), commonly known as Tom Reynolds, is a politician from the U.S. state of New York, formerly representing the state's 27th and 26th Congressional district in the United States House of Representatives. Reynolds was chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, the official Republican House campaign organization, for the 2006 election cycle. He retired at the end of the 110th Congress.[1] Chris J. Lee was elected to replace him.

Early life[edit]

Reynolds was born in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania and graduated from the Springville-Griffith Institute. He served in the New York Air National Guard from 1970 to 1976,[2] and was elected to the Concord, New York town board in 1974. Reynolds was elected to the Erie County legislature in 1982. He was elected to the New York Assembly as a Republican from Erie County in 1988.

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

1998 election[edit]

Reynolds ran for the House in 1998 after Bill Paxon was forced out of his leadership role in the House Republican leadership ranks because of his role in a coup attempt against Newt Gingrich. Paxon endorsed Reynolds, who had managed several of his past campaigns, as his successor. There was controversy because Reynolds did not live in Paxon's district, his Springville home being in the neighboring district of fellow Republican Jack Quinn who was running for his own reelection. Reynolds would not move into the district until eight months after the election when he purchased a home in Clarence — near Amherst, one of the larger towns in the seven-county district.

Committee Assignments[edit]

Political positions[edit]

Reynolds had a "conservative" voting record in Congress. His 83 percent rating from the American Conservative Union tied him with Peter T. King of Long Island as the third most conservative among the state's 29 Representatives as of the 110th Congress. Only Representatives Randy Kuhl (92%) and Vito Fossella (84%) received higher ratings.[3] Reynolds is on record as a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).[citation needed]

Re-elections[edit]

In the 2000 round of redistricting, a special master proposed a plan that would have made his district slightly more Democratic. Although Republicans would have still held a plurality, this proposed plan would have left Reynolds vulnerable to a primary with a moderate Republican. According to one political strategist, Reynolds and his allies in Washington wanted a district that would let him vote "like a Southern conservative." With the help of Vice President Dick Cheney, Reynolds pressured the state legislature to redraw his district so that it closely resembled his former territory.[4]

He was handily reelected from this reconfigured district in 2002. In 2004, his opponent was millionaire industrialist Jack Davis. Reynolds won by 12 points, an unusually close margin given that he had won with 72 percent of the vote two years earlier. In 2006 Reynolds again defeated Davis by 4% of the vote amid the Mark Foley page scandal.

Retirement[edit]

On March 20, 2008 Reynolds announced he would not run for a sixth term, saying "it was time to take up new challenges." In addition to the fallout from the Mark Foley scandal (see below), another factor was thought to be revelations that the former NRCC treasurer had embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from the committee treasury while Reynolds chaired it.[5] According to New York Daily News political reporter Elizabeth Benjamin, the NRCC was never independently audited during Reynolds' three-year tenure as its chairman.[6]

Reynolds was the 29th Republican incumbent to announce he would not run again in 2008. Despite the perception (see above) that Reynolds had the district redrawn to protect him, it is actually a somewhat marginal district on paper; it has a Cook Partisan Voting Index of R+3.

NRCC[edit]

Reynolds served as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee from 2003 to 2006. While he oversaw a three-seat Republican gain in the 2004 elections, he also oversaw the 29-seat loss that allowed the Democrats to regain control of the House.

Reynolds' rise to power in Congress was odd, given the fact that he oversaw the decimation of the Assembly Republican Conference while he was Minority Leader there. Republicans lost numerous seats under his watch. It is amazing that despite this abject failure, he rose to head the NRCC in Congress (and then oversaw historic losses there).

2006 House page scandal[edit]

Rodney Alexander (R-Louisiana), the sponsor of a House page (from his district) who received e-mails from Representative Mark Foley, told reporters that he learned of the e-mails from the page's family in November, 2005. Alexander said the family did not want the matter pursued. Alexander also said he passed information that Foley had appeared overly friendly first to Majority Leader John Boehner, and later to Reynolds, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.[7] Carl Forti, a spokesman for the GOP campaign organization, said Reynolds also was told by Alexander that the parents did not want to pursue the matter and that they did not want a large-scale investigation.

Reynolds later issued a statement that he had spoken with House Speaker Dennis Hastert about the matter early in 2006. According to the Washington Post, "Republican insiders said Reynolds spoke out because he was angry that Hastert appeared willing to let him take the blame for the party leadership's silence."[8] Hastert did not "explicitly recall" that conversation but said he did not dispute it.[9]

On October 2, Reynolds held a press conference[10] on the matter, from Buffalo at Daemen College while surrounded by numerous children of his adult supporters. He said he took the Foley matter to his "supervisor" as soon as he found out about it. Reynolds claimed that he had no knowledge of any sexual conversations or e-mails between Foley and the page until after it was disclosed in the media.[11] Soon afterwards, he came out with a television campaign advertisement claiming that he had no knowledge of the depth of Foley's transgressions until afterwards.

In December, 2006, Reynolds was largely exonerated by the Republican-controlled House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, which probed the Foley case. The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported in its December 9 edition that "Rep. Tom Reynolds told the truth when he said he told House Speaker Dennis Hastert about ex-Rep. Mark Foley's questionable e-mails to congressional pages, the House ethics committee has concluded," while the Associated Press reported "the House ethics committee on Friday cleared Rep. Thomas Reynolds and his ex-chief of staff Kirk Fordham of wrongdoing in the congressional page scandal."

On page 76 of its report, the committee reported they had uncovered the fact that "the communications directors for both the House Democratic Caucus and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee also had copies of the e-mails in the fall of 2005," months prior to Reynolds' knowledge of the incident. During the 2006 campaign, Republicans charged that Democrats had prior knowledge of Foley's inappropriate e-mails with a House page. Democrats, including DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel, vehemently denied the accusation.[citation needed]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

New York Assembly
Preceded by
Bill Paxon
New York State Assembly, 147th District
1989–1998
Succeeded by
Daniel Burling
Political offices
Preceded by
Clarence D. Rappleyea
Minority Leader of the New York State Assembly
1995–1998
Succeeded by
John Faso
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Bill Paxon
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 27th congressional district

1999–2003
Succeeded by
Jack Quinn
Preceded by
Maurice Hinchey
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 26th congressional district

2003–2009
Succeeded by
Chris J. Lee
Party political offices
Preceded by
Thomas M. Davis
Virginia
Chairman of National Republican Congressional Committee
2003–2007
Succeeded by
Tom Cole
Oklahoma