Todd Rokita

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Todd Rokita
Todd Rokita, Official Portrait, 112th Congress.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 4th district
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 3, 2011
Preceded by Steve Buyer
59th Secretary of State of Indiana
In office
December 1, 2002 – December 1, 2010
Governor Frank O'Bannon
Joe Kernan
Mitch Daniels
Preceded by Sue Anne Gilroy
Succeeded by Charlie White
Personal details
Born Theodore E. Rokita
(1970-02-09) February 9, 1970 (age 44)
Chicago, Illinois
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Kathy Rokita
Children Teddy Rokita, Ryan Rokita
Residence Indianapolis, Indiana
Alma mater Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law,
Wabash College
Profession Lawyer
Religion Roman Catholic
Website http://rokita.house.gov/

Theodore Edward "Todd" Rokita (born February 9, 1970) is an American politician who has been a member of the United States House of Representatives from Indiana's 4th congressional district since 2011. Rokita, a member of the Republican Party, previously served two terms as Secretary of State of Indiana from 2002 to 2010. When Rokita was elected to office in 2002 at the age of 32, he became at the time the youngest secretary of state in the United States.

Early life, education and career[edit]

Rokita grew up in Munster, located in Lake County in Northwest Indiana. Rolita attended Munster High School.[1] He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana, where he was an Eli Lilly Fellow. He is a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity.[2] He has a law degree from Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law.[3]

Rokita was a practicing attorney. In 1997 he joined the secretary of state's office as general counsel. He later became deputy secretary of state.[4]

Indiana Secretary of State[edit]

Rokita was elected by his peers nationally to serve on the nine-member federal executive board of the Election Assistance Commission.[4] The commission is charged by law to address election reform issues on a nation-wide basis. Rokita has testified about Indiana's voting reform efforts before the United States Congress.

Rokita was a named defendant in the Hoosier State's voter identification case went before the U.S. Supreme Court on January 9, 2008; the combined cases of Crawford v. Marion County Election Board (07-21) and Indiana Democratic Party v. Rokita (07-25) involved the Indiana voting requirement laws that require voters display state-issued photo IDs before voting. In April 2008, the US Supreme Court upheld that law. Rokita also served as Indiana's chief securities fraud investigator.

As secretary of state, Rokita visited each of Indiana's ninety-two counties at least once per year. Rokita was named as one of the "40 under 40" by the Indianapolis Business Journal.[when?] Rokita was active in the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS), and after serving as the elected treasurer, he became the President for the 2007-2008 term.[5]

In September 2009, Rokita outlined a plan to reform how Indiana's legislative districts are drawn to reduce gerrymandering. He proposed making it a felony for lawmakers to use political data or incumbents' addresses when drawing electoral maps. Indiana's congressional districts and districts for the Indiana Senate and Indiana House of Representatives will next be redrawn after the 2010 Census. Rokita says boundaries should follow existing county and township lines, and that each of the 50 senate districts should be divided into two house districts, claiming this will lead to more competitive legislative elections.[6]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

Committee assignments[edit]

Controversies[edit]

In October 2013 during the American government shutdown, Rokita was interviewed by CNN journalist Carol Costello. Her pointed questions about Rokita's defense of the shutdown that furloughed hundreds of thousands of government employees without compensation while he continued to receive his paycheck, were eventually countered with his statement that she was "beautiful but you have to be honest" and that journalists were part of the problem.[7] The Congressman's office issued a statement that he intended no offense by his comments.

In April 2007, Rokita was speaking at a Republican event, and encouraged Republicans to reach out to African-Americans. He mentioned 90 percent of African Americans vote Democratic, after which he asked, "How can that be? Ninety to ten. Who's the master and who's the slave in that relationship? How can that be healthy?"[8][9] Four days after making those remarks, he apologized.[10] Rokita also met privately with eleven members of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus to apologize for the comment. Representative Vernon Smith, D-Gary, told reporters, “He apologized to our satisfaction. We do believe he was sincere in his apology," Smith said. "I think there are greater issues — education, health, economics for the black community — that are more important than us spending all this time on a slip of the lip. I do believe that we all make mistakes (and) that if we expect to be forgiven, we need to forgive." During the course of the same private meeting Rokita was told his office should reflect the diversity of the state, at the time of his remarks 89% of the employees in Rokita's office were white. [11]

Political campaigns[edit]

2010[edit]

On February 1, 2010, three days after Congressman Steve Buyer of Indiana's 4th congressional district said that he would retire at the end of his term, Rokita posted an announcement on Facebook making clear his intentions to run for the open seat.[12]

Buyer's announcement touched off a free-for-all among area Republicans to succeed him. Ultimately, thirteen candidates entered the Republican primary, including Rokita. With a Cook Partisan Voting Index of R+14, the 4th is one of the most Republican districts in the Eastern Time Zone and tied for the second-most Republican in the state (behind the 5th District). It was taken for granted that whoever won the primary would be heavily favored to be the district's next congressman.

Rokita won the primary with 42 percent of the vote, and went on to win the general election with 68.6% of the vote.

Tenure[edit]

Agriculture

Rokita is against federal government regulation over farming. A representative of a heavy-farming district in Indiana, Rokita has voted in favor of deregulating farmer restrictions, earning him an "A" rating from the American Farm Bureau Federation.[13] He co-sponsored the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act- passing the house in March 2011- in order to prevent the "significant burden on small businesses for little obvious environmental benefit." Rokita also co-sponsored the Preserving America's Family Farms Act- which passed the House in July 2012- citing Indiana's dependence on youth work on family farms.[14]

Health Care

Rokita opposes any Health Care regulation that increases the national debt, earning a "B" rating by the National Taxpayers Union 2011 Positions on Tax and Spending.[15] He opposes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and was the key vote to repeal the health care law and health care-related provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.[16] His healthcare voting record has given him an extremely low approval ratings from care-related interest groups such as the Association of University Centers on Disabilities and the American Nurses Association.[17]

Gun Control

Rokita is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, saying "I’m proud of my 'A' rating from the NRA. If we are going to keep up our traditions and pass them on to our children, we need leaders in Congress who understand, and will fight every day, to protect our 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms."[14][18] Rokita voted in favor of a bill "Requiring State Reciprocity for Carrying Concealed Firearms" in November 2011.[19]

Legislation[edit]

On April 2, 2014, Rokita introduced the Strengthening Education through Research Act (H.R. 4366; 113th Congress).[20] The bill would amend and reauthorize the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002 and would authorize the appropriation of $615 million for fiscal year 2015 and $3.8 billion over the 2015-2019 period to support federal educational research, statistical analysis, and other activities.[21]

Personal life[edit]

Rokita is a member of the Director's Circle of the Indiana Council for Economic Education, the state bar association, the Knights of Columbus, and the National Rifle Association. A commercial-rated pilot, Rokita volunteers his time by flying people in need of non-emergency medical care to hospitals and clinics throughout the Midwest for treatment and is a member of the Indiana chapter of the International Flying Farmers. Rokita has also served as Chair of NASS's New Millennium Young Voters Summit of 2004, chair of the standing Voter Participation Committee and vice chair of the Securities Regulation Committee.[22]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Franklin, Lu Ann (17 May 2012). "Munster speech team takes top state honors for lucky 13th time". Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  2. ^ http://weblinks.sigmachi.org/preview/marketing/PAC/list.pdf
  3. ^ "ROKITA, Todd - Biographical Information". Bioguide.congress.gov. Retrieved 2013-10-21. 
  4. ^ a b "Vote In biographical profile of Todd Rokita". Vote-in.org. Retrieved 2013-10-21. 
  5. ^ InsideINdianaBusiness.com Report (2007-07-18). "Rokita Becomes President of National Association of Secretaries of State - Newsroom - Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick". Insideindianabusiness.com. Retrieved 2010-08-23. 
  6. ^ Schneider, Mary Beth (September 8, 2009). "Lawmakers draw a line at Rokita's redistricting plan". The Indianapolis Star. Retrieved 2009-09-08. [dead link]
  7. ^ Fung, Katherine (October 3, 2013). "Rep. Todd Rokita To CNN's Carol Costello: 'You're Beautiful But You Have To Be Honest'". Huffington Post. Retrieved 25 October 2013. 
  8. ^ Alexandra R. Moses, Mike Smith; Associated Press. "Racist remark angers lawmakers Representative: Secretary of State should apologize". Indiana Daily Student. 
  9. ^ Brendan Sasso (November 3, 2010). "Todd Rokita (R)". nationaljournal.com. 
  10. ^ "Ind. Exec Apologizes for Slavery Remark", Associated Press, April 16, 2007
  11. ^ [1], WRTV-6, April 18, 2007
  12. ^ Schneider, Mary Beth (February 2, 2010). "Hershman, Rokita among growing field for Buyer's seat". Journal & Courier. Retrieved February 2, 2010. [dead link]
  13. ^ [2] "American Farm Bureau Federation interest group ranking"
  14. ^ a b "Todd Rokita for Congress". Todd Rokita for Congress. Retrieved 2013-10-21. 
  15. ^ [3] "National Taxpayers Union interest group rating"
  16. ^ [4] "bill text"
  17. ^ [5] "Health care interest group ratings"
  18. ^ [6]"NRA interest group rating"
  19. ^ [7]"Gun issues voting record"
  20. ^ "H.R. 4366 - All Actions". United States Congress. Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  21. ^ "CBO - H.R. 4366". Congressional Budget Office. Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  22. ^ "Full Biography | Congressman Todd Rokita". Rokita.house.gov. 2012-01-27. Retrieved 2013-10-21. 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Steve Buyer
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 4th congressional district

January 3, 2011 – present
Succeeded by
Incumbent
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Martha Roby
R-Alabama
United States Representatives by seniority
329th
Succeeded by
Dennis Ross
R-Florida
Political offices
Preceded by
Sue Anne Gilroy
59th Secretary of State of Indiana
2002 – 2010
Succeeded by
Charlie White