Bonnie Campbell

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Bonnie Campbell
32nd Iowa Attorney General
In office
Preceded by Tom Miller
Succeeded by Tom Miller
Personal details
Born (1948-04-09) April 9, 1948 (age 67)
Norwich, New York
Political party Iowa Democratic Party
Alma mater Drake University, Drake University School of Law
Profession attorney, regent

Bonnie J. Campbell (born April 9, 1948) is an American lawyer, a former Iowa Attorney General, a former Iowa gubernatorial candidate, a former official in the U.S. Department of Justice and a former federal judicial nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

Early life, education and career prior to elected office[edit]

Originally from Norwich, New York, Campbell moved to Washington, D.C. after completing high school and began working for a succession of politicians, including for United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Robert C. Weaver as a clerk-stenographer from 1965 until 1967. She then worked as a clerk for the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Relations from 1967 until 1969. She joined the office of U.S. Sen. Harold Hughes as a caseworker from 1969 until 1974. Her work for Hughes brought her to Iowa, where she took a job with U.S. Sen. John Culver as a field office coordinator from 1974 until 1981.

During her time working for Senator Culver, Campbell pursued her undergraduate degree, earning a bachelor's degree from Drake University in 1982. She subsequently earned a law degree from Drake University Law School in 1984. She worked as a lawyer in private practice in Iowa from 1985 until 1991, and also was the chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party from 1987 until 1991.[1]

Career in electoral politics and later work in the U.S. Department of Justice[edit]

In 1990, Campbell won election as Iowa's attorney general as a Democrat, defeating her Republican opponent, Ed Kelly. She is known most during her time as attorney general for having written an anti-stalking law that became a national blueprint.[2] In 1994, Campbell ran for governor but lost to incumbent Gov. Terry Branstad by a margin of 57 percent to 42 percent. On March 21, 1995, President Clinton appointed Campbell to head the U.S. Department of Justice's newly created Violence Against Women office. Campbell's own family life helped to inform her experience in the role, given that her half-brother, Stephen Pierce, had been found guilty in 1975 of murdering a 16-year-old girl during a rape attempt. "In a sense, I suppose you could call it making amends," Campbell told People magazine in an article that appeared on November 20, 1995. "While I had nothing to do with Stephen's crime, it left a permanent scar on me."[3]

In 1997, Time magazine named Campbell one of the magazine's 25 most influential Americans.[4]

Nomination to the Eighth Circuit[edit]

On March 2, 2000, President Clinton nominated Campbell to the Eighth Circuit vacancy created by the retirement of George Gardner Fagg.[5] Almost immediately, despite the fact that she had the support of both her state's Democratic and Republican senators, Republican senators targeted her nomination, noting that she had angered Christian conservatives during her 1994 gubernatorial run by saying, "I hate to call them Christian because I am Christian, and I hate to call them religious, because they're not, so I'll call them the radical right."[6] While the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee did conduct a hearing on her judicial nomination on May 25, 2000, with less than eight months remaining before Clinton's presidency ended, the Republican-led Judiciary Committee never voted on her nomination, preventing the Senate from ever taking a full vote on her nomination. Clinton renominated her on January 3, 2001, but her nomination was returned by President Bush on March 20, 2001, along with 61 other executive and judicial nominations that Clinton had made. "I have a political background and I think I saw it for what it was," Campbell told the Des Moines Business Record in an article that was published on August 25, 2003. "It was a political battle....I don't think it was personal."

Career since the failed nomination[edit]

After Clinton's term ended, Campbell joined the Washington, D.C. law firm Arent, Fox, Kintner, Plotkin & Kahn.[7] She moved back to Iowa in 2003 and opened a private legal practice. In 2007, she was appointed by Gov. Chet Culver to the state's Board of Regents.[8]

See also[edit]