Charlie Dent

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Charlie Dent
Charlie Dent official photo.jpg
Chair of the House Ethics Committee
In office
January 3, 2015 – January 3, 2017
Preceded byMike Conaway
Succeeded bySusan Brooks
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 15th district
In office
January 3, 2005 – May 12, 2018
Preceded byPat Toomey
Succeeded bySusan Wild
Member of the Pennsylvania Senate
from the 16th district
In office
January 5, 1999 – November 30, 2004
Preceded byRoy Afflerbach
Succeeded byPat Browne
Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
from the 132nd district
In office
January 1, 1991 – November 25, 1998
Preceded byJohn Pressman
Succeeded byJennifer Mann
Personal details
Charles Wieder Dent

(1960-05-24) May 24, 1960 (age 63)
Allentown, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
SpousePamela Serfass
EducationPennsylvania State University (BA)
Lehigh University (MPA)

Charles Wieder Dent[1] (born May 24, 1960) is an American politician who served as a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives for Pennsylvania's 15th congressional district from 2005 to 2018.

Born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Dent worked in a variety of occupations after graduating from Pennsylvania State University. He earned a master's degree in public administration from Lehigh University and served as an aide to Congressman Donald L. Ritter. From 1991 to 2004, he served in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. In 2004, Dent won election to the United States House of Representatives, succeeding Pat Toomey.

In the House, Dent became a member of the centrist Republican Main Street Partnership and the Tuesday Group. He became co-chair of the Tuesday Group in 2007. He served on the House Committee on Appropriations, and previously chaired the House Ethics Committee.

In September 2017, Dent announced that he would retire from Congress and not seek re-election to another term in 2018.[2] In April 2018, Dent announced that he would retire in May 2018, not serving out the remainder of his term.[3][4] He resigned on May 12, 2018, leaving the seat vacant.[5]

Early life, education, and early career[edit]

Dent was born and raised in Allentown, Pennsylvania, the son of Marjorie L. (née Wieder) and Walter R. Dent. He is of German, English, and Irish descent.[6] Dent is a 1978 graduate of Allentown's William Allen High School. He received a bachelor's in international politics from Pennsylvania State University in 1982 and a masters in public administration from Lehigh University in 1993.[7] He is a member of Phi Kappa Psi,[citation needed] and previously worked as a development officer for Lehigh University, an industrial electronics salesman, a hotel clerk, and an aide to U.S. Representative Donald L. Ritter.[7]

Pennsylvania legislature[edit]

Before being elected to the United States Congress, Dent was a member of the State Legislature for 14 years. He represented Pennsylvania's 132nd house district from 1991 to 1999 after unseating Democratic incumbent Jack Pressman in a heavily Democratic district in 1990.

In 1998, Dent won an open 16th District Senate seat[8] when Democrat Roy Afflerbach, who later served as Mayor of Allentown from 2002 to 2006, retired to take up an ultimately unsuccessful bid for Congress.[citation needed]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]



Dent was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 2004, succeeding Pat Toomey, who gave up his seat to challenge Arlen Specter for the U.S. Senate. He defeated Democrat Joe Driscoll 59%–39%.


He won re-election 54%–44% against Charles Dertinger.


He won re-election 59%–41% against Allentown Democratic Party Chairman Sam Bennett.


Dent won re-election against Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan with 54% of the vote,[9] the smallest percent of the vote he received in any of his election campaigns.[10]


Dent defeated Democrat Rick Daugherty, the Chairman of the Lehigh County Democratic Party, 57%–43%.[11]


Dent won re-election unopposed.


Dent defeated Daugherty in a rematch, 58%–38%.


Rep. Charles Dent, R-PA, introduces legislation (HR 1254) to ban the ingredients found in synthetic marijuana December 7, 2011, on the House floor. The House passed the legislation December 8, 2011. Video:C-SPAN

Dent is a moderate Republican.[12] The non-partisan National Journal gave Dent a composite ideological rating of 62% conservative and 38% liberal in 2013.[13] The National Journal considered Dent to be one of the three most moderate Republicans in that year.[14] GovTrack placed Dent near the ideological center of the House of Representatives; the liberal American Civil Liberties Union gave him a rating of 35% and the fiscally conservative United States Chamber of Commerce gave him a 95% rating.[15] Dent was ranked as the 47th most bipartisan member of the U.S. House of Representatives during the 114th United States Congress (and the fourth most bipartisan member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania) in the Bipartisan Index created by The Lugar Center and the McCourt School of Public Policy that ranks members of the United States Congress by their degree of bipartisanship (by measuring the frequency each member's bills attract co-sponsors from the opposite party and each member's co-sponsorship of bills by members of the opposite party).[16]

In 2014, Dent introduced a bill to give states more flexibility in how they provide health insurance to children from families between 100 and 133 percent of the federal poverty level, according to The Ripon Advance.[17]

The Next Generation Choices Foundation selected Dent to be the Elsie Hillman Speaker at their annual National Cancer Prevention Day event in 2016 in recognition of his efforts to support legislation related to cancer prevention.[18]

Before retiring, Dent voted in line with President Trump's position on legislation 93% of the time.[19] After announcing his retirement during late 2017, he said that dealing with the "freewheeling president" became "exhausting". According to The Hill, he said "disorder, chaos, instability, uncertainty, intemperate statements" were not "conservative virtues".[20] He delivered a farewell speech on May 10,[21] and resigned on May 12, 2018, leaving the seat vacant.[5]

Political positions[edit]

Social policy[edit]

In April 2011, after admitting that it was highly controversial, Dent voted along with the other Republican members of the House for a budget bill that would have abolished government-run Medicare. It proposed to make senior citizens purchase individual private health insurance using vouchers that would have covered only a part of their costs. The Congressional Budget Office found that privatizing Medicare under this plan would significantly increase the out-of-pocket costs to seniors; by 2030, the out-of-pocket share for standard medical expenses paid by a typical 65-year-old would have risen to 68% under the Republican plan, as opposed to 25% under the then existing Medicare system. The CBO found that the Republican bill would also have increased the budget deficit for at least a decade.[22][23][24]

Dent voted against the 2007 Re-authorization of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).[25] Dent consistently opposed the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.[26] However he broke with his party and voted against one of the Republican attempts to repeal Obamacare in 2017.[27]

As a Republican who represented a district with Democratic leanings, he occasionally crossed party lines on legislation. On the issue of abortion and reproductive health care, Dent is a pro-choice Republican.[28] In 2018, Planned Parenthood, which supports legal access to abortion and birth control, gave Dent a 41% lifetime score for voting with their positions and the anti-abortion National Right to Life Committee, which opposes legal abortion, gave him a 50% rating in the same year.[13] He co-sponsored legislation to fund embryonic stem-cell research and was one of the Republicans who broke with their party to support the use of embryos in research.[29] Dent supported same-sex marriage.[30] He cosponsored the Employment Non-Discrimination Act which would have banned employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and he voted to allow foreign same-sex partners to receive green cards.[31] The Human Rights Campaign, which supports same-sex marriage and LGBT rights, gave him a 68% for their legislative scorecard.[32] In December 2010, Dent was one of fifteen Republican House members to vote in favor of repealing the United States military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban on openly gay service members.[33][34]

Citizenship and immigration[edit]

In April 2010, Dent introduced a resolution urging the U.S. State Department to issue a Certificate of Loss of Nationality to Anwar al-Awlaki. He said al-Awlaki "preaches a culture of hate" and had been a functioning member of al-Qaeda "since before 9/11", and had effectively renounced his U.S. citizenship by engaging in treasonous acts.[35] Anwar al-Awlaki was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen on September 30, 2011, and his 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman was likewise killed two weeks later; both strikes were ordered by U.S. President Barack Obama. Al-Awlaki's eight-year-daughter Nawar, also a U.S. citizen, was killed in a SEAL commando raid in Yemen on January 29, 2017. The raid was ordered by President Donald Trump. In it, a SEAL was killed and an Osprey aircraft was destroyed.[36]

In January 2012, Dent co-sponsored the Enemy Expatriation Act with Senator Joe Lieberman. The bill's purpose was "To add engaging in or supporting hostilities against the United States to the list of acts for which United States nationals would lose their nationality," where the term "hostilities" means any conflict subject to the laws of war.[37] The proposal would allow the United States government to strip U.S. citizens of their citizenship without requiring that the citizen have been convicted of a crime.[38]

Dent criticized President Donald Trump's 2017 executive order to temporarily curtail Muslim immigration until better screening methods were devised. He stated that "This is ridiculous. I guess I understand what his intention is, but unfortunately the order appears to have been rushed through without full consideration. You know, there are many, many nuances of immigration policy that can be life or death for many innocent, vulnerable people around the world."[39]


In 2005, Dent cosponsored H.R. 4411, the Goodlatte-Leach Internet Gambling Prohibition Act.[40] Dent stated in 2018 that he would "tuck" his Export-Import Bank bill into the spending bill as an omnibus. The bill would "lower the quorum on the board so it could approve large loans once more." As of 2018, the reopened bank had a seven-member board that lacked a quorum.[41]


At the start of the 112th Congress, Dent received a new position on the coveted House Appropriations Committee, and continued to serve on the House Ethics Committee. In June 2013, Dent decided to co-sponsor the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA), a bill that would require schools and districts to adopt policies specifically prohibiting bullying and harassment against all students, including LGBT young people. Dent is known for his efforts to promote LGBT equality throughout the nation.[42]


Dent is a proponent of hydrogen fuel and was one of the four founding members of the House Hydrogen Fuel Cell Caucus. In 2006, he proposed legislation aimed at promoting the rollout of commercial hydrogen fueling stations. He has spoken of his vision for the development of a "Hydrogen Highway East", similar to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's plans for a Hydrogen Highway on the West Coast. Dent is a member of The Republican Main Street Partnership. In 2007 he was elected to co-chair the Tuesday Group, a centrist organization of Congressional Republicans.[citation needed]

Drug policy[edit]

Dent is a proponent of drug prohibition, and is outspoken on the dangers of novel synthetic drugs, having personally sponsored several bills aimed to schedule new psychoactive compounds. In 2011, he sponsored the Synthetic Drug Control Act of 2011, which sought to schedule a large number of cannabimimetic agents, as well as 26 other psychoactive substances. The bill passed the House but did not make its way through the Senate.[43] On March 27, 2017, the bill was re-introduced as the Synthetic Drug Control Act of 2017.[44] If passed in its current text (as of May 14, 2017), this bill would schedule a large number of novel psychoactive substances, including 96 phenethylamines, 94 cannabimimetic agents, 15 arylcyclohexylamines, 21 tryptamines, 8 benzylpiperazines, 4 benzodiazepines, 4 opioid or opioid-like substances, 8 piperazines, and 2 tropane alkaloids.[citation needed]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus memberships[edit]

Electoral history[edit]

Year Winning candidate Party Pct Opponent Party Pct Opponent Party Pct Opponent Party Pct
2004 Charlie Dent Republican 59% Joe Driscoll Democratic 39% Richard J. Piotrowski Libertarian 1% Greta Browne Green Party 1%
2006 Charlie Dent (inc.) Republican 54% Charles Dertinger Democratic 43% Greta Browne Green Party 3%
2008 Charlie Dent (inc.) Republican 59% Sam Bennett Democratic 41%
2010 Charlie Dent (inc.) Republican 54% John Callahan Democratic 39% Jake Towne Independent 7%
2012 Charlie Dent (inc.) Republican 57% Rick Daugherty Democratic 43%
2014 Charlie Dent (inc.) Republican 100%
2016 Charlie Dent (inc.) Republican 58% Rick Daugherty Democratic 38% Paul Rizzo Libertarian 4%

Post-political career[edit]

Following his resignation from Congress, Dent joined the law firm DLA Piper as a non-attorney policy adviser. He registered as a lobbyist following the mandatory one-year cooling off period.[49]

On August 19, 2020, Dent announced his formal endorsement of Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for the 2020 presidential election, joining other Republicans such as Colin Powell, John Kasich, Christine Todd Whitman, Jeff Flake, Chuck Hagel, Susan Molinari and John Warner in choosing to vote for the Democrat in the election.[50]

On July 6, 2022, Dent endorsed Democrat Josh Shapiro in the Pennsylvania Governor Election, claiming that Shapiro would 'unite the state' and that Mastriano 'is a threat to the rule of law'.[51]

Personal life[edit]

Dent is married to Pamela Jane Serfass and has three children.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Pennsylvania Abstract – Pennsylvania State Data Center. Pennsylvania State Data Center. November 9, 2010. ISBN 9780939667246. Retrieved November 12, 2016.
  2. ^ DeBonis, Mike. "Rep. Charlie Dent, outspoken GOP moderate, will not seek reelection". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 7, 2017.
  3. ^ Circa, ERIN VOGEL-FOX. "GOP Congressman Charlie Dent resigning". WSYX. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
  4. ^ "Rep. Charlie Dent Resigning 'In the Coming Weeks'". Roll Call. April 17, 2018.
  5. ^ a b Brelje, Beth (May 14, 2018). "Charlie Dent, Pat Meehan's constituents can still get help". Reading Eagle.
  6. ^ "Dent". Archived from the original on April 23, 2016. Retrieved November 12, 2016.
  7. ^ a b "Charlie Dent". House Republicans. Archived from the original on June 3, 2014. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
  8. ^ "Pennsylvania State Senate - Charles W Dent Biography". Retrieved October 10, 2019.
  9. ^ "Pennsylvania Election Results". The New York Times.
  10. ^ "House Races". The New York Times. Retrieved November 12, 2016.
  11. ^ 2014 Election Results Senate: Live Map by State, Midterm Midterm Races Races,; accessed November 12, 2016.
  12. ^ "Moderate Republican Rep. Charlie Dent to resign". Retrieved August 2, 2018.
  13. ^ a b "The Voter's Self Defense System". Vote Smart. Retrieved August 2, 2018.
  14. ^ Voorhees, Josh (February 21, 2013). "Who Is the Most Liberal Republican in the House? Who Is the Most Conservative Democrat?". Slate. ISSN 1091-2339. Retrieved August 2, 2018.
  15. ^ "Charles Dent, former Representative for Pennsylvania's 15th Congressional District -". Retrieved August 2, 2018.
  16. ^ The Lugar Center – McCourt School Bipartisan Index (PDF), The Lugar Center, March 7, 2016, retrieved April 30, 2017
  17. ^ Martin, Aaron. "Dent bill aims to protect state-run CHIPs" Archived April 21, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, Ripon Advance. January 28, 2014; retrieved January 31, 2014.
  18. ^ "Dent outlines congressional cancer prevention efforts". The Ripon Advance. The Ripon Society. February 17, 2016. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
  19. ^ Bycoffe, Aaron (January 30, 2017). "Tracking Congress In The Age Of Trump". FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved August 2, 2018.
  20. ^ Zanona, Melanie (April 8, 2018). "Retiring GOP lawmakers cut loose on Trump". The Hill. Retrieved April 9, 2018.
  21. ^ "Transcript: U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent's farewell speech to Congress". The Morning Call. May 11, 2018.
  22. ^ Itkowitz, Colby (April 15, 2011). "A series of tough votes in Congress". Morning Call. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  23. ^ Rettig, Jessica (April 12, 2011). "House Set to Debate Paul Ryan's 2012 Budget". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved December 13, 2019.
  24. ^ Hiltzik, Michael (April 17, 2011). "Neediest and sickest would pay the price under GOP budget plan". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on April 20, 2011. Retrieved April 17, 2011.
  25. ^ "The Voter's Self Defense System". Vote Smart. Retrieved August 2, 2018.
  26. ^ "Charlie Dent: Bipartisan caucus creates new Obamacare repeal-and-replace plan". The Washington Times. Retrieved August 2, 2018.
  27. ^ "The 20 Republicans who voted against the Obamacare repeal bill". POLITICO. Retrieved August 2, 2018.
  28. ^ Kilgore, Ed. "The Near-Extinction of Pro-Choice Republicans in Congress". Daily Intelligencer. Retrieved August 2, 2018.
  29. ^ Helfrich, Jesse (June 29, 2011). "Stem cell bill gets Republican champion". TheHill. Retrieved August 2, 2018.
  30. ^ "Republican Congressman Backs Gay Marriage Because 'Life Is Too Short'". Daily Intelligencer. Retrieved August 2, 2018.
  31. ^ "Meet Charlie Dent, One of Two Moderately Sane House Republicans". The New Republic. Retrieved August 2, 2018.
  32. ^ Campaign, Human Rights. "Congressional Scorecard | Human Rights Campaign". Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved August 2, 2018.
  33. ^ Chris Geidner, House Passes DADT Repeal Bill Archived October 21, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, Metro Weekly (December 15, 2010).
  34. ^ House Vote 638 – Repeals 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Archived January 18, 2016, at the Wayback Machine, The New York Times, December 15, 2010.
  35. ^ Levine, Mike (April 22, 2010). "Rep. Introduces Resolution to Strip Radical Cleric of US Citizenship". Fox News Covers Congress. Fox News. Archived from the original on December 2, 2010. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
  36. ^ Myre, Greg. "Trump Aims For Big Splash In Taking On Terror Fight", NPR, 29 January 2017. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  37. ^ (112th Congress), H. R. 3166. "Enemy Expatriation Act". GovTrack. Retrieved October 28, 2017.
  38. ^ New Bill Known As Enemy Expatriation Act Would Allow Government To Strip Citizenship Without Conviction,, January 6, 2012.
  39. ^ Blake, Aaron (January 29, 2017). "Coffman, Gardner join Republicans against President Trump's travel ban; here's where the rest stand". Denver Post. Retrieved January 30, 2017.
  40. ^ "H.R.4411 – Internet Gambling Prohibition and Enforcement Act: Co-Sponsors" (109th Congress, 2005–2006). July 13, 2006. Retrieved March 23, 2017.
  41. ^ Wong, Scott. "Five things lawmakers want attached to the $1 trillion funding bill". The Hill. Retrieved March 10, 2018.
  42. ^ Middleton, Josh (June 17, 2013). "Pennsylvania Congressman Charlie Dent to co-sponsor LGBT-specific anti-bullying Bill". Philly Magazine. Retrieved July 20, 2013.
  43. ^ "Text – H.R.1254 – 112th Congress (2011–2012): Synthetic Drug Control Act of 2011 – – Library of Congress". May 14, 2017. Retrieved May 14, 2017.
  44. ^ "H.R.1732 – 115th Congress (2017–2018): Synthetic Drug Control Act of 2017 – – Library of Congress". May 14, 2017. Retrieved May 14, 2017.
  45. ^ "Membership". Congressional Arts Caucus. Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  46. ^ "Members". U.S. - Japan Caucus. Retrieved December 1, 2018.
  47. ^ "Featured Members". Problem Solvers Caucus. Retrieved March 28, 2021.
  48. ^ "CQ 2008 Election Guide". CQ Politics. Archived from the original on December 11, 2008. Retrieved March 2, 2009.
  49. ^ Jonathan Tamari (October 4, 2019). "Ex-Congressmen Pat Meehan, Charlie Dent, and Ryan Costello move to lobbying ranks". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved November 12, 2019.
  50. ^ Solender, Andrew. "Former Rep. Charlie Dent Joins Expanding Bloc Of Republicans Endorsing Biden". Forbes.
  51. ^ Sweitzer, Justin (July 6, 2022). "Charlie Dent and other former GOP officials endorse Josh Shapiro for governor".

External links[edit]

Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
from the 132nd district

Succeeded by
Pennsylvania State Senate
Preceded by Member of the Pennsylvania Senate
from the 16th district

Succeeded by
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 15th congressional district

Succeeded by
Preceded by Chair of the House Ethics Committee
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Chair of the Tuesday Group
Served alongside: Mark Kirk (2007–2010), Jo Ann Emerson (2010–2013), Erik Paulsen (2013–2015), Adam Kinzinger (2013–2017), Bob Dold (2015–2017), Tom MacArthur (2017), Elise Stefanik (2017–2018), John Katko (2017–2018)
Succeeded by
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded byas Former US Representative Order of precedence of the United States
as Former US Representative
Succeeded byas Former US Representative