Hoffman was born in Vicksburg, Union County, Pennsylvania, where he attended the public schools. He graduated from the law department of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, in 1895. He was admitted to the Michigan Bar in 1896 and commenced practice in Allegan, Michigan, where he also became prosecuting attorney for the county from 1904–1910.
In 1934, Hoffman ran as the Republican candidate for Michigan's 4th congressional district, defeating incumbent Democrat George Ernest Foulkes. Hoffman was elected to the Seventy-fourth and was re-elected to the thirteen succeeding Congresses, serving from January 3, 1935 until January 3, 1963. He was seen as "a bitter lone wolf" during much of his time in office, unable to work with either the Democrats or the Republicans.
Hoffman was a vocal opponent of the National Polio Immunization Program, claiming that the U.S. Public Health Service had been heavily infiltrated by Russian-born doctors. In addition, he was known as an anti-Semite with fascist sympathies, even speaking at rallies held for the far-right America First Party (1944).
He was chairman, Committee on Expenditures in the Executive Departments (Eightieth Congress) and the Committee on Government Operations (Eighty-third Congress). He was not a candidate for renomination in 1962 to the Eighty-eighth Congress.
Hoffman retired to his home in Allegan, Michigan, where he died at age 92. He was interred at Oakwood Cemetery in Allegan.
Walker, Donald Edwin. "The Congressional Career of Clare E. Hoffman, 1935-63." Ph.D. diss., Michigan State University, 1982.
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- The Political Graveyard
|United States House of Representatives|
George E. Foulkes
|United States Representative for the 4th Congressional District of Michigan