David Durenberger

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David Durenberger
United States Senator
from Minnesota
In office
November 8, 1978 – January 3, 1995
Preceded by Muriel Humphrey
Succeeded by Rod Grams
Personal details
Born David Ferdinand Durenberger
(1934-08-19) August 19, 1934 (age 80)
St. Cloud, Minnesota
Political party Independent
(Republican while in office)
Spouse(s) Judy Durenberger, deceased
Susan B. Foote
Alma mater Saint John's University
University of Minnesota Law School
Military service
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1956–1963

David Ferdinand Durenberger (born August 19, 1934) is an American politician and a former Republican member of the U.S. Senate from Minnesota.

Early life[edit]

Durenberger was born in St. Cloud, Minnesota. He graduated first from Saint John's University and then from the University of Minnesota Law School, receiving his J.D. in 1959.[1] He served in the United States Army Reserve from 1956 to 1963.

U.S. Senate[edit]

On November 7, 1978, Durenberger was elected in a special election to complete the unexpired term of Senator Hubert Humphrey, whose position had temporarily been filled by Humphrey's wife Muriel. He was reelected in 1982 and again in 1988, serving from November 8, 1978, to January 3, 1995, in the 96th, 97th, 98th, 99th, 100th, 101st, 102nd and 103rd Congresses. He served as the chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence during the 99th Congress.

In 1994, Durenberger was a principal figure in the withdrawal of the nomination of Admiral Stan Arthur to become Commander, U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM). At the time, Arthur was the Vice Chief of Naval Operations, effectively the Navy's number two officer, and was also the Navy's most senior Naval Aviator on active duty immediately after the 1991 Tailhook Incident. During the Senate confirmation process of Arthur, Durenberger questioned Arthur's handling of sexual harassment allegations brought by one of the Senator's constituents, a female Navy student helicopter pilot, LTJG Rebecca Hansen, who was allegedly washed out of flight training for complaining about her sexual harassment at Tailhook. Durenberger placed a hold on the nomination of Arthur to command USPACOM while waiting for an investigation. While waiting, Arthur elected to retire from the Navy on February 1, 1995 as a four-star admiral.[2][3]


In July 1990, Durenberger became only the 9th U.S. Senator to ever be formally censured by the Senate.[4] An investigation discovered that Durenberger had falsely converted $100,000 in speaking fees into promotional fees for books he had authored in order to evade the U.S. Senate's limits on speaking fees Senators may receive from private groups.[4] The investigation also discovered an elaborate financial scheme in which Durenberger rented a condominium he owned in Minneapolis in order to falsely collect over $40,000 in travel reimbursement from the Senate.[4] He was unanimously denounced by the Senate on July 25, 1990, for unethical conduct relating to outside income.[4] The Senate ordered him to repay it $29,050 plus interest for the travel reimbursement violations and to pay $95,000 to various charities for the speaking fees violations.[4] Durenberger was later disbarred for his actions.

Post-Senate life[edit]

He did not run for reelection in 1994 and was succeeded by Rod Grams. In 1995 he pleaded guilty to charges of misuse of public funds while in office, and was sentenced to one year of probation.[5]

Durenberger gave an interview in 2005 on the Inside Minnesota Politics Podcast, stating that he is no longer a supporter of the Republican Party but is not a supporter of the Democratic Party either. He said in an interview with Peter Idusogie that Democrats are better equipped to handle health care and that President George W. Bush was wrong about the Iraq War.[6] In 2010, Durenberger endorsed his former chief of staff, Independence Party member Tom Horner, for governor.[7]

Durenberger currently sits on the Advisory Board for the Energy Literacy Advocates.

Personal papers[edit]

A collection of Durenberger's senatorial files documents Durenberger's three terms in the United States Senate, and is strongest in its documentation of the final term (1989–1995). The papers are perhaps most significant for the information they contain about his interest in, and legislative activities regarding, health policy and health care reform issues. [8]

Electoral history[edit]

  • 1978 race for U.S. Senate (special election)
    • David Durenberger (R), 62%
    • Bob Short (DFL), 35%
  • 1982 race for U.S. Senate
    • David Durenberger (R) (inc.), 53%
    • Mark Dayton (DFL), 47%
  • 1988 race for U.S. Senate


External links[edit]

United States Senate
Preceded by
Muriel Humphrey
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Minnesota
Served alongside: Wendell Anderson, Rudy Boschwitz, Paul Wellstone
Succeeded by
Rod Grams
Political offices
Preceded by
Barry Goldwater
Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee
Succeeded by
David L. Boren