Donald W. Riegle, Jr.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Don Riegle)
Jump to: navigation, search
Donald W. Riegle, Jr.
Don Riegle, Jr.jpg
United States Senator
from Michigan
In office
December 30, 1976 – January 3, 1995
Preceded by Philip A. Hart
Succeeded by Spencer Abraham
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 7th district
In office
January 3, 1967 – December 30, 1976
Preceded by John C. Mackie
Succeeded by Dale Kildee
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
In office
Preceded by William Proxmire
Succeeded by Al D'Amato
Personal details
Born Donald Wayne Riegle, Jr.
(1938-02-04) February 4, 1938 (age 78)
Flint, Michigan
Nationality American
Political party Republican (c.1956-1973)
Democratic (1973-present)
Spouse(s) Meredith Ann White (divorced 1977)
Lori Hansen Riegle (married 1978)
Children Ashley Riegle
Allison Riegle
Alma mater University of Michigan-Flint
Western Michigan University
University of Michigan
Michigan State University
Harvard Law School
Harvard Business School
Religion Methodist

Donald Wayne Riegle, Jr. (born February 4, 1938) is an American politician from Michigan, who served for five terms as a Representative and for three terms as a Senator in the U.S. Congress.

Early life[edit]

Riegle was born in Flint, Michigan and is a graduate of Flint Central High School. His father, Donald W. Riegle, Sr., was briefly the Republican mayor of Flint, Michigan.

He attended Flint Junior College and Western Michigan University, graduated with a B.A in business administration and economics from the University of Michigan (Class of 1960), and received an M.B.A. in finance from Michigan State University (Class of 1961). Riegle was employed by IBM as a financial analyst from 1961-64. He completed required course work for doctoral studies in business and government relations at Harvard Business School, 1964–66, before leaving to run for Congress. Riegle served on the faculties of Michigan State University, Boston University, the University of Southern California, and Harvard University.

In his book IKE AND DICK, author Jeffrey Frank relates the story of how Riegle, while still a Harvard student, was invited by Richard Nixon to visit his home in New York City. There, Riegle told Nixon that he had been approached by friends back in Michigan to run for Congress, but that he was uncertain, and his wife was against the idea. Nixon spent the evening encouraging Riegle to make the run, and even called Mrs. Riegle at home and convinced her to agree to her husband's campaign. Nixon's chief argument for running was that if he didn't try, he would always regret it, and that a life of regret was worse than a political defeat. Nixon also later arranged for Riegle to meet with former President Dwight Eisenhower, who also encouraged him to run.

Political life[edit]

In 1966, Riegle, then 28 years old and a moderate Republican, defeated incumbent Democratic U.S. Representative John C. Mackie to be elected from Michigan's 7th congressional district to the 90th Congress. He was subsequently re-elected as a Republican in the next three elections. In 1973, Riegle changed party affiliation to become a Democrat over differences with the Nixon Administration regarding the Vietnam War and civil rights. He was re-elected as a Democrat to the 94th Congress. He did not run for reelection to the House in 1976, but announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate to succeed retiring Senator Philip Hart and defeated Michigan Secretary of State Richard H. Austin and fellow Congressman James G. O'Hara in the Democratic primary. During the campaign, a story from The Detroit News revealed that Riegle had an affair with a staff assistant while married to his first wife. Riegle replied to the story, "My personal life in the distant past was my personal life." He, nonetheless, defeated Republican Congressman Marvin L. Esch in the general election.[1][2]

On December 30, 1976, before the new term began, Riegle resigned from the House and was appointed by the Governor to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Senator Hart for the term ending January 3, 1977. He was reelected to the Senate in 1982 and again in 1988, this time with the largest Democratic vote in the history of the state. Riegle did not seek re-election in 1994.

He served as chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, 1989–1995. Riegle also served on the Senate Committee on Finance, where he served as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Health for Families and the Uninsured, the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources, where he served as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation,where he served as the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Science and Space, and was a member of the Senate Committee on Budget from 1979 to 1994.

In his first action as Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Riegle led the efforts to reform the savings and loan industry, which resulted in the Financial Institutions Recovery, Reform, and Enforcement Act of 1989 ("FIRREA").[3] The toughest financial reform bill in 50 years, FIRREA ended the abuses and reformed the savings and loan industry. FIRREA put controls on state-chartered thrifts, stopped excessive risk taking by savings and loans, limited brokered deposits, banned junk bond investments, and set new capital requirements for savings and loans.

Riegle also led the efforts to enact the "Thrift and Bank Fraud Prosecution Act of 1990" which was added as an amendment to the Omnibus Crime Bill of 1990. Under this legislation, the maximum penalty for thrift and bank fraud was increased, including mandatory minimum jail sentences and authorized life imprisonment, provided the funds needed for prosecution in 1991, 1992, and 1993, established a new Financial Institutions Fraud Unit at the Justice Department, directed the Attorney General to establish savings and loan fraud task forces in key cities, allowed the freezing and seisure of assets of suspected savings and loan criminals, and provided for a national commission to examine the causes of the savings and loan crisis and recommend changes to prevent future problems.

In the area of bank reform, Chairman Riegle led the efforts to enact the "Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Improvement Act of 1991 ("FDICIA"), which preserved the ability of the FDIC to protect depositors and reformed the way banks are run and regulated. FDICIA also restricted the "too big to fail policy", strengthened regulation of foreign banks in the U.S., and improved disclosure requirements for banks to consumers.

Riegle was a member of the Keating Five, a group of Senators accused of improperly aiding savings and loan businessman Charles Keating.[4]

Chairman Riegle also led the effort to create a system of community development banks. The "Riegle Community Development and Regulatory Improvement Act of 1994" established the Community Development financial institutions Fund to seed and support financial institutions dedicated to supporting community development. The legislation also provided increased consumer protections for high rate home equity loans, contained measures to increase credit availability to small businesses, streamline the regulation of depository institutions, and reform the National Flood Insurance Program.

The "Riegle-Neal Interstate Banking and Branching Efficiency Act of 1994" eliminated restrictions on interstate banking by permitting bank holding companies to acquire banks in any state, permitted banks to merge across state lines unless states opt-out, and reduced the competitive advantages that foreign banks had in the U.S. market over U.S. banks.

In 1994, Riegle led an investigation of the illnesses being experienced by veterans of the Gulf War, using the jurisdiction of the Senate Banking Committee over "dual use" exports—materials and technology that could be converted to military use. The resulting investigative report to the Senate detailed at least three occasions on which U. S. military forces came into contact with chemical warfare agents that may have led to the development of Gulf War syndrome and that at least some of those biological agents (weapons of mass destruction) had been provided to Saddam Hussein by the US. Commonly referred to as the Riegle Report to the U.S. Senate, the report called for further government investigation and recourse for war veterans suffering from Gulf War syndrome.

Post elected office[edit]

In 1995, he joined Weber Shandwick Public Affairs in Washington, D.C. There he was instrumental in building the company's government affairs practice and played an important part in the procurement of Powell Tate, a government affairs firm now owned by Weber Shandwick and still operating in Washington D.C. under its independent brand. As the company grew he took on more responsibility, eventually serving as deputy chairman. He joined public relations firm APCO Worldwide in 2001, serving as chairman of government relations in Washington, D.C.

In 1972, he authored the best selling book,"O Congress," with Trevor Armbrister, Doubleday & Co., Inc. The book provides an inside look at the workings of Congress, Riegle's opposition to the Vietnam War, and his break with the Nixon White House.


  1. ^ Michael Edgerton (December 1, 1976). "Should Scandal Be Rewarded?". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 9, 2014. 
  2. ^ Gail Collins (December 21, 1998). "Editorial Observer; The Brave New World of Sex-Drenched Politics". New York Times. Retrieved November 9, 2014. 
  3. ^ Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, united States Senate, "Accomplishments of Senator Donald W. Riegle, Jr., Chairman, 1989-1994"
  4. ^ Germond, Jake (1 October 1993). "Sen. Riegle's retirement takes Clinton off hook ON POLITICS". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 13 October 2014. 


United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
John C. Mackie
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 7th congressional district

Succeeded by
Dale Kildee
United States Senate
Preceded by
Philip A. Hart
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Michigan
Served alongside: Robert P. Griffin, Carl Levin
Succeeded by
Spencer Abraham
Political offices
Preceded by
William Proxmire
Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee
Succeeded by
Al D'Amato