Edward Mezvinsky

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Edward Mezvinsky
Edward Mezvinsky.jpg
Chair of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party
In office
August 13, 1981[1] – June 28, 1986
Preceded byAlex Debreczeni
Succeeded byHarris Wofford
United States Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights
In office
PresidentJimmy Carter
Preceded byAllard K. Lowenstein
Succeeded byJerome J. Shestack
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Iowa's 1st district
In office
January 3, 1973 – January 3, 1977
Preceded byFred Schwengel
Succeeded byJim Leach
Member of the Iowa House of Representatives
from the 41st district
In office
January 13, 1969 – January 10, 1971
Preceded bymulti-member district
Succeeded byEmil J. Husak
Personal details
Edward Maurice Mezvinsky

(1937-01-17) January 17, 1937 (age 84)
Ames, Iowa, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Myra Shulman
(m. 1963; div. 1974)
(m. 1975; div. 2007)
Children11, including Marc Mezvinsky
RelativesNorton Mezvinsky (brother)
Chelsea Clinton (daughter-in-law)
EducationUniversity of Iowa (BA)
University of California (MA)
University of California, Hastings (JD)
Criminal statusReleased, probation expired
Conviction(s)Bank fraud, mail fraud and wire fraud
Criminal penalty5 years imprisonment

Edward Maurice Mezvinsky (/mɛzˈvɪnski/; born January 17, 1937) is an American politician and lawyer from Iowa. He is a former U.S. Representative and felon. A Democrat, he represented Iowa's 1st congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives for two terms (1973–77).

Mezvinsky grew up in Ames, Iowa, and played high school football there. He received his law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law (1965). After being elected to the Iowa Legislature (1968), he lost a race for Congress in 1970, then won in 1972 and was re-elected in 1974. He made several unsuccessful U.S. Senate attempts in the 1980s. In 2001, he was convicted of 31 charges of felony fraud, and served five years in federal prison.[4]

In 2010, he became father-in-law to Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of Hillary and Bill Clinton.

Life and career[edit]

Mezvinsky grew up in Ames, Iowa, the son of Jewish grocery store owner Abe Mezvinsky. His father was born in Russia and his mother in Poland.[5] He was an all-state football end and member of the Ames High School state championship basketball and track teams of 1955.[6]

Mezvinsky attended the University of Iowa, graduating in 1960. He went on to earn a masters in political science from the University of California, Berkeley in 1963, and a J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of Law in 1965.[7][8] He returned briefly to Iowa to practice law, but quickly began a political career. In 1965, he worked for former Rep. Neal Smith in Washington on lobbyist disclosure and ethics bills. He was elected to the Iowa Legislature in 1968, where he attracted publicity as a consumers' advocate. He lost a 1970 campaign to unseat Republican Congressman Fred Schwengel in Iowa's 1st congressional district by only 765 votes (out of over 120,000 cast). After reapportionment improved his chances, Mezvinsky won a 1972 rematch.[6]

During his first term in Congress, he sat on the House Judiciary Committee and voted for the impeachment of President Richard Nixon for his activities in the Watergate scandal. He was one of eight Democratic members of the committee who voted for all five articles of impeachment drafted against Nixon; three were reported to the House, while two failed.

Although Mezvinsky defeated Davenport businessman Jim Leach in 1974 in the immediate aftermath of the impeachment hearings, Leach defeated him two years later, in 1976. Six months into his first term in Congress, Mezvinsky separated from his wife of ten years Myra Shulman; they were divorced two weeks after his 1974 re-election.[9] During his final term he married Marjorie Margolies, a television journalist.[6] After his 1976 defeat, they relocated to suburban Philadelphia. After serving in Congress, Mezvinsky was United States Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights from 1977-79.[10]

Mezvinsky unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate seat held by retiring incumbent Republican Richard Schweiker in 1980, but lost to former Pittsburgh Mayor Pete Flaherty. Flaherty lost the general election by a narrow margin to Republican, later Democrat Arlen Specter, who went on to serve five terms in the Senate.[citation needed]

He became chairman of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, and made a run for state attorney general in 1988. He won the Democratic primary, but lost to Republican Ernie Preate in the general election. He also unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor in 1990, losing to incumbent Mark Singel.[citation needed]

Criminal activities[edit]

In March 2001, Mezvinsky was indicted and later pleaded guilty to 31 of 69 felony charges of bank fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud. Mezvinsky, who had been working as an attorney at the time, was funneling embezzled and fraudulently obtained money to West African con men after falling victim to an online advance-fee scam.[11] In the waning days of the Clinton presidency, before the indictment was handed down, Mezvinsky's wife wrote personally to President Clinton requesting a pardon for her husband. Clinton declined.[12] Nearly $10 million was involved in the crimes. Shortly after Mezvinsky's indictment, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but the judge at his trial disallowed a mental illness defense.[6]

He entered prison in February 2003, and served his time at Federal Prison Camp, Eglin.[13] Mezvinsky, Federal Bureau of Prisons # 55040-066, was released in April 2008, after 5 years.[14] He remained on federal probation until 2011, and as of 2010 still owed $9.4 million in restitution to his victims.[15]


From 1993-95, Mezvinsky's wife Marjorie Margolies served a term in Congress. Together, they raised eleven children, three of whom were adopted. In 1998, she was the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania. In 2000, she was running for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate when her husband's business problems forced them to file for bankruptcy and forced her abrupt withdrawal.[6] They divorced several years later.[16]

Friendship with the Clintons[edit]

Mezvinsky and his wife Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky became close to U.S. President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton in the 1990s, both families met when they attended the annual Renaissance Weekend gathering in South Carolina. President Clinton was reportedly indebted to Margolies-Mezvinsky since she provided the crucial vote in the House of Representatives to pass his budget and tax bill, despite being "one of very few Democrats who represented a district with more constituents who'd get tax hikes than tax cuts, and in her campaign she'd promised not to vote for any tax increases", which cost her re-election in 1994. The Mezvinskys were frequent guests at White House state dinners during the Clinton administration.[17]

In 2010 Mezvinsky's son, Marc Mezvinsky, married Chelsea Clinton, daughter of Bill and Hillary.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Pennsylvania Demos elect Ed Mezvinsky". The Telegraph-Herald. August 14, 1981. Retrieved December 22, 2011.
  2. ^ News, DesMoinesRegister.com; accessed February 11, 2017.
  3. ^ Medina, Regina (July 30, 2010). "Pop the questions on Chelsea's wedding". Philadelphia Daily News. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
  4. ^ "Iowa ex-congressman to leave prison". The Gazette. April 9, 2008.
  5. ^ "United States Census, 1940", FamilySearch, retrieved March 20, 2018
  6. ^ a b c d e Kilen, Mike (August 3, 2003). "Whirlpool of lies swallows Mezvinsky". Des Moines Register. Retrieved May 18, 2008..
  7. ^ "Marjorie Margolies of NBC Wed to Rep. Edward Mezvinsky". The New York Times. October 6, 1975. Retrieved February 14, 2018.
  8. ^ "Bioguide Search". bioguide.congress.gov.
  9. ^ Larry Eckholt, "Mezvinskys End Marriage", Des Moines Register, November 20, 1974.
  10. ^ "MEZVINSKY - Biographical Information". Bioguide.congress.gov. Retrieved November 20, 2010.
  11. ^ The Scam That Will Not Die, accessed May 14, 2010.
  12. ^ Gerstein, Josh (February 3, 2016). "Clinton White House passed up pardon for Chelsea's father-in-law". Politico. Retrieved May 29, 2018.
  13. ^ "Pennsylvania: Ex-Congressman Enters Prison", The New York Times. February 11, 2003; retrieved August 23, 2010.
  14. ^ Bureau of Prison Inmate Locator, accessed May 20, 2008.
  15. ^ "Will Father of the Groom Be Welcome Figure at Chelsea Clinton's Wedding?". ABC news. December 1, 2009. Retrieved July 1, 2010.
  16. ^ Meet Marc Mezvinsky, Chelsea Clinton's Fiancé, politicsdaily.com, December 2, 2009.
  17. ^ oss, Brian (December 8, 2006). "Former Congressman Duped by Nigerian Scams". ABC News. Archived from the original on November 1, 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
  18. ^ Seeing the "for worse" hasn't scared Chelsea from the altar, Philly.com; accessed February 12, 2017.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Iowa's 1st congressional district

Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by
Chairman of Pennsylvania Democratic Party
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Democratic nominee for Attorney General of Pennsylvania
Succeeded by