Ellen Tauscher

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Ellen Tauscher
Ellen Tauscher US State Dept photo.jpg
Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs
In office
June 26, 2009 – February 7, 2012
President Barack Obama
Preceded by John Rood
Succeeded by Rose Gottemoeller
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 10th district
In office
January 3, 1997 – June 26, 2009
Preceded by Bill Baker
Succeeded by John Garamendi
Personal details
Born Ellen O'Kane
(1951-11-15) November 15, 1951 (age 64)
Newark, New Jersey
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) William Tauscher (Divorced 1999)
Jim Cieslak (2009–2011)
Children Katherine
Alma mater Seton Hall University
Religion Roman Catholicism

Ellen O'Kane Tauscher (born November 15, 1951) is an American politician and member of the Democratic Party who was the U.S. Representative for California's 10th congressional district from 1997 until her resignation in 2009 upon joining the State Department, where she served as the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs until February 2012. She then served as Special Envoy for Strategic Stability and Missile Defense at the State Department until August 31, 2012.

A Blue Dog Democrat, Tauscher is a centrist on many issues and is notably a war hawk.[1] Since leaving the State Department, Tauscher has assumed a number of publicly held corporate and non-profit board positions, including serving on the boards of Southern California Edison, Invacare, The Commonwealth Club of California, and the Executive Committee of the Atlantic Council. Tauscher also serves on the board of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) and as Chair of the NCCN Foundation.

Early life and career[edit]

Ellen Tauscher was born in Newark, New Jersey. Her mother was a secretary, and her father was a shop steward for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.[2] The first member of her family to attend college, she graduated in 1974 from Seton Hall University, where she obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in early childhood education.[3]

She then worked as an investment banker with Bache & Co. and, at age 25, was the youngest and one of the first women to become a member of the New York Stock Exchange.[3] She also served as an officer of the American Stock Exchange from 1979 to 1983, after which she worked for Bear Stearns and a subsidiary of Drexel Burnham Lambert.[4]

In 1989, Tauscher moved to California and later founded the ChildCare Registry, the first national research service to help parents verify the background of childcare workers.[4] She also published The ChildCare Sourcebook and headed the Tauscher Foundation, which provided funds for elementary schools to buy computers and Internet access.[5]

Political career[edit]

Before running for the United States House of Representatives, Tauscher was active in Democratic circles as a fundraiser[6] and also chaired Dianne Feinstein's successful 1992 and 1994 Senate campaigns.

In 1996, Tauscher was recruited to run against two-term Republican incumbent Bill Baker in California's 10th congressional district, which included several wealthy suburbs in the East Bay. During the campaign, Tauscher emphasized balancing the federal budget, her support for business, the environment, and the military.[7] She also charged that Baker was too conservative for the district, particularly given his opposition to abortion and gun control.[8] She narrowly defeated Baker, claiming victory by a margin of 1.45% of the vote.[9] The race was ranked as the fourth most expensive of that year's 435 House races.[10]

Tauscher was re-elected in 1998 and 2000 against vigorous Republican opposition. While the 10th district was once considered "solid Republican territory,"[8] most Bay Area Republicans tend to be more moderate than their counterparts in the rest of California and have been increasingly willing to support Democrats at the national level since the 1990s.

In 2000, during the statewide redistricting process, some of the more Republican-leaning parts of Tauscher's district were removed and replaced with more Democratic territory near Berkeley and in Solano county. She was subsequently re-elected to four more terms, facing no substantive opposition and receiving more than 65 percent of the vote after 2002.

In the House of Representatives, Tauscher served on the Armed Services Committee and the Transportation and InfrastructureCommittee. She chaired the Strategic Forces subcommittee of the Armed Services Committee, which oversees the country's nuclear weapons stockpile, missile defense program, and the national labs. Tauscher was the only member of Congress who had two national labs in her district, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the California campus of Sandia National Laboratories. At the time she left Congress, Tauscher also was the senior member from California serving on the Highways and Transit subcommittee and the Aviation subcommittee of the Transportation and Infrastructure committee.[11] From her position on the Transportation Committee, Tauscher brought $33 million to her district for transportation and infrastructure projects.[12]

On March 18, 2009, President Obama nominated Tauscher to the position of Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. She was confirmed by the United States Senate on June 25, 2009 by unanimous consent.[13] Notwithstanding her appointment, confirmation and acceptance, she served as Speaker Pro Tempore on June 26, 2009, when the House narrowly passed (219–212) a cap-and-trade global warming bill.[14] Tauscher resigned her seat on June 26, 2009, after voting was finished on the American Clean Energy & Security Act.[15] Her resignation necessitated a special election.[16] Tauscher served as Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security until her appointment on February 6, 2012 as Special Envoy for Strategic Stability and Missile Defense. Tauscher retired from the State Department on August 31, 2012.

As Undersecretary of State, Tauscher successfully negotiated the New START treaty with the Russian Federation in March 2010.[17] The first major agreement signed with Russia in nearly 20 years, the treaty was signed by Presidents Obama and Medvedev on April 8, 2010 and ratified by the U.S. Senate in December 22, 2010. Tauscher represented the United States at the U.N. NPT review conference that is held every five years to review the status of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT).[18] The 2010 conference was the first in 10 years to result in an consensus agreement. Tauscher was also the lead official in the State Department working on the bilateral agreements with Poland, Romania, and Turkey for the European Phased Adaptive Approach missile defense system, negotiating timely agreements that allowed the President's deployment timeline to be met.[19]

In 2008, Tauscher was a strong supporter of Hillary Rodham Clinton's candidacy for President. She traveled around the country as a surrogate for Clinton's campaign in the primary. In 2013, she was one of the first prominent elected officials to join the Ready for Hillary effort that has now grown to be one of the largest independent grassroots efforts on behalf of an undeclared Presidential candidate in history.[20]

Career after politics[edit]

In 2012, Tauscher returned to the private sector, joining the boards of a number of publicly held corporations, including Invacare Corporation, ehealth, Inc, Edison International and Southern California Edison, and SeaWorld Entertainment. She also serves as an independent member of the Board of Governors of Lawrence Livermore National Security LLC and Los Alamos National Security LLC; a member of the Board of Directors of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network and is chairman of the Board of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Foundation.

In August 2013, the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety elected Tauscher as independent chairperson.[21] The Alliance is a coalition of some of the largest clothing retailers and brands in North America, including Wal-Mart, Target, the Gap, Costco, and VF Brands. The Alliance is working with the government of Bangladesh, factory owners, and international organizations to improve worker safety for Bangledeshi garment workers.

Tauscher also serves as a strategic advisor to the Washington, D.C. law firm of Baker Donelson on matters of defense, transportation, energy, and health care.

Political views[edit]

A leading centrist Democrat, Tauscher was the chairwoman of the New Democrat Coalition, a caucus of moderate Democrats in the House. She also served as vice-chairwoman of the Democratic Leadership Council from 2001 to 2005. Her politically moderate ideology was dubbed "Tauscherism" by Time magazine.[8]

Tauscher received an 11% lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union,[22] and a 95% rating for her 2008 voting record from Americans for Democratic Action.[23]

While in Congress, she supported universal health care and, in particular, covering uninsured children through the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).[24] She also supported scaling back the estate tax, tightening bankruptcy rules, and expanding free trade.[7]


Tauscher is strongly pro-choice. She received a 100% positive rating from NARAL.[25] She voted against bans on late-term and partial-birth abortions.

She also supported federal funding of stem cell research, voting in favor of both Stem Cell Research Enhancement Acts.

Gun rights[edit]

Tauscher is in favor of more extensive gun control. She has expressed her support for the Second Amendment, but has also said that "we should keep guns out of the hands of criminals and those with history of violence." She has called for "common sense gun safety legislation that strikes a balance between Second Amendment protections and protections for the public."

While in Congress, she supported arming commercial pilots, requiring background checks of legal gun owners, and banning Saturday night specials.[26] She received an F rating from the National Rifle Association.[27]

Iraq war[edit]

In October 2002, Tauscher voted in favor of the Iraq Resolution, approving the use of military force in Iraq. However, she later became a critic of the Iraq War, while continuing to vote for funding for the War (see HR 1585[28]). In December 2005, Tauscher led a group of twenty-two other House Democrats in sending a letter to President George W. Bush urging him to withdraw U.S. troops, expressing the hope that the "Iraqi government takes increased responsibility" for its political and security needs.[29] She later voted to redeploy troops out of Iraq within 90 days[25] and even to impeach President Bush over the war.[30]

LGBT issues[edit]

Tauscher was an early proponent of same-sex marriage, publicly stating in 2004 in response to President George W. Bush's call for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, "It is clear to me that this is the civil rights issue of the 21st century, and it is unambiguous in my mind that the government cannot discriminate by gender the rights conferred by the state in marriage."[31] In 2006, she voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would have constitutionally defined marriage as being between a man and woman.[25]

On March 3, 2009 Tauscher introduced the Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2009 to the House of Representatives, which would have repealed Don't Ask, Don't Tell. The bill eventually passed in a slightly different form in 2010 after Tauscher had left the House, repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

She was opposed to banning gays from the Boy Scouts. She had a 100% rating from the Human Rights Campaign, the largest gay rights advocacy group in the United States.[25]

Personal life[edit]

Tauscher lives in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Prior to their divorce in 1999, she was married to William Tauscher, former Chairman and CEO of Vanstar Corporation, current director of Safeway, Inc.,[32] and founder of the Tauscher Group, which invests and assists in the management of enterprises in home products, transportation, security and real estate.[33] She has a daughter, Katherine (born 1991).[5]

On the same day as her taking the office of Undersecretary she married retired airline pilot Jim Cieslak.[34] They divorced in 2011.

In July 2010, Tauscher was diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer of the esophagus.[35] Esophageal cancer is one of the fastest growing cancers in the United States and one of the deadliest, with a survival rate of 10%. After a grueling regimen of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery to remove her esophagus, Tauscher was declared cancer-free in December 2010. Since that time, she has been active as a board member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) and as Chair of the NCCN Foundation, as well as speaking around the country, advocating for more information, more funding and earlier screening for the disease.

Electoral history[edit]

United States House of Representatives elections, 1996[36]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Ellen Tauscher 137,726 48.7
Republican Bill Baker (incumbent) 133,633 47.2
Reform John Place 6,354 2.3
Natural Law Valerie Janlois 3,047 1.0
Libertarian Gregory Lyon 2,423 0.8
Total votes 283,183 100.0
Voter turnout  %
Democratic gain from Republican
United States House of Representatives elections, 1998[37]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Ellen Tauscher (incumbent) 127,134 53.46
Republican Charles Ball 103,299 43.44
Natural Law Valerie Janlois 3,941 1.66
Reform John Place 3,435 1.44
Total votes 237,809 100.0
Voter turnout  %
Democratic hold
United States House of Representatives elections, 2000[38]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Ellen Tauscher (incumbent) 160,429 52.7
Republican Claude B. Hutchison, Jr. 134,863 44.2
Natural Law Valerie Janlois 9,527 3.1
Total votes 304,819 100.0
Voter turnout  %
Democratic hold
United States House of Representatives elections, 2002[39]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Ellen Tauscher (incumbent) 123,481 75.6
Libertarian Sonia E. Alonso Harden 39,858 24.4
Total votes 163,339 100.0
Voter turnout  %
Democratic hold
United States House of Representatives elections, 2004[40]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Ellen Tauscher (incumbent) 182,750 65.8
Republican Jeff Ketelson 95,349 34.2
Total votes 278,099 100.0
Voter turnout  %
Democratic hold
United States House of Representatives elections, 2006[41]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Ellen Tauscher (incumbent) 130,859 66.5
Republican Darcy Linn 66,069 33.5
Republican Jeff Ketelson (write-in) 50 0.0
Total votes 196,978 100.0
Voter turnout  %
Democratic hold
United States House of Representatives elections, 2008[42]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Ellen Tauscher (incumbent) 192,226 65.1
Republican Nicholas Gerber 91,877 31.1
Peace and Freedom Eugene Ruyle 11,062 3.8
Total votes 295,165 100.0
Voter turnout  %
Democratic hold


  1. ^ Josh Richman (January 23, 2015). "Ellen Tauscher and Karl Rove keep it friendly in the East Bay". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved January 26, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Ellen Tauscher". Biography Center. Retrieved May 6, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b "Honorary Degrees: Ellen O. Tauscher, Public Servant/Civic Leader". California State University, East Bay. Retrieved May 6, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b "Ellen O. Tauscher Page". Contra Costa Demonstrator. November 7, 1996. 
  5. ^ a b "Full Biography for Ellen O. Tauscher". League of California Women Voters. 
  6. ^ Juliet Eilperin; Michael Grunwald (February 21, 2007). "The Woman in the Middle". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 6, 2015. 
  7. ^ a b Juliet Eilperin; Michael Grunwald (February 21, 2007). "The Woman in the Middle". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 6, 2015. 
  8. ^ a b c Peter Beinart (November 24, 1997). "Why the Democratic Center Can't Hold". Time. Retrieved May 6, 2015. (subscription required)
  9. ^ "CA District 10". Our Campaigns - CA District 10 Race - Nov 05, 1996. 3 June 2003. Our Campaigns. 23 July 2007. Retrieved from http://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=29362.
  10. ^ Renegade Republican (March 23, 2009). "Ellen Tauscher: Grand Dame". Concord, California: Halfway to Concord. Retrieved May 6, 2015. 
  11. ^ "Ellen O'Kane Tauscher". Baker Donelson. Retrieved May 6, 2015. 
  12. ^ "Tauscher, Ellen O'Kane". History, Art & Archives, United States House of Representatives. Retrieved May 6, 2015. 
  13. ^ Stannard, Matthew (June 25, 2009). "Rep. Tauscher new U.S. arms control chief". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved June 25, 2009. 
  14. ^ "Climate bills hot talk". CNN. June 26, 2009. [dead link]
  15. ^ "Climate Change Bill Narrowly Passes in House". CQ Politics. June 26, 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-06-29. Retrieved 2010-08-22. 
  16. ^ "Special election to replace former Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher attracts 14 candidates". Contra Costa Times. August 1, 2009. Retrieved 2010-08-22. 
  17. ^ Josh Rogin (July 27, 2010). "Key Obama arms control official diagnosed with cancer". The Cable (Foreign Policy). Retrieved May 6, 2015. 
  18. ^ Ellen Tauscher (September 23, 2011). "CTBT Article XIV Conference". Retrieved May 6, 2015.  Text of Tauscher speech at CTBT Article XIV Conference in New York City.
  19. ^ Ellen Tauscher (October 7, 2009). "Transcript: Missile Defense in Europe". Atlantic Council. Retrieved May 6, 2015. 
  20. ^ Carla Marinucci (April 9, 2013). "Hillary Clinton backers see state as key". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved May 6, 2015. 
  21. ^ "N.A. Bangladesh Alliance Names Chair". WWD. 20 August 2013. Retrieved 21 August 2013. (subscription required)
  22. ^ American Conservative Union. 2007 Votes by State Delegation
  23. ^ Americans for Democratic Action. Voting Records
  24. ^ "Tauscher Policy: Healthcare". Ellen Tauscher for Congress. 
  25. ^ a b c d "Ellen Tauscher on the Issues". OnTheIssues.org. 
  26. ^ "Ellen Tauscher's Voting Records on Issue: Guns". Vote Smart. Retrieved May 6, 2015. 
  27. ^ "Ellen Tauscher on Gun Control". On The Issues. Retrieved May 6, 2015. 
  28. ^ "HR-1585 Iraq War Funding" Retrieved from http://www.my-representative.org/report.php?csn=110&RegionCode=CA-10
  29. ^ "Langevin Joins Democrats, Signs Letter to Bush on Iraq War". U.S. House of Representatives. 2005-12-22. 
  30. ^ . Office of the Clerk. Final Vote Results for Roll Call 401 June 11, 2008
  31. ^ "Political Parties Skittish about Hot Button Issue". San Francisco Chronicle. 2008-05-15. 
  32. ^ "Notice of Annual Meeting of Stockholders". Safeway Inc. March 27, 2009. Retrieved May 6, 2015. 
  33. ^ "William Y. Tauscher Profile". Forbes. 
  34. ^ Lisa Vorderbrueggen (June 29, 2009). "In a twofer, Tauscher takes oath of marriage and office". Contra Costa Times. Retrieved May 6, 2015. 
  35. ^ Lisa Vorderbrueggen. "Ellen Tauscher diagnosed with cancer". Contra Costa Times. Retrieved 2010-08-22. 
  36. ^ Robin H. Carle (July 29, 1997). "Statistics of the Presidential and Congressional Election of November 5, 1996" (PDF). Clerk of the House of Representatives. Retrieved May 6, 2015. 
  37. ^ Jeff Trandahl (January 3, 1999). "Statistics of the Presidential and Congressional Election of November 3, 1998" (PDF). Clerk of the House of Representatives. Retrieved May 6, 2015. 
  38. ^ Jeff Trandahl (June 21, 2001). "Statistics of the Presidential and Congressional Election of November 7, 2000" (PDF). Clerk of the House of Representatives. Retrieved May 6, 2015. 
  39. ^ 2002 general election results Archived February 3, 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  40. ^ 2004 general election results[dead link]
  41. ^ 2006 general election results Archived November 27, 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  42. ^ "CA - District 10". Our Campaigns. 2008. Retrieved May 6, 2015. 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
William Baker
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 10th congressional district

Succeeded by
John Garamendi
Political offices
Preceded by
John Rood
Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs
Succeeded by
Rose Gottemoeller