Gary Franks

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Gary Franks
Gary A. Franks.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Connecticut's 5th district
In office
January 3, 1991 – January 3, 1997
Preceded byJohn G. Rowland
Succeeded byJames H. Maloney
Personal details
Gary Alvin Franks

(1953-02-09) February 9, 1953 (age 68)
Waterbury, Connecticut, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
EducationYale University (BA)

Gary Alvin Franks (born February 9, 1953) is an American politician who was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Connecticut for six years, from 1991 until 1997. He is the first African-American elected to the U.S. Congress from Connecticut, the first modern black conservative elected to Congress, and the first black Republican elected in sixty years. Franks ran for the United States Senate in 1998, losing to incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Chris Dodd.

Early life[edit]

Franks was born in Waterbury, Connecticut. He is one of six children of a brass mill worker and a hospital dietary aide.[1] He was elected president of his class at Sacred Heart High School.[2]

Franks received his Bachelor of Arts from Yale University in 1975. He was captain of the basketball team and a free agent for the New Orleans Jazz NBA team.[1][3]

After Yale, Franks worked in labor relations for 10 years at Continental Can Co., Chesebrough-Pond's Inc. and Cadbury Schweppes PLC.[2]


Franks served as a member of the Waterbury board of aldermen from 1986 to 1990. He was an unsuccessful candidate for Connecticut comptroller in 1986.

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]


Franks was the first African-American Republican to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives since Oscar Stanton De Priest won his last term representing the South Side of Chicago in 1932. The other African-American Republican member of the U.S. House in the 1990s was J. C. Watts from Oklahoma. In his 1990 election, Franks defeated former 6th District congressman Toby Moffett, whom Franks portrayed as too liberal to represent the district. Both President George H. W. Bush and his wife Barbara Bush campaigned for Franks.[2]

Franks won in a three-way election in 1992 when Democratic candidates split between endorsed candidate Judge James Lawlor, a moderate from Waterbury, and A Connecticut Party candidate Lynn Taborsak, a pro-labor candidate from Danbury. James H. Maloney, then the Democratic state senator from Danbury, challenged Franks in 1994 and received 46% of the vote. In a 1996 rematch, Maloney ran again and defeated Franks, benefiting from President Bill Clinton's strong showing in Connecticut.


As Chairman of the Panel for Defense Conversion, Franks got $20 million approved for the demolition and cleanup of an old defense manufacturing site in his hometown of Waterbury, CT. When it opened it was the site of New England’s second largest commercial mall.

As Connecticut’s lone member on the Armed Services Committee, Franks delivered more defense contracts to Connecticut than ever before. This included the awarding of the ‘Seawolf Submarine’ which produced thousands of jobs in Connecticut for more than a decade. Franks also secured orders of the M16 rifle for Colt Manufacturing which helped to save the company.

Franks wrote the bill that authorized Connecticut’s first National Park Service site, located in Ridgefield, Connecticut and called Weir Farm National Historic Site.

He also wrote the Urban Entrepreneurial Opportunities Bill, then called the SBA’s New Markets Program. President Clinton signed into law most of its components in 2000. It was targeted toward the 35 million Americans who live in poverty. The Program created the New Market Venture Funds, which is designed to provide equity investments and technical assistance to ‘Small Businesses’ in ‘Low Income’ areas.[3]

1998 campaign for Senate[edit]

Frank's high visibility in congress led to speculation about a run for higher office.[4] Franks declared his candidacy for U.S. Senate in 1998, challenging incumbent Senator Chris Dodd.[5] He ran unopposed for the Republican nomination.[5] Franks was defeated by Dodd in the election, receiving just 32 percent of the vote.

Subsequent career[edit]

In 1999, Franks founded and became a partner in the public affairs firm, Gary Alvin Associates, LLC based in Washington, DC. Franks has served as an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University and is currently a Visiting Professor at Hampton University and the University of Virginia[6][7] He also served as president and chairman of Pacific Rim Trading & Investment Corp., a Fort Lauderdale group that recycles American scrap metal from America to China.[8]

In 2010, 13 years after leaving Congress, Franks was profiled by the Waterbury newspaper, the Republican-American, in a piece detailing what the newspaper alleged were his history of unpaid debts, back taxes, and foreclosed properties. Although Franks was registered to vote in Waterbury, the article stated that he had not done so in 10 years, during which time he and his wife lived in Maryland and Florida under alternate versions of their legal names.[9] Franks has contested the Republican-American's account. In an interview in September 2015, he stated: "Most of those things are lies. I've had the same name all my life. I have lived in my same residence for 12 years. I have visited and have lived in a little place in Florida for a year or so". Franks stated in the interview that rental properties that he had bought while he was a politician were burned down by the Ku Klux Klan, and that after he sued a hospital following the death of his sister, the "hospital has taken it upon itself to retaliate in this manner, working through one or two newspapers to spread these stories that are just so fictitious and so libelous, and so hateful".[10]

In 2015, Franks was featured in the Wall Street Journal piece "Making the Republican Case for Black Support." Franks says, "Yes, you’ve got to show up but it’s more than that. You’ve got to explain that participating in only one half of a [two-party] system doesn’t work. You’ve got to show contrasts between what Democrats have done and what Republicans have done on issues like school choice and faith-based interventions.” [11]

Political views[edit]

Franks ran as a candidate in favor of welfare reform, an opponent of affirmative action and a supporter of the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. He opposed increased taxation and supported a reduced capital gains tax and an amendment to ban desecration of the American flag.

Franks opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1990 when it was being debated in Congress, and when he was running for his first term. One of his reasonings was that enforced quotas would encourage companies to move out of Connecticut to states with a greater proportion of whites, since in Connecticut, companies' ability to recruit out-of-state white workers would be balanced against a large in-state African American population in a way that would not occur in states with fewer African Americans. However, he did vote for the Civil Rights Act of 1991 when he was in Congress during his first term.[12]

After becoming the first Republican voting member of the Congressional Black Caucus, Franks was ejected from the strategy sessions of the caucus on the claim he was a Republican mole due to his opposition to racial gerrymandering. He was later barred from the beginning half-hour-long lunch of the Caucus.

Personal life[edit]

Franks married Donna Williams in 1990; they have two daughters and a son. He is a Baptist.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "GOP's Franks was in, is now out". Retrieved 28 November 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b c Trescott, Jacqueline (1991-07-31). "Rep. Gary Franks, Unexpected Republican". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2018-11-28. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ a b "Gary Franks former Congressman, Black Republican Conservative - About Us". Retrieved 28 November 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ Howard, David. "Gary R. Franks Tries the Rebound Trail". Retrieved 28 November 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ a b Ravo, Nick. "THE 1998 ELECTIONS: AROUND THE REGION -- THE SENATE; Dodd Coasts To Victory And 4th Term In the Senate". Retrieved 28 November 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ "Gary Franks former Congressman, Black Republican Conservative". Retrieved 28 November 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ "GaryFranks - Politics - University of Virginia". Retrieved 28 November 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ Overton, Penelope (2010-11-30). "Debt-racked ex-congressman settles in St. Lucie County, then disappears". Retrieved 2018-11-28. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ "Where is Gary Franks? Three-term congressman leaves trail of debt, but cannot be found". November 28, 2010. Retrieved April 16, 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ "Transcript: Former U.S. Congressman Gary Franks on Politics and the War on God". WNPR. September 15, 2015. Retrieved April 16, 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ Riley, Jason L. "Making the Republican Case for Black Support". Retrieved 28 November 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ "S. 1745 (102nd): Civil Rights Act of 1991 -- House Vote #386 -- Nov 7, 1991". Retrieved 28 November 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
John G. Rowland
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Connecticut's 5th congressional district

Succeeded by
James H. Maloney
Party political offices
Preceded by
Brook Johnson
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Connecticut
(Class 3)

Succeeded by
Jack Orchulli