Jane Harman

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Jane Harman
Jane Harman official photo.jpg
President of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
Assumed office
February 28, 2011
Preceded byLee Hamilton
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 36th district
In office
January 3, 1993 – January 3, 1999
Preceded byMel Levine (redistricting)
Succeeded bySteven T. Kuykendall
In office
January 3, 2001 – February 28, 2011
Preceded bySteven T. Kuykendall
Succeeded byJanice Hahn
Personal details
Jane Margaret Lakes

(1945-06-28) June 28, 1945 (age 75)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Richard Frank
(m. 1969⁠–⁠1978)

(m. 1980; died 2011)
EducationSmith College (BA)
Harvard University (JD)

Jane Margaret Lakes Harman (born June 28, 1945) is the former U.S. Representative for California's 36th congressional district, serving from 1993 to 1999, and from 2001 to 2011; she is a member of the Democratic Party. Harman was the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee and the Homeland Security Committee's intelligence subcommittee. When Democrats held the House majority, she was in line to chair the House intelligence committee but was denied the post by then-Speaker Pelosi.[1] Resigning from Congress in February 2011, Harman became President and CEO of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.[2] She succeeded former Congressman Lee H. Hamilton and is the first woman to lead the organization.

Early life and education[edit]

Harman during the MSC 2017

Harman was born Jane Margaret Lakes in New York City, the daughter of Lucille (née Geier) and Adolf N. Lakes.[3] Her father was born in Poland and escaped from Nazi Germany in 1935;[4] he worked as a medical doctor. Her mother was born in the United States and was the first one in her family to receive college education. Her maternal grandparents immigrated from Russia.[5] Harman's family moved to Los Angeles, California when she was 4 and there she attended Los Angeles public schools, graduating from University High School in 1962.[6] She received a bachelor's degree in government with honors from Smith College in 1966 and graduated magna cum laude and served as president of the Smith College Young Democrats.[7] Harman continued her studies at Harvard Law School, where she earned her Juris Doctor degree in 1969.[8]


Early career[edit]

After graduating from law school, Harman - then known as Jane Lakes - married future NOAA administrator Richard A. Frank in 1969, and they had two children. They spent a short time in Switzerland and then she worked for two years as an associate with the law firm Surrey, Karasik and Morse in Washington, DC. She began her political career by serving on the staff of Senator John V. Tunney, and as his staff director from 1972-73. In 1973, Tunney named her his chief counsel and staff director for the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights. During this time she also taught at Georgetown. When Tunney lost re-election in 1976, Harman - then known as Jane Lakes Frank - joined the Carter White House where she served as special counsel to the Department of Defense, and as Deputy Secretary of the Cabinet. She made headlines in 1978, when she quit to spend more time with her children. She and her husband, Richard Frank divorced the same year.[9][10] Two years later, she married Sidney Harman, who she had met in the White House when he was her first husband's boss.[11][12] Through the 1980s, Jane Harman worked as a corporate lawyer and as a director of her husband's company, Harman International Industries.[10]

U.S. Representative, 1993 to 1999[edit]

Harman was first elected to Congress in 1992 and became the first Smith College graduate to be elected to Congress. From 1993 to 1999, Harman represented the 36th, serving in the 103rd, 104th, and 105th Congresses. In 1994, she barely survived reelection in a heavily Republican year, winning by 812 votes over Rancho Palos Verdes Mayor Susan Brooks.

1998 California gubernatorial campaign[edit]

Harman did not run for the 106th United States Congress in 1998, instead entering the 1998 California gubernatorial race. It was during that race that she was called "the best Republican in the Democratic Party".[13]

After losing the Democratic nomination to Lieutenant Governor Gray Davis, she briefly taught public policy and international relations at UCLA as a Regents' Professor before running for and winning her old congressional seat in the 2000 election.

U.S. Representative, 2000 to 2011[edit]

Harman's portrait during her second term as US Rep

Harman narrowly won her old seat in 2000, defeating Republican incumbent Steven T. Kuykendall, and was easily re-elected in 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2010.

Representing the aerospace center of California during her nine terms in Congress, she served on all the major security committees: six years on Armed Services, eight years on Intelligence, and eight on Homeland Security. She made numerous congressional fact-finding missions to hotspots around the world, including North Korea, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Guantanamo Bay. During her long public career, Harman has been recognized as a national expert at the nexus of security and public policy issues. She received the Defense Department Medal for Distinguished Service in 1998, the CIA Agency Seal Medal in 2007, and the CIA Director's Award and the Director of National Intelligence Distinguished Public Service Medal in 2011.

2009 wiretap/AIPAC allegations[edit]

In 2009, it was revealed NSA wiretaps reportedly intercepted a 2005 phone call between Harman and an agent of the Israeli government, in which Harman allegedly agreed to lobby the Justice Department to reduce or drop criminal charges against two employees of AIPAC in exchange for increased support for Harman's campaign to chair the House Intelligence Committee.[14] The NSA transcripts reportedly recorded Harman ending the phone call after saying, "this conversation doesn't exist."[15] It was reported that Alberto Gonzales, Attorney General at the time of the phone call, blocked Justice Department lawyers from continuing the investigation into Harman (in spite of the alleged crime) because the Bush administration "needed Jane" to support their warrantless wiretapping program, which was soon to be revealed to the public by The New York Times.[16]

Harman denied the allegations, and called for the government to release the full transcript of the wire-tapped conversation, something they never did.[17] In June 2009, Harman received a letter from the Justice Department declaring her "neither a subject nor a target of an ongoing investigation by the Criminal Division." Though the espionage charges were later dropped on the two employees from AIPAC, against the wishes of the FBI, Harman did not become chair of the House intelligence committee.[18]

Political positions[edit]

Harman is on most issues a liberal, earning a 95% rating from the liberal group Americans for Democratic Action. On intelligence and defense issues, Ben Pershing described her as a centrist. For example, she was one of many Democrats who supported the Iraq War.[19] Harman has combined a moderate stance on economic, trade, and foreign policy issues with a more liberal stance on social issues. For instance, while voting with Republicans to restrict rules on personal bankruptcy, for lawsuit reform, and to abolish the estate tax—as well as on protecting those defense contractors with business interests in her congressional district—Harman voted against the ban on partial-birth abortions, lawsuits against gun manufacturers, the Defense of Marriage Act, and banning indecent broadcasting. Harmon's California Senate Bill 1264, signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, effective January 1, 2010, rendered most no-contest clauses unenforceable. The many loopholes in prior no-contest clauses caused more court confusion and expense.

Armenian Genocide[edit]

Harman was a co-sponsor of the Armenian Genocide recognition resolution bill in 2007. However, while still cosponsoring the bill, she wrote a letter to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Tom Lantos urging him to delay a floor vote on the legislation.[20] Her argument was that while the genocide deserved recognition, it was not a good time to embarrass Turkey, given that country's role in moderating extremism in the Middle East.[21]

Other activities[edit]

Harman is currently a member of the Defense Policy Board, the State Department Foreign Affairs Policy Board, the Director of National Intelligence’s Senior Advisory Group, and the Homeland Security Advisory Council. She was a member of the CIA External Advisory Board from 2011 to 2013. Harman is a Trustee of the Aspen Institute and the University of Southern California. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. She is also a member of the ReFormers Caucus of Issue One.[22]

Personal life[edit]

Harman's first marriage was to Richard Frank, in 1969, with whom she had two children.[23] Her second marriage was to audio pioneer and multi-millionaire Sidney Harman, who served from 1977 to 1979 as the Undersecretary of the Department of Commerce in the Carter administration before repurchasing the company he founded, Harman International Industries, and later taking it public.[24] She also had two children with him.[23] She has four grandchildren.

Asked in 2010 about a possible conflict of interest, Sidney Harman said: "We’ve been married for over 30 years. I’ve never told her how to run the government and she’s never told me how to run the business (Harman International). That’s absolutely fundamental to us."[25] He retired in 2008 from Harman Industries, purchased Newsweek Magazine in 2010, and founded the Academy for Polymathic Study at USC before he died in April 2011.[24] Harman maintains a residence in Venice Beach, California.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Harman to resign from House". Retrieved September 26, 2018.
  2. ^ "The Fix - Jane Harman to resign from Congress". Washington Post. February 7, 2011.
  3. ^ Current Women Members Archived May 9, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Wilgoren, Jodi (May 5, 1998). "Harman: A Focus for Her Ambitions". Los Angeles Times.
  5. ^ "jane harman". freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com. Retrieved September 26, 2018.
  6. ^ "Sophia Smith Collection - Jane Lakes Harman". smith.edu. Retrieved December 7, 2019.
  7. ^ "Jane Harman - Jewish Women's Archive". jwa.org. Retrieved September 26, 2018.
  8. ^ "Harman, Jane L. – Biographical Information". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. 2007. Retrieved August 31, 2008.
  9. ^ "Personality Glimpses". The Salinas Journal. June 2, 1978. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
  10. ^ a b "HARMAN, Jane L". Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  11. ^ Women in Congress, 1917-2006. Government Printing Office. September 26, 2018. ISBN 9780160767531. Retrieved September 26, 2018 – via Google Books.
  12. ^ Stone, Kurt F. (2010). The Jews of Capitol Hill: A Compendium of Jewish Congressional Members. p. 518. ISBN 9780810877382. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
  13. ^ Skelton, George (March 23, 1998). "California and the West: In the Ring, With Contenders for Governor". Los Angeles Times. p. 3. Retrieved June 23, 2013.
  14. ^ "Jane Harman's Wiretapped Conversations". The Washington Post. April 21, 2009. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  15. ^ "Major scandal erupts involving Rep. Jane Harman, Alberto Gonzales and AIPAC". Salon. April 20, 2009. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  16. ^ "The Danger of NSA Spying on Members of Congress". The Atlantic. January 6, 2014. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  17. ^ Herszenhorn, David M. (April 22, 2009). "Pelosi Now Remembers Harman Wiretap". The New York Times. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  18. ^ "Justice Department Not Targeting Harman". Roll Call. June 25, 2009. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  19. ^ "Pelosi, Harman Have Long History". The Washington Post. April 23, 2009. Retrieved April 25, 2009.
  20. ^ "House Rep. Flip-Flops On Armenian Genocide Stance". CBS. Associated Press. October 10, 2007.
  21. ^ Healey, John (October 5, 2007). "Harman flip-flops on Armenian genocide resolution". LA Times.
  22. ^ "Issue One – ReFormers Caucus".
  23. ^ a b Jane, Harman. "Jane Harman Papers, 1960-1998 (ongoing) (bulk 1993-1998) Finding Aid". asteria.fivecolleges.edu. Retrieved September 26, 2018.
  24. ^ a b Shapiro, Taylor (2011). Arts Patron, Industrialist Sidney Harman Dies At 92 The Washington Post. April 13, 2011.
  25. ^ Vega, Tanzina (2010). Audio Pioneer Buys Newsweek. The New York Times. August 2, 2010.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
George Brown
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 36th congressional district

Succeeded by
Steven Kuykendall
Preceded by
Steven Kuykendall
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 36th congressional district

Succeeded by
Janice Hahn
Academic offices
Preceded by
Lee Hamilton
President of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars