|United States Senator
from West Virginia
January 15, 1985 – January 3, 2015
|Preceded by||Jennings Randolph|
|Succeeded by||Shelley Moore Capito|
|Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee|
January 3, 2009 – January 3, 2015
|Preceded by||Daniel Inouye|
|Succeeded by||John Thune|
|Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee|
January 3, 2007 – January 3, 2009
|Preceded by||Pat Roberts|
|Succeeded by||Dianne Feinstein|
|Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee|
June 6, 2001 – January 3, 2003
|Preceded by||Arlen Specter|
|Succeeded by||Arlen Specter|
January 3, 2001 – January 20, 2001
|Preceded by||Arlen Specter|
|Succeeded by||Arlen Specter|
January 3, 1993 – January 3, 1995
|Preceded by||Alan Cranston|
|Succeeded by||Alan K. Simpson|
|29th Governor of West Virginia|
January 17, 1977 – January 14, 1985
|Preceded by||Arch A. Moore, Jr.|
|Succeeded by||Arch A. Moore, Jr.|
|22nd Secretary of State of West Virginia|
January 13, 1969 – January 15, 1973
|Governor||Arch A. Moore, Jr.|
|Preceded by||Robert D. Bailey, Jr.|
|Succeeded by||Edgar Heiskell|
|Member of the West Virginia House of Delegates|
|Born||John Davison Rockefeller IV
June 18, 1937
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Political party||Democratic (1966–present)|
|Republican (Before 1966)|
|Spouse(s)||Sharon Percy (1967–present)|
|Children||John V, Valerie, Charles, and Justin|
|Alma mater||Harvard University
International Christian University
|Religion||Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)|
John Davison "Jay" Rockefeller IV (born June 18, 1937) served as a United States Senator from West Virginia from 1985 to 2015. He was first elected to the Senate in 1984, while in office as Governor of West Virginia, a position he held from 1977 to 1985. Rockefeller moved to Emmons, West Virginia to serve as a VISTA worker in 1964, and was first elected to public office in the state, as a member of the House of Delegates, in 1966. Rockefeller was later elected West Virginia Secretary of State in 1968 and was president of West Virginia Wesleyan College from 1973 to 1975. He became the state's senior senator when the long serving Sen. Robert Byrd died in June 2010.
As a great-grandson of oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller, he was the only serving politician of the prominent six-generation Rockefeller family during his tenure in the United States Senate and the only one to have held office as a Democrat in what has been a traditionally Republican dynasty, though he too was originally a Republican until he decided to run for office in what was then a strictly Democratic state. Rockefeller did not seek reelection in 2014.
- 1 Early life
- 2 State politics
- 3 U.S. Senate tenure
- 4 Political positions
- 5 Electoral history
- 6 Awards and decorations
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
John Davison Rockefeller IV was born at New York Hospital in New York City, to John Davison Rockefeller III (1906—1978) and Blanchette Ferry Hooker (1909—1992), 26 days after the death of his patrilineal great-grandfather, John Davison Rockefeller Sr. (1839—1937). Jay graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in 1955. After his junior year at Harvard College, he spent three years studying Japanese at the International Christian University in Tokyo. He graduated from Harvard in 1961 with an A.B. in Far Eastern Languages and History. He attended Yale University and did graduate work in Oriental studies and studied the Chinese language, but never finished the program.
After college, Rockefeller worked for the Peace Corps in Washington, D.C., under President John F. Kennedy, where he developed a friendship with Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and worked as an assistant to Peace Corps Director Sargent Shriver. He served as the Operations Director for the Corps' largest overseas program, in the Philippines. He worked for a brief time in the United States Department of Far Eastern Affairs. He continued his public service in 1964–1965 in the Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), under President Lyndon B. Johnson, during which time he moved to Emmons, West Virginia.
Rockefeller, along with his son Charles, is a Trustee of New York's Asia Society, which was established by his father in 1956. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a nonprofit think tank previously chaired by his uncle, David Rockefeller. As a Senator, he voted against the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement, which was heavily backed by David Rockefeller.
Since 1967, Rockefeller has been married to the former Sharon Lee Percy, the Chief Executive Officer of WETA-TV, the leading PBS station in the Washington, D.C., area, which broadcasts such programs as PBS NewsHour and Washington Week. She is a twin daughter of Senator Charles Harting Percy (1919—2011) and Jeanne Valerie Dickerson.
Jay and Sharon have four children:
- John Davison "Jamie" Rockefeller V (born 1969)
- Valerie Rockefeller
- Charles Rockefeller
- Justin Aldrich Rockefeller (born 1979)
Jamie's wife, Emily, is the daughter of former National Football League (NFL) Commissioner Paul Tagliabue; John Davison Rockefeller VI was born to them on August 29, 2007. Before John VI's birth, they had two daughters, Laura Chandler Rockefeller (born c. 2000) and Sophia Percy Rockefeller (born c. 2002).
The Rockefellers reside in Northwest Washington, D.C., and maintain permanent residence in Charleston, West Virginia. They have a ranch in the Grand Teton National Park in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. President Bill Clinton, a friend of Rockefeller's, and the Clinton family vacationed at the ranch in August 1995.
Rockefeller is related to several Republican Party supporters and former officeholders: His paternal grandmother Abigail Greene "Abby" Aldrich (1874—1948) was a daughter of Rhode Island Senator Nelson Wilmarth Aldrich (1841—1915). John Davison Rockefeller, Jr. (1874—1960) and Abby's youngest son was banker David Rockefeller (1915—2017). David's brother Winthrop Aldrich Rockefeller (1912—1973) served as Governor of Arkansas from 1967 to 1971. Winthrop and David's brother Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller (1908—1979) served as Governor of New York from 1959 to 1973 and as Vice President of the United States under Gerald Ford (1974—1977). Jay is also a first cousin of Arkansas Lt. Governor Winthrop Paul Rockefeller (1948—2006).
He was elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates in 1966, and to the office of West Virginia Secretary of State in 1968. He won the Democratic nomination for governor in 1972, but was defeated in the general election by the Republican incumbent Governor Arch A. Moore, Jr.. Rockefeller then served as president of West Virginia Wesleyan College from 1973 to 1975.
Rockefeller was elected Governor of West Virginia in 1976 and re-elected in 1980. He served as governor when manufacturing plants and coal mines were closing as the national recession of the early 1980s hit West Virginia particularly hard. Between 1982 and 1984, West Virginia's unemployment rate hovered between 15 and 20 percent.
U.S. Senate tenure
In 1984, he was elected to the United States Senate, narrowly defeating businessman John Raese as Ronald Reagan easily carried the state in the presidential election. As in his 1980 gubernatorial campaign against Arch Moore, Rockefeller spent over $12 million to win a Senate seat. Rockefeller was re-elected in 1990, 1996, 2002 and 2008 by substantial margins. He was chair of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs (1993–1995; January 3 to 20, 2001; and June 6, 2001 – January 3, 2003). Rockefeller was the chair of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation (2009–2015).
In April 1992, he was the Democratic Party's finance chairman and considered running for the presidency, but pulled out after consulting with friends and advisers. He went on to strongly endorse Clinton as the Democratic candidate.
In 1993, Rockefeller became the principal Senate supporter, with Ted Kennedy, behind Bill and Hillary Clinton's sweeping health care reform package, liaising closely with the First Lady, opening up his mansion next to Rock Creek Park for its first strategy meeting. The reform was subsequently defeated by an alliance between the Business Roundtable and a small-business coalition.
In 2002, Rockefeller made an official visit to several Middle Eastern countries, during which he discussed his personal views regarding United States military intentions with the leaders of those countries. In October of that year, Rockefeller strongly expressed his concern for Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction program while addressing the U.S. Senate:
There has been some debate over how "imminent" a threat Iraq poses. I do believe that Iraq poses an imminent threat, but I also believe that after September 11, that question is increasingly outdated. It is in the nature of these weapons, and the way they are targeted against civilian populations, that documented capability and demonstrated intent may be the only warning we get. To insist on further evidence could put some of our fellow Americans at risk. Can we afford to take that chance? We cannot!
In November 2005 during a TV interview, Rockefeller stated, "I took a trip [.....] in January 2002 to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria, and I told each of the heads of state that it was my view that George Bush had already made up his mind to go to war against Iraq, that that was a predetermined set course that had taken shape shortly after 9/11."
Rockefeller noted that the comment expresses his personal opinion, and that he was not privy to any confidential information that such action was planned. On October 11, 2002, he was one of 77 Senators who voted for the Iraq Resolution authorizing the Iraq invasion.
In February 2010, regarding President Obama, Rockefeller said, "He says 'I'm for clean coal,' and then he says it in his speeches, but he doesn't say it in here [.....] And he doesn't say it in the minds of my own people. And he's beginning to not be believable to me."
Rockefeller faced criticism from West Virginia coal companies, which claimed that he was out of touch.
In July 2011 Rockefeller was prominent in calling for U.S. agencies to investigate whether alleged phone hacking at News Corporation's newspapers in the United Kingdom had targeted American victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Rockefeller and Barbara Boxer subsequently wrote to the oversight committee of Dow Jones & Company (a subsidiary of News Corporation) to request that it conduct an investigation into the hiring of former CEO Les Hinton, and whether any current or former executives had knowledge of or played a role in phone hacking.
In November 2014, Rockefeller donated his senatorial archives to the West Virginia University Libraries and the West Virginia & Regional History Center. The archival collection documents his 30-year career in the United States Senate.
Rockefeller served on the following committees in the 112th Congress:
- Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation (Chairman)
- As chair of the full committee, Sen. Rockefeller may serve as an ex officio member of all subcommittees
- Committee on Finance
- Select Committee on Intelligence
- Committee on Veterans' Affairs
- Joint Committee on Taxation
Rockefeller initially supported the use of force based upon the evidence presented by the intelligence community that linked Iraq to nuclear ambitions. After the Niger uranium forgeries, in which the Bush administration gave forged documents to U.N. weapons inspectors to support allegations against Iraq, Rockefeller started an investigation into the falsification and exaggeration of evidence for the war. Through the investigations, he became an outspoken critic of Bush and the Iraq war. As chair of the Intelligence committee, he presided over a critical report on the Administration's handling of intelligence and war operations.
Rockefeller and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released the final two pieces of the Phase II report on Iraq war intelligence on June 5, 2008. Senator Rockefeller said, "The president and his advisers undertook a relentless public campaign in the aftermath of the attacks to use the war against Al Qaeda as a justification for overthrowing Saddam Hussein."
In July 2007, Rockefeller announced that he planned to introduce legislation before the August Congressional recess that would give the FCC the power to regulate TV violence. According to the edition of July 16, 2007 of Broadcasting & Cable, the new law would apply to both broadcast as well as cable and satellite programming. This would mark the first time that the FCC would be given power to regulate such a vast spectrum of content, which would include almost everything except material produced strictly for direct internet use. An aide to the senator said that his staff had also been carefully formulating the bill in such a way that it would be able to pass constitutional scrutiny by the courts.
In 2007, Rockefeller began steering the Senate Intelligence Committee to grant retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies who were accused of unlawfully assisting the National Security Agency (NSA) in monitoring the communications of American citizens (see Hepting v. AT&T).
This was an about-face of sorts for Senator Rockefeller, who had hand-written a letter to Vice President Cheney in 2003 expressing his concerns about the legality of NSA's warrantless wire-tapping program. Some have attributed this change of heart to the spike in contributions from telecommunications companies to the senator just as these companies began lobbying Congress to protect them from lawsuits regarding their cooperation with the NSA.
Between 2001 and the start of this lobbying effort, AT&T employees had contributed only $300 to the senator. After the lobbying effort began, AT&T employees and executives donated $19,350 in three months. The senator has pledged not to rely on his vast fortune to fund his campaigns, and the AT&T contributions represent about 2% of the money he raised during the previous year.
Though publicly deploring torture, Rockefeller was one of two Congressional Democrats briefed on waterboarding and other secret CIA practices in the early years of the Bush Administration, as well as the existence of taped evidence of such interrogations (later destroyed). In December 2007, Rockefeller opposed a special counsel or commission inquiry into the destruction of the tapes, stating "it is the job of the intelligence committees to do that."
On September 28, 2006, Rockefeller voted with a largely Republican majority to suspend habeas corpus provisions for anyone deemed by the Executive Branch an "unlawful combatant," barring them from challenging their detentions in court. Rockefeller's vote gave a retroactive, nine-year immunity to U.S. officials who authorized, ordered, or committed acts of torture and abuse, permitting the use of statements obtained through torture to be used in military tribunals so long as the abuse took place by December 30, 2005. Rockefeller's vote authorized the President to establish permissible interrogation techniques and to "interpret the meaning and application" of international Geneva Convention standards, so long as the coercion fell short of "serious" bodily or psychological injury. The bill became law on October 17, 2006.
2008 presidential election
On February 29, 2008, he endorsed Barack Obama for President of the United States, citing Obama's judgment on the Iraq war and national security issues, and calling him the right candidate to lead America during a time of instability at home and abroad. This endorsement stood in stark contrast to the results of the state primary that was easily won by Hillary Clinton.
“McCain was a fighter pilot, who dropped laser-guided missiles from 35,000 feet. He was long gone when they hit. What happened when they get to the ground? He doesn’t know. You have to care about the lives of people. McCain never gets into those issues.”
The McCain campaign called for an apology from Senator Rockefeller and for Barack Obama, whom Rockefeller endorsed, to denounce the comment. Rockefeller later apologized for the comment and the Obama campaign issued a statement expressing Obama's disagreement with the comment. Senator Lindsey Graham (R) of South Carolina noted that "John didn't drop bombs from 35,000 feet....the bombs were not laser guided (in the 1960 and 1970s)".
On April 1, 2009, Rockefeller introduced the Cybersecurity Act of 2009 - S.773 (full text) before Congress. Citing the vulnerability of the Internet to cyber-attacks, the bill makes provisions to turn the Department of Commerce into a public-private clearing house to share potential threat information with the owners of large private networks. It authorizes the Secretary of Commerce to sequester any information deemed necessary, without regard to any law.
It also authorizes the president to declare an undefined "cyber-emergency" which allows him to shut down any and all traffic to what he considers to be a compromised server.
On June 1, 2011, Rockefeller sponsored the fourth West Virginia Homeland Security Summit and Expo. The event ran two days and focused on homeland security with Rockefeller emphasizing cybersecurity.
In 1997, Rockefeller co-authored the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) – a program aimed at giving low-income children health insurance coverage. Annually, CHIP has been successfully covering about 6 million children, who otherwise would have been uninsured. On September 30, 2007, the program expired, requiring Congress to reauthorize the legislation. On August 2, 2007, the vote for reauthorization passed legislation by a strong, bipartisan vote (68-31).
Recognizing the importance of long-term care for the nation's veterans, Rockefeller authored successful legislation that required the Department of Veterans Affairs, for the first time, to provide a wide range of extended care services—such as home health care, adult day care, respite care, and hospice care—to veterans who use the VA health care system.
Rockefeller is also a strong supporter of the fight against Alzheimer's and neurological disease. The Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute (BRNI) was founded in Morgantown in 1999 by Rockefeller and his family to help advance medical and scientific understanding of Alzheimer's and other diseases of the brain. BRNI is the world's only non-profit institute dedicated exclusively to the study of both human memory and diseases of memory. Its primary mission is to accelerate neurological discoveries from the lab, including diagnostic tools and treatments, to the clinic to benefit patients who suffer from neurological and psychiatric diseases. A $30 million state-of-the-art BRNI research facility was opened at West Virginia University in Fall 2008. The approximately 80,000 square feet (7,400 m2) three-level building will house 100 scientists by 2012.
On Healthcare Reform, Rockefeller has been a proponent of a public option, fighting with some Democrats on the finance committee, in particular Max Baucus, the chairman of the committee, who contended that there was not enough support for a public option to gather the 60 votes needed to prevent a filibuster. Baucus asked repeatedly for Rockefeller to stop speaking on the issue.
On September 29, 2009 Rockefeller offered an amendment to the Baucus Health Bill in the Senate Finance Committee to add a public option. The amendment was rejected 15 to 8, with five Democrats (Baucus, Kent Conrad, Blanche Lincoln, Tom Carper, Bill Nelson) and all Republicans voting no.
Rockefeller supported President Barack Obama's health reform legislation; he voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in December 2009, and he voted for the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.
Awards and decorations
- Rockefeller family
- David Rockefeller
- US Senate Report on chemical weapons Rockefeller chaired this committee.
- 2005 CIA interrogation tapes destruction
- Only Democrat in a staunchly Republican dynasty – see John Ensor Harr and Peter J. Johnson, The Rockefeller Century: Three Generations of America's Greatest Family, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1988. (p.394)
- Weiner, Rachel (January 11, 2013). "Jay Rockefeller won't run in 2014". Washington Post. Retrieved September 21, 2013.
- Neuhaus, Cable; Carlson, Peter (July 4, 1983). "Jay Rockefeller". People. Retrieved September 23, 2014.
- "ROCKEFELLER TO ACCOMPANY CLINTON TO CHINA". rockefeller.senate.gov. June 19, 1998. Retrieved September 23, 2014.
- "John Davison Rockefeller, IV". West Virginia Division of Culture and History. Retrieved September 23, 2014.
- Comins, Linda (September 15, 2007). "Rockefellers Welcome Their First Grandson". Wheeling New-Register.
- Brozan, Nadine (July 12, 1995). "Chronicle". Jackson Hole (Wyo): New York Times. Retrieved July 13, 2010.
- R. W. Apple Jr. (April 10, 1992). "THE 1992 CAMPAIGN: The Front-Runner; Like Voters, Superdelegates Have Doubts About Clinton". New York Times. Retrieved July 13, 2010.
- The Clintons and health care reform – see Haynes Johnson & David S. Broder, The System: The American Way of Politics at the Breaking Point, Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1996. (pp.32–34,50,227)
- "Statement of Senator John D. Rockefeller IV on the Senate Floor On the Iraq Resolution". senate.gov. October 10, 2002. Archived from the original on December 3, 2003.[ ]
- "Transcript: Sens. Roberts, Rockefeller on 'FNS' - FOX News Sunday | Chris Wallace". FOXNews.com. November 14, 2005. Retrieved July 13, 2010.
- Raby, John; Smith, Vicki (January 11, 2013). "Jay Rockefeller Retiring: West Virginia Senator Won't Run Again When Term Ends In 2014". Huffington Post. Retrieved August 15, 2014.
- Palazzo, Anthony (July 13, 2011). "Sen. Jay Rockefeller Seeks U.S. Agency Probes of News Corp. Phone Hacking". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved July 23, 2011.
- Blackden, Richard (July 17, 2011). "Phone hacking: Rupert Murdoch's US woes develop legs". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved July 23, 2011.
- Spillius, Alex (July 21, 2011). "Phone hacking: US senators increase pressure on Les Hinton". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved July 23, 2011.
- "Senators Call for Dow Jones Inquiry". Reuters. July 20, 2011. Retrieved July 23, 2011.
- Parnass, Sarah (March 25, 2013). "Senators Abandon 'Discriminatory' DOMA Before Supreme Court Arguments". abcnews.go.com. ABC News. Retrieved September 21, 2013.
- "WVU announces new school, gallery honoring Jay Rockefeller as his senatorial archives find 'forever home'". WVU Today. West Virginia University. Retrieved April 7, 2016.
- "Jay Rockefeller". West Virginia & Regional History Center. West Virginia University Libraries. Retrieved April 7, 2016.
- "Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)". Rockefeller.senate.gov. Retrieved July 13, 2010.
- Bush Overstated Iraq Evidence, Senators Report - NYTimes.com
- "Senate panel OKs spy measure". Latimes.com. Los Angeles Times. October 19, 2007. Retrieved September 21, 2013.
- Singel, Ryan (October 18, 2007). "Democratic Lawmaker Pushing Immunity Is Newly Flush With Telco Cash". Threat Level from Wired.com (blog). wired.com. Retrieved July 13, 2010.
- "Election 2008". Hosted.ap.org. Archived from the original on December 10, 2008. Retrieved July 13, 2010.
- "Chairman Rockefeller Statement on the CIA Decision to Destroy Tapes of Early Detainee Interrogations". U.S. Senate website. December 6, 2007. Archived from the original on December 13, 2007. Retrieved December 11, 2007.
- Calvin Woodward (December 10, 2007). "White House Stays Quiet on CIA Tapes". Associated Press. Retrieved December 10, 2007.[dead link]
- William Neikirk; Andrew Zajac; Mark Silva (September 29, 2006). "Tribunal bill OKd by Senate". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 29, 2006.
- Zernike, Kate (September 28, 2006). "Senate Passes Broad New Detainee Rules". New York Times. Retrieved December 10, 2007.
- Anne Plummer Flaherty (September 28, 2006). "Senate OKs detainee interrogation bill". Associated Press. Retrieved September 29, 2006.[dead link]
- "Jay Defends Endorsement of Sen. Obama" Charleston (WV) Gazette, 2008-04-08. wvgazette.com. (fee required).
- "Rockefeller Apologizes for McCain Remark" FoxNews.com (AP) 2008-04-08. Retrieved 2010-11-22.
- "Rockefeller apologizes to McCain over Vietnam service comment". Register-herald.com, Beckley WV. April 8, 2008. Retrieved November 22, 2010.
- After Rockefeller Insult, McCain Camp Claims Obama Won’t Shut Down Campaign Smears - America’s Election HQ Archived April 9, 2008, on Wayback Machine.
- Senator John D. Rockefeller (April 1, 2009). "Cybersecurity Act of 2009 Sec. 14". Library of congress. Retrieved June 15, 2009.
- Senator John D. Rockefeller (April 1, 2009). "Cybersecurity Act of 2009 Sec. 18". Library of congress. Retrieved June 15, 2009.
- Homeland Security a Major Focus for Agencies Across W.Va.
- Dana Milbank (September 30, 2009). "Washington Sketch: Democratic Fratricide Begins". Washington Post. Retrieved September 30, 2009.
- Pear, Robert; Jackie Calmes (September 29, 2009). "Senators Reject Pair of Public Option Proposals". New York Times. Retrieved October 1, 2009.
- "U.S. Senate Roll Call Vote, H.R. 3950". senate.gov. December 24, 2009. Retrieved September 21, 2013.
- "U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote". Senate.gov. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
- Jay Rockefeller: Old Money, New Politics, Richard Grimes, Parsons, West Virginia: McClain Printing Company, 1984.
- The System: The American Way of Politics at the Breaking Point, Haynes Johnson and David S. Broder, Boston: Little Brown and Company, 1996. (Significant mention)
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Profile at Project Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Legislation sponsored at The Library of Congress
- Biography at West Virginia Archives and History
- Biography at the Peace Corps
- Senator Outlines Plans For Intelligence Panel Rockefeller's agenda on becoming chairman in January 2007.