John Rutherford (Florida politician)

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John Rutherford
John Rutherford official photo.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 4th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2017
Preceded byAnder Crenshaw
Sheriff of Duval County, Florida
In office
July 1, 2003 – July 1, 2015
Preceded byNat Glover
Succeeded byMike Williams
Personal details
John Henry Rutherford

(1952-09-02) September 2, 1952 (age 68)
Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Patricia Rutherford
(m. 1972)
EducationFlorida State College at Jacksonville (AS)
Florida State University (BS)
WebsiteHouse website

John Henry Rutherford (/ˈrʌðərfərd/; born September 2, 1952) is an American politician and former sheriff who is currently serving in the United States House of Representatives for Florida's 4th congressional district, which encompasses most of Jacksonville and most of its suburbs in Nassau and St. Johns counties, including St. Augustine. He was an officer with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office before serving as the Duval County Sheriff from 2003 to 2015. He is a member of the Republican Party.

Early life and education[edit]

John Rutherford was born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1952.[1] Rutherford's father was in the US Navy and was serving in Korea at the time of his son's birth. In the 1950s, Rutherford's family moved to Jacksonville, Florida. He worked as a grocery stock clerk after graduating from high school. He surfed in his free time.[2] In 1972, he earned his Associate of Science in criminology from Florida State College at Jacksonville, formerly Florida Junior College, followed by his Bachelor of Science in criminology from Florida State University in 1974.[1]

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office[edit]

Rutherford as Jacksonville sheriff

Rutherford joined the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office in 1974 and rose to the rank of Captain. He has commanded a number of divisions, including Arson, Burglary, the Police Academy and Patrol on the Southside. He also served as Chief of Services, Traffic and Special Operations, and Chief of Patrol.[3]

In 1995, Rutherford was appointed as Director of Corrections under then-Sheriff Nat Glover and held that title for 8 years.[citation needed]

Rutherford ran for the office of Jacksonville Sheriff in 2003. A candidate for the Jacksonville City Council filed a complaint against Rutherford in February, alleging violations of the Federal Hatch Act of 1939, which prohibits employees working for federally funded agencies from running for office in partisan elections. Rutherford consulted a lawyer, and was told there was no conflict, but retired anyway, in order to remove any doubt, with 28 years of service.[4] Rutherford subsequently won the election, becoming the Sheriff of Jacksonville on July 1, 2003.

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

Rutherford meeting with Vice President Mike Pence on board Air Force Two, March 2017



Rutherford announced his candidacy for Florida's 4th congressional district on April 15, 2016.[5] Originally he announced he would run for Florida's 6th congressional district in 2015.[6] On August 30, 2016, he won the Republican primary with 38.7% of the vote, beating Lake Ray, Hans Tanzler III and Bill McClure.[7] He faced David Bruderly in the general election and won, becoming only the fifth person to represent this district since its creation in 1943 (it was the 2nd District from 1943 to 1967, the 3rd District from 1967 to 1993, and has been the 4th since 1993).


On January 11, 2017, Rutherford collapsed on the floor of the House, in what was described as an "acute digestive flare up".[8] [9][10] He was taken to the hospital, and was released January 21.[11][12]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus memberships[edit]

Political positions[edit]

Gun policy[edit]

Rutherford supports concealed carry reciprocity, voting for two such measures in the House in November 2017.[15]

In 2017, Rutherford signed a letter to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives expressing his support for legislation to ban bump stocks.[16] From 2015 to 2016, Rutherford received $1,000 in campaign donations from the NRA's Political Victory Fund.[17]

In 2018, Rutherford sponsored a bill to "strengthen school safety and security", which required a two-thirds vote for passage, as it was brought up under an expedited process. The House voted 407-10 to approve the bill, which would provide $50 million a year for "a new federal grant program to train students, teachers and law enforcement on how to spot and report signs of gun violence". Named STOP (Students, Teachers, and Officers Preventing) School Violence Act, it would "develop anonymous telephone and online systems where people could report threats of violence." At the same time, it would authorize $25 million for schools to "improve and harden their security, such as installing new locks, lights, metal detectors and panic buttons." A separate spending bill would be required to provide money for the grant program.[18]

Federal budget[edit]

Rutherford supports a balanced budget amendment and wants to see a smaller federal government, an end to corporate welfare, and "out-of-control" federal regulatory overreach. He also wants to see a stop to new spending until the budget is balanced.[19]

Human rights[edit]

Rutherford supports efforts regarding LGBT rights and says "I don't believe that anyone should be discriminated against because of who they are or whom they love." He believes that the federal government has a duty to implement "careful...non-discriminatory operations" including protections for LGBT people.[19] However, he voted against the Equality Act in 2019.[20]

Social issues[edit]


Rutherford is against legalizing marijuana. He voted against medicinal marijuana legalization in Florida in 2014, believing after legalizing medical marijuana recreational marijuana would be next.[1]


Rutherford is "skeptical" of shorter prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenses.[1]

He authored the Students, Teachers and Officers Prevent (STOP) School Violence Act, that would "authorize $50 million a year in new federal grants to help educate students, faculty and law enforcement learn how to spot and report warning signs of potential gun violence." As of March 2018, he reportedly has been "pressing leadership and appropriators" to include said funding for the bipartisan bill (it has more than 75 co-sponsors) in the omnibus spending bill.[21]

Immigration and refugees[edit]

Rutherford supports increased border security and immigration reform. He calls "immigration the lifeblood of American history." He says "ignoring illegal immigration is foolish, dangerous, and erodes public and international confidence in our rule of law." He supports providing avenues to enable immigrants and refugees to move to America, including using E-Verify. Rutherford wants the federal government to invest funding to communities to assist with refugee relocations.[19]

Tax reform[edit]

Rutherford voted in favor of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.[22] Rutherford claims that new tax plan will benefit "hardworking Americans" and that it is "a good thing for taxpayers, it’s a good thing for business, it’s gunna be great for our economy."[23]

Texas v. Pennsylvania[edit]

In December 2020, Rutherford was one of 126 Republican members of the House of Representatives who signed an amicus brief in support of Texas v. Pennsylvania, a lawsuit filed at the United States Supreme Court contesting the results of the 2020 presidential election, in which Joe Biden prevailed[24] over incumbent Donald Trump. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case on the basis that Texas lacked standing under Article III of the Constitution to challenge the results of the election held by another state.[25][26][27]

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement that called signing the amicus brief an act of "election subversion." Additionally, Pelosi reprimanded Rutherford and the other House members who supported the lawsuit: "The 126 Republican Members that signed onto this lawsuit brought dishonor to the House. Instead of upholding their oath to support and defend the Constitution, they chose to subvert the Constitution and undermine public trust in our sacred democratic institutions."[28][29] New Jersey Representative Bill Pascrell, citing section three of the 14th Amendment, called for Pelosi to not seat Rutherford and the other Republicans who signed the brief supporting the suit. Pascrell argued that "the text of the 14th Amendment expressly forbids Members of Congress from engaging in rebellion against the United States. Trying to overturn a democratic election and install a dictator seems like a pretty clear example of that."[30]

Offshore drilling[edit]

Rutherford opposes offshore drilling on the Atlantic coast.[31] Rutherford joined former Democrat Jeff Van Drew to introduce the Atlantic Coastal Economies Protection Act, which would prohibit seismic air gun testing in the Atlantic Ocean.[32]


Rutherford campaigned for Duval County sheriff, running against fellow Republicans David Anderson and Lem Sharp. In the election on April 15, 2003, Rutherford won 135,038 votes, 78 percent of the total. He took office on July 1, 2003. Rutherford was re-elected in 2007[33] and 2011.[34]

On August 30, 2016, he won the Republican Primary for Florida's 4th Congressional District.[35]

2016 Florida 4th Congressional District Republican Primary Results[36]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican John Rutherford 38,688 38.7%
Republican Lake Ray 20,111 20.1%
Republican Hans Tanzler III 18,999 19.0%
Republican Bill McClure 9,854 9.8%
Republican Edward Malin 7,879 7.9%
Republican Stephen Kaufman 2,413 2.4%
Republican Deborah Katz Pueschel 2,137 2.1%
Total votes 100,081 100

Personal life[edit]

Rutherford is married to his wife, Patricia, and has two children.[37][1] Rutherford is Catholic.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "2016 Guide to the New Congress" (PDF). CQ Magazine. 4 (32): 30. November 10, 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 24, 2018. Retrieved December 22, 2017.
  2. ^ Treen, Dana. "Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford saying farewell after 41 years of service". Florida Times-Union. Retrieved December 22, 2017.
  3. ^ Mitchell, Tia. "Veteran cop Rutherford has vision for Sheriff's Office -".
  4. ^ Mitchell, Tia. "Candidates accused of violating law -".
  5. ^ "Former Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford runs for U.S. Rep. Crenshaw's seat".
  6. ^ "Sheriff John Rutherford confirms he's running for Ron DeSantis seat - Florida Politics".
  7. ^ "Florida Election Results 2016: House Live Map by District, Real-Time Voting Updates". Election Hub.
  8. ^ "Florida congressman taken from Capitol on stretcher". Associated Press.
  9. ^ Cheney, Kyle; Bresnahan, John (January 11, 2017). "Fla. lawmaker taken from Capitol on stretcher". Politico. Retrieved March 19, 2017.
  10. ^ Wong, Scott (January 11, 2017). "Congressman collapses in House cloakroom". The Hill. Retrieved January 11, 2017.
  11. ^ Rahman, Rema (January 19, 2017). "John Rutherford Continues Recuperation". Roll Call. Retrieved March 19, 2017.
  12. ^ "Congressman John Rutherford has been released from the hospital". WTLV First Coast News. January 22, 2017. Retrieved March 19, 2017.
  13. ^ "Members". Republican Mains Street Partnership. Archived from the original on August 26, 2018. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
  14. ^ "Members". Congressional NextGen 9-1-1 Caucus. Retrieved June 14, 2018.
  15. ^ "Rep. Rutherford: Constitutional Right to Bear Arms Should Not Stop at State Lines". U. S. Representative John Rutherford. US Federal Government. November 30, 2017. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  16. ^ Dean, Ed (October 9, 2017). "Jacksonville Congressman John Rutherford vs. The National Rifle Association????". WBOB. CP Broadcasting. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  17. ^ Grinberg, Emanuella (February 21, 2018). "These Florida lawmakers accepted money from the National Rifle Association". CNN. Atlanta. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  18. ^ Zanona, Melanie. "House passes school safety bill amid gun protests". The Hill. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  19. ^ a b c "Rutherford, Bruderly and Koniz bios and questionnaires". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved December 22, 2017.
  20. ^
  21. ^ Wong, Scott. "Five things lawmakers want attached to the $1 trillion funding bill". The Hill. Retrieved March 10, 2018.
  22. ^ Almukhtar, Sarah (December 19, 2017). "How Each House Member Voted on the Tax Bill". The New York Times. Retrieved December 22, 2017.
  23. ^ Brown, Stephanie. "Northeast Florida lawmakers divided on impact of tax reform plan | Depend On WOKV - Jacksonville's News, Weather, and Traffic |". WOKV Radio. Retrieved December 22, 2017.
  24. ^ Blood, Michael R.; Riccardi, Nicholas (December 5, 2020). "Biden officially secures enough electors to become president". AP News. Archived from the original on December 8, 2020. Retrieved December 12, 2020.
  25. ^ Liptak, Adam (December 11, 2020). "Supreme Court Rejects Texas Suit Seeking to Subvert Election". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on December 11, 2020. Retrieved December 12, 2020.
  26. ^ "Order in Pending Case" (PDF). Supreme Court of the United States. December 11, 2020. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 11, 2020. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  27. ^ Diaz, Daniella. "Brief from 126 Republicans supporting Texas lawsuit in Supreme Court". CNN. Archived from the original on December 12, 2020. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  28. ^ Smith, David (December 12, 2020). "Supreme court rejects Trump-backed Texas lawsuit aiming to overturn election results". The Guardian. Retrieved December 13, 2020.
  29. ^ "Pelosi Statement on Supreme Court Rejecting GOP Election Sabotage Lawsuit" (Press release). Speaker Nancy Pelosi. December 11, 2020. Retrieved December 13, 2020.
  30. ^ Williams, Jordan (December 11, 2020). "Democrat asks Pelosi to refuse to seat lawmakers supporting Trump's election challenges". TheHill. Archived from the original on December 12, 2020. Retrieved December 12, 2020.
  31. ^ "NRDC Tool Reveals Florida Delegation's Stances on Offshore Drilling". National Resources Defense Council. August 15, 2018. Retrieved February 13, 2019.
  32. ^ Brunetti Post, Michelle (February 11, 2019). "Van Drew introduces bill to ban seismic testing in Atlantic". Press of Atlantic City. Retrieved February 13, 2019.
  33. ^ Times-Union, The. "DUVAL COUNTY SHERIFF: Rutherford is slow, on track -".
  34. ^ Treen, Dana: "John Rutherford wins re-election as Jacksonville sheriff" Florida Times-Union, March 22, 2011
  35. ^ "John Rutherford wins CD 4 primary - Florida Politics".
  36. ^ "2016 Election Results: House Live Map by State, Real-Time Voting Updates". Election Hub.
  37. ^ Winkle, Amanda (January 13, 2017). "U.S. Rep., former Jacksonville sheriff John Rutherford taken from U.S. Capitol on stretcher". WJAX. Retrieved December 22, 2017.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Ander Crenshaw
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 4th congressional district

U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Jamie Raskin
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Lloyd Smucker