|Member of the|
U.S. House of Representatives
|Assumed office |
January 3, 2017
|Preceded by||Ander Crenshaw|
|Constituency||4th district (2017–2023)|
5th district (2023–present)
|Sheriff of Duval County, Florida|
July 1, 2003 – July 1, 2015
|Preceded by||Nat Glover|
|Succeeded by||Mike Williams|
John Henry Rutherford
September 2, 1952
Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.
|Education||Florida State College at Jacksonville (AS)|
Florida State University (BS)
John Henry Rutherford (//; born September 2, 1952) is an American politician and former police officer serving as the U.S. Representative from Florida's 5th congressional district since 2017. His district encompasses most of Jacksonville and most of its suburbs in Nassau and St. Johns counties, including St. Augustine.
Rutherford was an officer with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office for four decades, before being elected Duval County sheriff in 2003; he remained in that post until 2015. In 2016, he ran for the House of Representatives in what was at the time Florida's 4th congressional district. He won the election and was reelected in 2018, 2020, and 2022. Rutherford is a Republican.
Early life and education
John Rutherford was born in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1952. His father was in the U.S. 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 graduated from Nathan Bedford Forest High School in 1970. He surfed in his free time. 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.
Jacksonville Sheriff's Office
Rutherford spent 41 years at the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, first as a sheriff's deputy and for the final 12 years as the elected sheriff. He joined the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office in 1974 as a patrolman. He was promoted to sergeant in 1980 and ultimately rose to the rank of captain. At various points, he commanded the Arson and Burglary divisions, led the Police Academy, and led patrol units on the Southside. He was also Chief of Services, Traffic and Special Operations, and Chief of Patrol. He was appointed director of corrections in 1995 by then-Sheriff Nat Glover. In that role, he was responsible for overseeing the jail.
Rutherford ran for 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 said that a lawyer had told him there was no conflict, but he retired in March 2003 anyway, in order to remove any doubt, with 28 years of service.
The Florida Times-Union reported in 2015, "Supporters and even those who criticize him say Rutherford has been steadfast and unwavering in his faith and his convictions as a lawman, a trait some say has brought success while others say is to his detriment." Rutherford's tenure was marked by rises and falls in crime: from 2002 to 2005, Jacksonville suffered an increase in murder and other violent crime; murders briefly declined in 2005, but then rose again each year until 2008, when another decline began. In 2007, the Florida Times-Union endorsed Rutherford for reelection—saying that he was generally moving his department "in a positive direction"—but criticized the pace and inadequacies of key initiatives, such as reducing the murder rate, tackling illegal guns, and initiating a management audit. Overall, the Jacksonville crime rate was about the same at the beginning and end of Rutherford's tenure.
As sheriff, Rutherford was a staunch critic of State Attorney Harry Shorstein and an ally of his successor, Angela Corey. He was credited with improving the sheriff's department's capacities to deal with mental health matters and his oversight of a prisoner reentry program, but was criticized for enduring tensions and a lack of trust between the local African American community and police, as well as a high number of police shootings by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. According to a Wall Street Journal report, Jacksonville had the ninth-highest rate of justifiable homicides among the U.S.'s 105 largest police department efforts between 2007 and 2012.
U.S. House of Representatives
After initially considering a run for the state House, Rutherford announced his candidacy for Florida's 4th congressional district on April 15, 2016, for the open seat created by the retirement of the Republican incumbent, Ander Crenshaw. Originally he announced he would run for Florida's 6th congressional district in 2015. Because the 4th district is a Republican safe seat, Rutherford was heavily favored in each election.
In the August 2016 Republican primary, Rutherford faced State Representative Lake Ray, St. Johns County Commissioner Bill McClure and former St. Johns Water Management District executive director Hans Tanzler III. Rutherford won the nomination with 38.7% of the vote, to Ray's 20.1%, Tanzler's 19.0%, and McClure's 9.8%. In the general election, Rutherford defeated Democratic nominee David Bruderly, 70.2% to 27.6%.
In 2020, Rutherford won re-nomination in a low-key Republican primary, defeating retired Navy chief petty officer Erick Aguilar with 80.2% of the vote to Aguilar's 19.8%. In the general election, Rutherford defeated Democratic nominee Donna Deegan, a former local TV anchor and breast cancer awareness advocate, 61.1% to 38.9%.
On January 11, 2017, Rutherford collapsed on the floor of the House, in what his staffers described as an "acute digestive flareup"; he was taken to the hospital, and released ten days later.
- Committee on Appropriations
- Committee on Ethics
In February 2021, Rutherford joined the House Committee on Ethics. The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) board filed a February 2022 report stating that there was "substantial reason to believe" Rutherford had not filed timely disclosure reports as required by federal law and House rules. The House Committee on Ethics released a report on May 31, 2022, indicating that it was investigating one of its members over repeated reporting violations of the STOCK Act, enacted in 2012 to prevent insider trading using non-public information by members of Congress and other government employees. Members of Congress are required to report any stock transaction over $1,000 within 45 days. Violations are subject to a $200 fine. Between January 2017 and December 2021, Rutherford had 157 late reports involving trades worth between $652,000 and $3.5 million. Most were from his first term, but the violations continued thereafter. The OCE report noted an $800 fine payment in November 2021 but asked whether Rutherford had been "properly penalized for his repeated violations of federal law and House rules". The OCE report also said that Rutherford and Jen Bailey, his chief of staff, were uncooperative by refusing to meet and answer questions. The fine for 157 violations would be $31,400. During his time in Congress, Rutherford had "several trainings on his disclosure obligations" for reporting stock transactions, according to the OCE report.
Rutherford initially contended that the stock trades are made by the manager of his IRA, so he should have been exempt from the reporting requirements. One of his lawyers, Kate Belinski, sent the OCE a letter on March 18, 2022, insisting that the late reports were "an entirely inadvertent oversight" based on a "simple misunderstanding of the requirements". She wrote that Rutherford had cooperated by providing the documents OCE requested. Belinski also claimed that Rutherford has a new system to track and file STOCK transactions. Rutherford said, "Everything is done, as far as I know. I paid the fine that they asked for, and I'm done with it."
Rutherford aligned himself with President Donald Trump, voting in line with Trump's position 96.6% of the time. He voted against a majority of fellow Republicans approximately 3.9% of the time.
In 2017, Rutherford voted for a measure to make permits for the concealed carrying of firearms valid across state lines. Also in 2017, Rutherford signed a letter to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives expressing his support for legislation to ban bump stocks. In 2019, he voted against universal background checks for firearm purchases and against giving additional time to law enforcement agencies to conduct background checks on firearm purchasers.
In 2018, Rutherford sponsored a bill, the STOP (Students, Teachers, and Officers Preventing) School Violence Act, that authorized $50 million a year to create a federal grant program "to train students, teachers and law enforcement on how to spot and report signs of gun violence"; the House approved the bill, 407–10. The bill authorized funding for the development of "anonymous telephone and online systems where people could report threats of violence" and $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; Rutherford sought to include such funding as part of an omnibus spending bill.
Rutherford voted to rescind the Stream Protection Rule. In interviews in 2016 and 2019, he acknowledged the existence of climate change but questioned the scientific consensus that human activity has caused the increase in warming. On 2019, Rutherford voted against a measure to block Trump from withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Agreement to combat climate change. Rutherford has expressed concern over sea level rise, which would adversely impact St. Augustine. He has criticized the Green New Deal proposal as a "socialist manifesto" and in 2018 voted for a resolution opposing a carbon tax.
Rutherford and Representative Jeff Van Drew introduced the Atlantic Coastal Economies Protection Act, which would prohibit seismic air gun testing in the Atlantic Ocean. In 2019, in a rare break with Trump's position, Rutherford voted in favor of legislation to ban offshore drilling along the Atlantic coast, Pacific coast, and eastern Gulf of Mexico coast. In 2019, he introduced bipartisan legislation (cosponsored by eight Florida Democrats and nine Florida Republicans) to extend a moratorium on oil and gas drilling in federal waters off Florida's Gulf Coast until 2029, and to create a similar moratorium on offshore drilling in federal waters off Florida's South Atlantic coast and in the Straits of Florida.
Rutherford supported the unsuccessful 2017 effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. In 2021, he sponsored legislation seeking to block the government from asking passengers on domestic flights whether they had been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Policing and criminal justice
One of two former sheriffs in Congress, Rutherford is "skeptical" of shorter prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenses, but in December 2018 voted for the First Step Act (legislation amending federal sentencing and prison laws). During his campaign for Congress, he called Black Lives Matter a "hate group"; in 2020, he voted against the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a police reform bill aimed at preventing brutality and racial discrimination in policing.
Economy, trade, and taxation
Rutherford voted against an increase in the federal hourly minimum wage to $15. He voted for the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement. He voted against a $3 trillion COVID-19 economic rescue package in May 2020, but for a pandemic relief bill in December 2020. Rutherford voted against the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in 2020.
In 2018, Rutherford voted for legislation that repealed some of the Dodd-Frank banking regulations. He voted against a bill to restrict companies from imposing mandatory arbitration clauses.
Foreign and military policy
In February and April 2019, Rutherford voted against legislation to end U.S. military assistance to the Saudi Arabian war against Yemen. In July 2019, he voted against legislation to block U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In October 2019, he voted against a measure opposing Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. In January 2020, he voted against a bill to restrict Trump from initiating military action against Iran without approval by Congress.
Rutherford's district includes two major U.S. Navy bases (Naval Air Station Jacksonville and Naval Station Mayport), and he has pressed issues important to the bases. Like other members of Florida's delegation, he pressed for two squadrons of the F-35 Lightning II to be based in Jacksonville.
Rutherford defended some of Trump's most controversial statements and actions as president, including his pardon of ex-sheriff Joe Arpaio and his comments after a deadly far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Rutherford voted against both Trump's first impeachment (in 2019, on articles of obstruction of Congress and abuse of power) and his second impeachment (in 2021, on an article of incitement of insurrection).
Effort to overturn 2020 election result
Rutherford refused to accept the results of the 2020 presidential election, in which Trump lost to Joe Biden. He echoed Trump's false claims of election fraud and suggested that Republican-controlled state legislatures in swing states Biden won could hold a "decertification vote" that would lead to the U.S. House selecting the next president, though he acknowledged that this was unlikely to succeed. On January 7, 2021, after the Capitol was attacked by a pro-Trump mob in an attempted insurrection, Rutherford was one of 138 House Republicans who voted not to count the electoral votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania, despite a number of audits and recounts confirming the election outcome in those states.
In December 2020, Rutherford was one of 126 Republican members of the House of Representatives to sign an amicus brief in support of Texas v. Pennsylvania, a lawsuit filed at the U.S. Supreme Court that sought to overturn the election results. 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 an election held by another state.
After Trump was impeached for his role in inciting a pro-Trump mob to storm the Capitol over false claims of election fraud, Rutherford condemned Representative Liz Cheney for voting to impeach Trump, accusing her of not being a "team player."
In 2018, Rutherford defended the Trump administration policy of separating parents and children at the U.S.-Mexico border, and opposed legislation that would end the practice. After coming under pressure, Trump reversed his policy, a move Rutherford welcomed.
In 2017, Rutherford introduced legislation to create a path to citizenship for holders of E-2 Treaty Investor Visas, a special visa for business owners. In 2019, he voted against legislation to establish a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children.
Rutherford opposes the legalization of marijuana. He voted against the 2014 ballot initiative to legal medicinal marijuana in Florida, believing that it would ultimately lead to the legalization of recreational marijuana and to marijuana "in every backpack in every high school in Duval County."
Rutherford has supported the use of earmarks and has called for the elimination or restriction of the U.S. Senate rule that requires 60 Senate votes to invoke cloture (i.e., end debate on bills); he described both proposals as a way to facilitate compromise between the parties and reduce gridlock. Rutherford has said that he supports local referendums to resolve disputes over the fate of public Confederate monuments. He voted against statehood for the District of Columbia.
Rutherford campaigned for Duval County sheriff, running against fellow Republicans David Anderson and Lem Sharp. In the election on April 15, 2003, he received 135,038 votes, 78% of the total. He took office on July 1, 2003. Rutherford was reelected in 2007 and 2011.
On August 30, 2016, he won the Republican primary for Florida's 4th Congressional District.
|Republican||Hans Tanzler III||18,999||19.0%|
|Republican||Deborah Katz Pueschel||2,137||2.1%|
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- Treen, Dana. "Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford saying farewell after 41 years of service". Jacksonville.com. Florida Times-Union. Retrieved December 22, 2017.
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- "DUVAL COUNTY SHERIFF: Rutherford is slow, on track". Florida Times-Union. March 3, 2007. Archived from the original on March 5, 2007.
- Jim Piggott, Sheriff speaks out against death penalty, may run for state House seat, WJXT (January 24, 2015).
- Nate Monroe (April 15, 2016). "Former Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford runs for U.S. Rep. Crenshaw's seat". Florida Times-Union.
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- Nate Monroe, Eight months in office, U.S. Rep. Rutherford backs Trump, laments partisanship, Florida Times-Union (September 5, 2017).
- David Bauerlein, Race between Rutherford and Deegan pits two well-known candidates for Congress, Florida Times-Union (October 21, 2020).
- David Bauerlein, Rutherford powers to lopsided win in congressional race Archived April 25, 2021, at the Wayback Machine, Florida Times-Union (November 7, 2016).
- Nate Monroe (August 17, 2016). "4th District Congressional candidates agree on key conservative principles at debate". Florida Times-Union.
- "Hans Tanzler III jumps into growing GOP field for 4th Congressional District". Florida Times-Union. May 5, 2016. Archived from the original on April 25, 2021. Retrieved April 25, 2021.
- August 30, 2016 Primary Election: Republican Primary, Florida Division of Elections.
- November 8, 2016 General Election, Florida Division of Elections.
- Melissa Ross, Selmont Hoping To Unseat Rutherford In District 4 Congressional Race, WJCT (October 9, 2018).
- November 6, 2018 General Election, Florida Division of Elections.
- David Bauerlein, Congressman John Rutherford faces GOP challenger as he eyes match-up with Donna Deegan, Florida Times-Union (August 8, 2020).
- August 18, 2020 Primary Election, Florida Division of Elections.
- November 3, 2020 General Election, Florida Division of Elections.
- Winkle, Amanda (January 12, 2017). "U.S. Rep., former Jacksonville sheriff John Rutherford to be back to full strength in little time". WJAX.
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- "John H. Rutherford". Clerk of the United States House of Representatives. Retrieved May 2, 2023.
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- Bauerlein, David (June 2, 2022). "U.S. Rep. John Rutherford faces House Ethics probe over disclosure of stock trades". USA Today. Retrieved June 4, 2022.
- Leonard, Kimberly (May 31, 2022). "Congressional investigators find 'substantial reason to believe' Republican Reps. Pat Fallon and John Rutherford violated a federal stock law". Business Insider. Retrieved June 5, 2022.
- Leonard, Kimberly (September 29, 2021). "Four more Republican members of Congress appear to have violated a federal law designed to combat insider trading and conflicts of interest". Business Insider. Retrieved June 5, 2022.
- Tracking Congress in the Age of Trump: John Rutherford, Republican representative for Florida's 4th District, FiveThirtyEight (2021).
- John Rutherford (R-Fla.), Represent Project, ProPublica (2020).
- Dean, Ed (October 9, 2017). "Jacksonville Congressman John Rutherford vs. The National Rifle Association????". WBOB. CP Broadcasting. Archived from the original on February 23, 2018. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
- Grinberg, Emanuella (February 21, 2018). "These Florida lawmakers accepted money from the National Rifle Association". CNN. Atlanta. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
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- Wong, Scott. "Five things lawmakers want attached to the $1 trillion funding bill". The Hill. Retrieved March 10, 2018.
- Ellen Cranley, These are the 130 current members of Congress who have doubted or denied climate change, Business Insider (April 29, 2019).
- Brendan Rivers, Rutherford: Green New Deal A 'Socialist Manifesto' Dressed As Environmental Proposal, WJCT (February 21, 2019).
- Sheldon Gardner, Rutherford says sea level rise, health care are among priorities, St. Augustine Record (February 1, 2020).
- Brunetti Post, Michelle (February 11, 2019). "Van Drew introduces bill to ban seismic testing in Atlantic". Press of Atlantic City. Retrieved February 13, 2019.
- Steve Patterson, Rutherford aims to ban offshore drilling around Florida, Florida Times-Union (June 28, 2019).
- Syndey Boles, Florida Legislators Lead Federal Push To Ban Vaccine Passports at Airports, WJCT (July 1, 2021).
- FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 217: On Passage, Equality Act, Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives (May 17, 2019).
- Steve Contorno, How Florida members of Congress voted on historic LGBTQ protection bill, Tampa Bay Times (May 17, 2019).
- Congressional Votes: Rutherford, Waltz vote against Equality Bill, Targeted News Service/St. Augustine Record (February 27, 2021).
- Almukhtar, Sarah (December 19, 2017). "How Each House Member Voted on the Tax Bill". The New York Times. Retrieved December 22, 2017.
- Brown, Stephanie (December 19, 2017). "Northeast Florida lawmakers divided on impact of tax reform plan". WOKV. Retrieved December 22, 2017.
- Anne Schindler, John Rutherford to reject Electoral College results showing Joe Biden won the election, First Coast News (January 1, 2021).
- Joshua Ceballos, Here Are the 13 Florida Republicans Who Objected to Biden's Vote Certification, Miami New Times (January 7, 2021).
- 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.
- "List: The 126 House members, 19 states and 2 imaginary states that backed Texas' challenge to Trump defeat". The Mercury News. Bay Area News Group. December 15, 2020.
- 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.
- "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.
- 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.
- Draper, Robert (April 22, 2021). "Liz Cheney vs. MAGA". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 23, 2021.
- A.G. Gancarski, Father's Day message: Florida Republicans defend family separations at Mexican border, FloridaPolitics.com (June 17, 2018).
- Kent Justice, Lawson, Rutherford react to Trump signing executive order to end family separations, WJXT (June 21, 2018).
- Lindsey Kilbride, Jacksonville Business Owner Could Get Path To Citizenship Under Rep. Rutherford Bill, WJCT (August 4, 2017).
- Derek Gilliam, Sheriff Rutherford talks about his future, crime, abortion and a 'culture of death' Archived April 25, 2021, at the Wayback Machine, Florida Times-Union (January 22, 2015).
- Max Marbut, Sheriff John Rutherford supports use of medical marijuana but not Amendment 2, Jacksonville Daily Record (September 22, 2014).
- Jon Blauvelt, Rep. Rutherford calls for procedural changes at Chamber luncheon to promote bipartisanship in Congress, Ponte Vedra Recorder (November 2, 2017).
- Dana Treen, John Rutherford wins re-election as Jacksonville sheriff, Florida Times-Union (March 22, 2011).
- "John Rutherford wins CD 4 primary - Florida Politics". floridapolitics.com. August 31, 2016.
- "2016 Election Results: House Live Map by State, Real-Time Voting Updates". Election Hub. November 8, 2016.
- "Congressman John Rutherford". Rutherford.house.gov. US House of Representatives. January 26, 2017. Retrieved June 3, 2022.
- Congressman John Rutherford official U.S. House website
- Campaign website
- John Rutherford on Ukraine, China, and Law Enforcement
- John Rutherford at Curlie
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Legislation sponsored at the Library of Congress
- Profile at Vote Smart
- Appearances on C-SPAN