|United States Senator
November 29, 2010
Serving with Dick Durbin
|Preceded by||Roland Burris|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 10th district
January 3, 2001 – November 29, 2010
|Preceded by||John Porter|
|Succeeded by||Robert Dold|
|Born||Mark Steven Kirk
September 15, 1959
|Spouse(s)||Kimberly Vertolli (2001–2009; divorced)|
|Residence||Highland Park, Illinois|
|Alma mater||Cornell University (B.A.)
London School of Economics (M.A.)
Georgetown University Law Center (J.D.)
|Occupation||Attorney, Navy Officer|
|Religion||United Church of Christ|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Navy|
|Years of service||1989–present|
|Battles/wars||Operation Northern Watch|
Mark Steven Kirk (born September 15, 1959) is the junior United States Senator from Illinois and a member of the Republican Party. Previously, Kirk was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Illinois's 10th congressional district.
Born in Champaign, Illinois, he graduated from Cornell University, the London School of Economics, and Georgetown University Law Center. He practiced law throughout the 1980s and 1990s. He joined the United States Navy Reserve as a Direct Commission Officer in the Intelligence career field in 1989 and was recalled to active duty for the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. He participated in Operation Northern Watch in Iraq the following year. He remains a member of the Navy Reserve, now holding the rank of Commander.
Kirk was elected to the House in 2000. During his fifth term in November 2010 he won two concurrent elections: to finish the final months of former Senator Barack Obama's term and to serve the next six-year term. He was sworn in on November 29, 2010, and began a six-year Senate term in January 2011.
On January 3, 2013, Kirk returned to work as Senator in Washington, D.C., almost a year after his stroke and climbed the steps of the U.S. Capitol. He was greeted by Joe Manchin, Dick Durbin, and Vice President Joe Biden, among others.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Teaching career
- 3 Military service
- 4 Early political career
- 5 U.S. House of Representatives
- 6 United States Senate
- 7 Personal life
- 8 Electoral history
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Early life and education
Kirk was born in Champaign, Illinois, the son of Judith Ann (Brady) and Francis Gabriel "Frank" Kirk. After graduating from New Trier East High School in 1977 he attended Blackburn College in Carlinville, Illinois for two years, before transferring to Cornell University, where he graduated cum laude with a B.A. in History. Kirk later obtained a masters degree from the London School of Economics and a Juris Doctor (J.D.) from Georgetown University Law Center.
While Kirk was an undergraduate student at Cornell University he held a work–study job supervising a play group at the Forest Home Chapel nursery school. After getting his masters degree, Kirk taught for one year at a private school in London. He later stated in speeches and interviews that he had been a nursery and middle school teacher. For example, Kirk claimed in a speech to the Illinois Education Association, "As a former nursery school and middle school teacher, I know some of what it takes to bring order to class". However, a member of the Forest Home Chapel said, "He was never, ever considered a teacher [at the nursery school]".
In discussing problems in the educational system early in his congressional career, Kirk addressed the brevity of his teaching career: “I did leave the teaching profession, but if we had addressed some of the teacher development issues, which I want to raise with you, I might have stayed.”
In 1999 Kirk was recalled to active duty in Operation Allied Force for the bombing of Yugoslavia. He served from to April 10 to June 6, 1999 as the intelligence officer of VAQ-209. VAQ-209 was combined with three other EA-6B squadrons to form an ad hoc unit called Electronic Attack Wing Aviano, Italy. VAQ-140 had tactical command of the combined unit. In May, 2000, the National Military Intelligence Association bestowed the organization's Vice Admiral Rufus L. Taylor Award to Intelligence Division Electronic Attack Wing Aviano, Italy.
In March and April 2000 Kirk trained with an EC-130 squadron based in Turkey. Kirk took a flight over Iraq as part of Operation Northern Watch, which enforced a no-fly zone over the northern section of Iraq.
Kirk has served three, two-week reserve deployments in Afghanistan, with the latest concluding in September 2011.
During his military career, Kirk has been awarded the following medals: the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, as well as the Joint Meritorious Unit Award, the Navy Unit Commendation, and the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation. He continues his service in the United States Navy Reserve holding the rank of Commander.
Kirk corrected claims he had made about being awarded "Navy Intelligence Officer of the Year" after it was brought to the media's attention by his Democratic opponent, Alexi Giannoulias. In a 2002 House committee hearing recorded by C-SPAN, Kirk said, "I was the Navy's Intelligence Officer of the Year", an achievement he said gave him special qualifications to discuss national security spending. However, in May 2010, the Washington Post reported that Kirk's claim to having been named the Navy's “Intelligence Officer of the Year” was erroneous. The National Military Intelligence Association gave the Vice Admiral Rufus L. Taylor Award to the entire Intelligence Division Electronic Attack Wing at Aviano. Kirk was the lead intelligence officer for VAQ-209, one of the four squadrons assigned to the Electronic Attack Wing. VAQ-140 had tactical command. Kirk later apologized for this and other errors, including a claim made by his office of having participated in Operation Desert Storm when in fact he did not.
On June 7, 2010, Medal of Honor recipient and advocate of Veteran's benefits, Allen Lynch, deemed Mark Kirk's apologies adequate, and further commented: “To me, in my opinion, it's just a bunch of nit picking. Plus, he's done a christ ton for veterans. So I think this is being blown way out of proportion".
Service under fire
Controversy regarding Kirk's military record continued as other statements surfaced, such as Kirk stating “the last time I was in Iraq I was in uniform, flying at 20,000 feet, and the Iraqi Air Defense network was shooting at us”. Kirk has since clarified his previous statements, admitting that he was never fired on as he flew over Iraq or Kosovo. “I simply misremembered [sic] it wrong”, he told the Chicago Sun-Times, referring to his military record.
On December 18, 2009, Undersecretary of Defense Gail H. McGinn noted in a memo that Kirk had on two previous active duty periods engaged in politicking—violation of military policy by participating in political activities while on active duty, per Department of Defense regulations. On one occasion Congressman Kirk commented on Rod Blagojevich's arrest and posted a tweet while on duty with the Navy in Afghanistan. According to the Pentagon, Kirk was required to sign a statement acknowledging he knew the rules and wouldn't break them again.
Early political career
Kirk worked on the staff of John Porter, the former holder of Illinois’s 10th congressional district. From 1991 to 1993, Kirk was the Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of State in the U.S. State Department. Kirk was an attorney for Baker & McKenzie from 1993 to 1995. In 1995 Kirk was named as a counsel to the House International Relations Committee. He remained counsel to the House International Relations Committee until 1999.
U.S. House of Representatives
Kirk was originally elected in 2000 with 51%. He won re-election with comfortable margins in 2002 and 2004. He defeated Dan Seals by a five point margin in 2006, and defeated him again by the same margin in a rematch in 2008.
Kirk was a member of the House Iran Working Group, the founder and co-chair of the House U.S.-China Working Group, the co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, the co-chair of the Albanian Issues Caucus in ex Yugoslavia, and a member of the GOP Tuesday Group. During his House tenure, he was a member of the House Appropriations Committee. Before leaving for the Senate, Kirk had been named to the Appropriations Committee.
In June 2008, Kirk introduced H.R. 6257 to reinstate the assault weapons ban of 1994. The bill was co-sponsored by fellow Republicans: Michael Castle, Mike Ferguson, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Chris Shays. Four years earlier, in February 2004, Kirk had been among 11 Republican and 129 Democrat co-sponsors of H.R. 3831 to reauthorize the ban. Both bills died in committee.
Kirk attracted controversy by stating that he was not opposed if the immigration process in the United States discriminates against Arab males from certain countries. He stated, "I’m OK with discrimination against young Arab males from terrorist-producing states. I’m OK with that."
United States Senate
On July 20, 2009, Kirk announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate election for the seat held by Roland Burris, which had been held by Barack Obama before his election as president. On February 2, 2010, Kirk won the Republican primary with 56.6 percent of the vote; no other candidate had as much as 20 percent. He ran against Democratic nominee Alexi Giannoulias, Green Party nominee LeAlan Jones, and Libertarian nominee Mike Labno. During the Illinois U.S. Senate election campaign in 2010, Kirk and Giannoulias were in a hotly contested debate. Kirk (R) defeated Giannoulias in the election for the full six-year term, getting 48% to Giannoulias's 46%. Kirk changed his position on Cap and Trade legislation during the campaign saying he voted for it "because it was in the narrow interests of my Congressional district", but that as a representative of the entire state of Illinois, "I will vote No on that bill”.
Kirk was sworn-in on November 29, 2010, as the junior Senator from Illinois. On December 18, 2010, Kirk voted in favor of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010. He was one of only two Republicans to oppose legislation to detain American citizens indefinitely. Kirk sits at the Senate's coveted Candy Desk.
In his first year in the Senate, Kirk worked along with U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D–IL) to help mediate a dispute between airlines serving O'Hare International Airport and the City of Chicago in order to Keep the O'Hare Modernization project on Schedule. It is estimated the project would create 200,000 jobs and add $18 billion to the regional economy when completed.
Kirk and Durbin also worked together to bring $186 million in federal funds to support improved rail service from Chicago to St. Louis. The money was originally rejected by the state of Florida but reallocated to Illinois.
Kirk authored legislation, entitled the Lincoln Legacy Infrastructure Development Act, that sought to eliminate barriers and encourage private investment in roads, transit, airport and rail. Several of the provisions in the legislation would later become law under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (P.L. 112-114), including provisions to eliminate barriers to public-private partnerships for public transportation projects and a boost for the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFA) program.
Environmental protections for the Great Lakes
Mark Kirk co-chairs the Senate's Great Lakes Task Force, along with Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), and on June 26, 2013, the two introduced the Great Lakes Ecological and Economic Protection Act (GLEEPA). This legislation authorizes more funds to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in their efforts to restore wetlands, control invasive species, and regulate dumping of sewage and other industrial byproducts into the Great Lakes watershed. It also re-authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency's Great Lakes national Program Office and Great Lakes Legacy Act, which addresses dumping of toxic waste. Kirk has introduced similar legislation in the past, and Kirk has been a longstanding supporter of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' efforts to keep invasive Asian Carp out of the Great Lakes ecosystem.
Illinois debt crisis
Kirk appointed a sovereign debt advisory board to help research the unfunded obligations and unpaid bills contributing to Illinois' debt crisis. He later produced a Report on Illinois Debt highlighting the unsustainable debt the state continued to hold and the need for pension reform. Kirk introduced legislation entitled No State Bailouts, S. Res. 188, along with 14 other U.S. Senators, which would ban federal bailouts of financially struggling states. Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford endorsed the legislation.
Kirk and Representative Robert Dold (R–IL-10) introduced bipartisan legislation to expand qualifications for ending federal pension payouts to elected officials convicted of corruption. The bicameral provision expanded current law to include an additional 22 crimes, and the bill was included in the STOCK Act signed by the President in April 2012.
Kirk is a cosponsor and strong supporter of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and in November 2013 one of several Republicans to vote in favor of the law, which would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
- Albanian Issue Caucus (Co-Chair)
- Congressional Diabetes Caucus (Vice-Chair)
- International Conservation Caucus
- Committee on Appropriations
- Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government
- Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies
- Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (Ranking Member)
- Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
- Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies
- Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
- Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
- Special Committee on Aging
In February 1998, Kirk met his future wife, Kimberly Vertolli, a Naval Intelligence Officer, by chance, while the two were on duty together at the Pentagon. “It was supposed to be my weekend off...but Saddam had just thrown out the weapons inspectors and we were preparing for a strike on Baghdad”, Vertolli said, according to Capitol File magazine. The two married in August 2001, when Kirk was 41. After eight years of marriage, the two separated, finalizing their divorce in the summer of 2009.
Kirk was earlier engaged to Virginia Hurt Johnson, whom he met while both were practicing law in Washington, D.C., in 1994. Johnson became the Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 13th congressional district of North Carolina in 2004. She was Counsel to the House Armed Services Committee and was the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for House Legislative Affairs under Secretaries Rumsfeld and Gates.
Stroke and recovery
On January 23, 2012, Senator Kirk underwent surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago following a stroke; he underwent neurosurgery to remove two small pieces of brain tissue rendered dysfunctional by the stroke and he had a piece of his cranium temporarily removed to lessen any danger from the brain swelling process. His neurosurgeon, Dr. Fessler, expected him to have to spend a lengthy period in inpatient and outpatient stroke rehabilitation, but his cognitive functions, motor skills, and vital functions were largely unaffected by the stroke, save for the fact that his left side has a marked degree of weakness, which may improve during the healing process. Even barring any complications or further cerebrovascular incidents, it would still be months before any decision can be made about returning to the Senate.
On May 1, 2012, Kirk was sent home from a rehabilitation center. A statement from his family said the Illinois Republican would continue to work on rehabilitation on an outpatient basis, but that he has progressed enough to be able to move home with his family. A week later, Kirk’s staff released a video showing Kirk walking on a treadmill and down a hallway at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago as doctors work with him to help fully regain the use of his left side. A second video was released in August, showing Kirk is living at his Fort Sheridan, Illinois home, and while his left side still showed impairment, Kirk was walking without aid. According to an aide, his return to the Senate is expected in January 2013. On November 4, he participated in a "SkyRise Chicago" challenge to climb the stairs of Willis Tower, successfully completing 37 floors.
|2000||Lauren Beth Gash||115,924||49%||Mark Kirk||121,582||51%|
|2002||Henry H. Perritt, Jr.||58,300||31%||Mark Kirk||128,611||69%|
|2004||Lee Goodman||99,218||36%||Mark Kirk||177,493||64%|
|2006||Daniel J. Seals||94,278||47%||Mark Kirk||107,929||53%||*|
|2008||Daniel J. Seals||138,176||47%||Mark Kirk||153,082||53%|
*Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 2006, a write-in received 1 vote.
|Election 2010 Results|
|Republican gain from Democratic|
- "About Mark". U.S. House of Representatives. Archived from the original on July 9, 2008. Retrieved July 24, 2008.
- "Barack Obama, candidate for President, is 'UCC'". United Church of Christ. February 9, 2007. Retrieved December 18, 2009.
- "Sen. Mark Kirk has stroke: Surgery Monday at Northwestern Hospital". Chicago Sun-Times. January 23, 2012. Retrieved January 23, 2012.
- Skiba, Katherine (January 23, 2012). "Sen. Mark Kirk undergoes surgery after suffering stroke". Chicago Tribune.
- "Sen. Kirk to make dramatic return after stroke". USA Today. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
- "Congressman Mark Kirk's father dies of pulmonary fibrosis". Daily Herald. Retrieved July 28, 2010.
- "President Bush Promotes Kirk to Navy Commander | Congressman Mark Kirk – 10th District, Illinois". Kirk.house.gov. May 3, 2005. Retrieved July 28, 2010.
- "Mark Kirk ancestry". rootsweb.ancestry.com. Retrieved January 23, 2012.
- Gitlin, Ben. "Mark Kirk '81 Campaigns For Illinois Senate Seat After Winning Primary | The Cornell Daily Sun". Cornellsun.com. Retrieved July 28, 2010.
- "Profile: Mark Kirk trying to expand base well beyond North Shore – Page 2 – Chicago Tribune". Articles.chicagotribune.com. January 10, 2010. Retrieved July 28, 2010.
- "CBS 2 Voter Guide: Mark Kirk |date-January 1, 2010". CBS2Chicago.com. Retrieved June 22, 2010.[dead link]
- Zeleny, Jeff (June 18, 2010). "School Officials Say Candidate Overstated His Role". New York Times. Retrieved June 21, 2010.
- Sweet, Lynn (June 18, 2010). "Kirk exaggerates teaching; Duncan helps Giannouliase". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved July 4, 2010.
- Sabella, Jen (June 18, 2010). "Mark Kirk's Teaching Experience 'Overstated,' Says School Representative". Huffington Post. Retrieved June 20, 2010.
- Gill, Ellen Beth (May 29, 2010). "Let's Take A Look At Kirk's Award With A Former Navy Officer". Deerfield, IL. Retrieved June 25, 2010.
- National Military Intelligence Association 2000 Annual Awards
- Sweet, Lynn (June 3, 2010). "More Mark Kirk military embellishments surface, including in Senate ad, on House floor". Chicago, IL: Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved June 25, 2010.
- "Kirk Delivers Address Following Navy Reserve Assignment in Afghanistan". Kirk.senate.gov. September 6, 2011. Retrieved January 23, 2012.
- Smith, R. Jeffrey (May 29, 2010). "Illinois Senate candidate admits claim about military award was inaccurate". Washington, DC: Washington Post. Retrieved June 22, 2010.
- Pearson, Rick (June 1, 2010). "U.S. Navy alerted Kirk to questions about his military award". Chicago, IL: Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 22, 2010.
- Smith, R. Jeffrey (May 30, 2010). "Illinois Republican Senate candidate admits to error on Navy award". Washingtonpost.com. Retrieved August 20, 2010.
- Pearson, Rick (June 3, 2010). "Kirk apologizes, acknowledges more errors in military resume". Chicago, IL: Chicago Tribune. Retrieved Nov 5, 2010.
- "Medal of Honor Allen Lynch on Mark Kirk's Military Record".
- "Kirk Caught Misstating His Military Record Again". Politicalwire.com. June 3, 2010. Retrieved July 28, 2010.
- Pallasch, Abdon (June 4, 2010). "Kirk says he 'misremembered' military record". Chicago, IL: Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved June 7, 2010.
- "Mark Kirk Denies Mixing Politics and Service". CBS News. Associated Press. November 2, 2010. Retrieved November 1, 2012.
- "Election Statistics". Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Retrieved January 10, 2008.
- "The Bipartisan U.S.-China Working Group | Congressman Mark Kirk – 10th District, Illinois". Kirk.house.gov. Retrieved July 28, 2010.
- House Committees, kirk.house.gov
- "About Us". Tgpac.com. Retrieved July 28, 2010.
- "Committee Members". Appropriations.house.gov. Retrieved July 28, 2010.
- Pareene, Alex (February 2, 2011). "Mark Kirk doesn't support regulating carbon anymore, because Al Gore got divorced". Salon.com.
- Weigel, David (February 2, 2011). "The EPA Must Die for Al Gore's Sins". Slate.com.
- H.R. 6257
- H.R. 3831
- "Kirk 'OK' With Visa Bias Against Some Arab Men". Chicago Sun-Times. CAIR–Chicago. November 6, 2005. Retrieved May 11, 2011.
- By ALEXANDER BURNS. "Morning Score: Land of Lincoln – Alexander Burns". Politico.Com. Retrieved July 28, 2010. Unknown parameter
- Sargent, Greg (September 15, 2009). "GOP Rep Gets Loudly Booed By Right, Performs Creative Flip-Flop". Washington, DC: Washington Post. Retrieved June 22, 2010.
- "With Kirk's swearing-in, GOP formally claims Obama's old seat". The hill.
- "Senate Vote 281 – Repeals 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'". The New York Times.
- McAuliff, Michael; Bendery, Jennifer (November 29, 2011). "Senate Votes To Let Military Detain Americans Indefinitely, White House Threatens Veto". Huffington Post. Retrieved January 23, 2012.
- Toeplitz, Shira (February 13, 2011). "Mark Kirk: Senate candy man". Politico.
- Meincke, Paul (January 14, 2011). ABC Local http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&id=7899036
|url=missing title (help).
- "O’Hare Modernization Program".
- Illinois Government News Network. "Governor Quinn, Senators Durbin, Kirk Announce $186 Million for Chicago to St. Louis High Speed Rail Funding Rejected by Florida Will Improve Chicago to St. Louis Route". Retrieved October 31, 2012.
- Hilkevitch, John (June 20, 2011). "Kirk unveils plan to ease transit privatization". Tribune Reporter.
- Kessler, Lane, Frederic & Mari (2012-07-16). "MAP - 21: Treatment of Public-Private Partnerships Under Surface Transportation Reauthorization".
- http://magblog.audubon.org/new-bill-would-be-boost-america%E2%80%99s-great-lakes. Missing or empty
- http://www.kirk.senate.gov/?p=press_release&id=42. Missing or empty
- Yerak, Becky (Oct 11, 2011). "Kirk report diagnoses Illinois' 'unsustainable' debt". Chicago Tribune.
- Illinois Review http://illinoisreview.typepad.com/illinoisreview/2011/05/kirk-to-push-for-no-state-bailouts-resolution.html
|url=missing title (help).
- Easley, Jonathan (2012-04-04). The Hill http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/219951-president-signs-stock-act-without-mentioning-tv-expose
|url=missing title (help).
- "Republican Sen. Mark Kirk Endorses Marriage Equality". Buzzfeed. April 2, 2013.
- "Mark Kirk Speaks On ENDA Support In First Senate Floor Speech Since Stroke". Huffington Post. November 4, 2013.
- Sweet, Lynn (May 5, 2006). "Kirk: Lawmakers' wife splits for D.C. – Lynn Sweet". Blogs.suntimes.com. Retrieved July 28, 2010.
- Capitol File Magazine.
- "In the News – Full Article, In the News, News and Events, School of Law, Northwestern University". Law.northwestern.edu. Retrieved July 28, 2010.
- "Kimberly Vertolli-Kirk Bio.doc" (PDF). Retrieved July 28, 2010.
- Virginia Johnson for Congress
- Richard G. Fessler, MD, PhD
- Hook, Janet (May 3, 2012). "Sen. Mark Kirk Continues Recovery From Stroke". wsj.com. Retrieved May 19, 2012.
- Hester, Kerry (May 9, 2012). "Kirk reveals details of late January stroke". Daily Herald. Retrieved May 19, 2012.
- Strauss, Daniel (December 6, 2012). "Sen. Kirk to return to Capitol Hill in Jan. after recovery from stroke". The Hill. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
- Skiba, Katherine (November 4, 2012). "Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk participates in Willis Tower stair climb". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 5, 2012.
- "Election 2010". New York Times. Retrieved May 21, 2012.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mark Kirk.|
- U.S. Senator Mark Kirk official U.S. Senate site
- Mark Kirk for Senate
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Biography, voting record, and interest group ratings at Project Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Legislation sponsored at The Library of Congress
- Profile from SourceWatch
- Mark Kirk and Dodie McCracken photo at September 12, 2011 Adler Planetarium fete.
|United States Senate|
|United States Senator (Class 3) from Illinois
Served alongside: Dick Durbin
|United States order of precedence (ceremonial)|
|United States Senators by seniority
|United States House of Representatives|
John Edward Porter
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 10th congressional district
|Party political offices|
|Republican Party nominee for United States Senator from Illinois