Richard Ottinger

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Richard Ottinger
1979 p96 Richard Ottinger.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 20th district
In office
January 3, 1983 – January 3, 1985
Preceded byTheodore Weiss
Succeeded byJoseph DioGuardi
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 24th district
In office
January 3, 1975 – January 3, 1983
Preceded byOgden Reid
Succeeded byGerald Solomon
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 25th district
In office
January 3, 1965 – January 3, 1971
Preceded byRobert Barry
Succeeded byPeter Peyser
Personal details
Richard Lawrence Ottinger

(1929-01-27) January 27, 1929 (age 89)
New York City, New York
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)June Ottinger
Alma materCornell University
Harvard Law School
Georgetown University
ProfessionAttorney, educator, politician
Military service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Air Force
Years of service1955–1957
RankUS Air Force O3 shoulderboard rotated.svg Captain

Richard Lawrence Ottinger (born January 27, 1929) is an American legal educator and politician from New York. A Democrat, he served in the United States House of Representatives for eight terms, from 1965 to 1971 and from 1975 to 1985.

Early years[edit]

Richard Lawrence Ottinger was born in New York City, the son of businessman Lawrence Ottinger, founder of U.S. Plywood, and nephew of Albert Ottinger, the Republican Attorney General of New York from 1925 to 1928.

He attended the public schools of Scarsdale, New York and graduated from the Loomis School, in Windsor, Connecticut in 1946. He received a bachelor of arts degree from Cornell University in 1950 and graduated from Harvard Law School in 1953. He also studied international law at Georgetown University.

He served in the United States Air Force from 1955 to 1957, and was discharged as a captain. He was admitted to the New York bar and practiced international and corporate law. He was one of the founders and the second staff member of the Peace Corps, serving as director of programs for the west coast of South America from 1961 to 1964.

Political career[edit]

1969, Congressional Pictorial Directory

In the 1964 elections, he was elected as a Democrat to the 89th United States Congress and was re-elected twice in 1966 and 1968. After the 1964 run, Ottinger was criticized for using a loophole in election laws to spend $193,000 of his own money to get around a limit of $8,000 in the race. He set up multiple committees and gave money of all of them. Most prominently, Ottinger's mother, Louise, and sister, Patricia Heath, had set up 22 different committees that in turn donated $6,000 apiece to his campaign.[1]

In the 1970 elections, he gave up his House seat to run on the Democratic ticket for United States Senator from New York. In the 1970 election, Ottinger split the liberal vote with the Republican (and Liberal-endorsed) nominee, incumbent Sen. Charles Goodell (who was appointed by Gov. Nelson Rockefeller after the assassination of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy), and both were defeated by the Conservative nominee, James L. Buckley in an unusual three-way race.

In 1972, he sought to return to his old congressional seat, but lost in a hotly contested election to the Republican incumbent Rep. Peter A. Peyser. His comeback effort was successful in 1974, when he was elected to the House from a different district. He was re-elected to the four succeeding Congresses (in 1976, 1978, 1980, and 1982), retiring in 1985.


Richard divorced his first wife, Betty Ann Ottinger, and later remarried to June Ottinger. He has 3 sons: Ronald, Randy and Larry; and one daughter Jenny.

Subsequent career[edit]

After retiring from Congress, Ottinger became a professor at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law,[2] founding an environmental law program there, and served as the law school dean from 1994 to 1999. He currently serves as Dean Emeritus.

See also[edit]


  • United States Congress. "Richard Ottinger (id: O000134)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Robert Barry
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 25th congressional district

January 3, 1965 – January 3, 1971
Succeeded by
Peter Peyser
Preceded by
Ogden Reid
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 24th congressional district

January 3, 1975 – January 3, 1983
Succeeded by
Gerald Solomon
Preceded by
Theodore Weiss
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 20th congressional district

January 3, 1983 – January 3, 1985
Succeeded by
Joseph DioGuardi
Party political offices
Preceded by
Robert F. Kennedy
Democratic nominee for
U.S. Senator from New York (Class 1)

Succeeded by
Daniel Patrick Moynihan