Robert Torricelli

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Robert Torricelli
Robert Torricelli.jpg
United States Senator
from New Jersey
In office
January 3, 1997 – January 3, 2003
Preceded by Bill Bradley
Succeeded by Frank Lautenberg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 9th district
In office
January 3, 1983 – January 3, 1997
Preceded by Harold Hollenbeck
Succeeded by Steve Rothman
Personal details
Born Robert Guy Torricelli
(1951-08-27) August 27, 1951 (age 64)
Paterson, New Jersey
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Susan Holloway (divorced)
Alma mater Rutgers University (BA, JD)
Harvard University (MPA)
Religion Methodist

Robert Guy Torricelli (born August 27, 1951), nicknamed "the Torch," is an American politician who served as the United States senator from New Jersey from 1997 to 2003 and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New Jersey's 9th district from 1983 to 1997. From 1999 to 2000, he served as the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Raised in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, the son of a librarian and an attorney, Torricelli's interest in politics was fueled by history lessons that he took from his mother's school library. As a teenager he visited Georgia to see the reality of segregation and traveled to Israel to visit the holy city of Jerusalem. He earned a Bachelor of Arts and a Juris Doctor at Rutgers University and a Master of Public Administration at Harvard University. While at Rutgers, he was elected class president his junior and senior year and worked on Brendan Byrne's 1973 campaign for governor and as deputy legislative counsel to Governor Byrne.

During the Carter administration, Torricelli served as a counsel to Vice President Walter Mondale. He was a member of the Rutgers University Board of Governors from 1977 to 1982. In 1982, he was elected to the 98th United States Congress and for each successive Congress until 1996, when he was elected to the United States Senate. In the Senate, Torricelli was a member of the Governmental Affairs Committee, Finance Committee, and Rules Committee.

Torricelli helped rewrite federal bankruptcy rules, assuring federal financing for hospitals. A leading voice for tax cuts, he was the author of the provisions reducing taxes for middle income families and making college tuition tax deductible. He obtained over $1 billion in federal funding for the construction of affordable housing in New Jersey. Additionally, Torricelli established the federal urban park restoration program and secured funding for law enforcement and education, leading to the addition of thousands more police officers and reductions in class sizes.

Education and personal life[edit]

Torricelli was born in Paterson, New Jersey, the son of Betty (Lotz), a school librarian, and Salvatore Torricelli, a lawyer.[1][2] After graduation from Storm King School in Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York, Torricelli attended Rutgers University both for undergraduate and law school, receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1974 and his law degree in 1977. He was admitted to the New Jersey bar in 1978 and later attended Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, earning a master's in public administration in 1980.

Torricelli was married to Susan Holloway, from whom he is now divorced.[3] He reportedly has since dated Mick Jagger's former wife Bianca Jagger and Ronald Perelman's ex-wife Patricia Duff,[4] as well as conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham,[5] and U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell.[6]

Torricelli is Italian American on his father's side.[7] His religious affiliation is United Methodist.[8]

Early political career[edit]

Torricelli was an assistant to the Governor of New Jersey Brendan Byrne from 1975 to 1977. In 1978 he served on the staff of Vice President Walter Mondale, and managed the Carter-Mondale campaign in the Illinois primary, at the age of 28. At the 1980 Democratic National Convention, he served the Carter-Mondale campaign on the Rules Committee. In 1982, Torricelli leveraged his political contacts into a run for U.S. Congress, defeating incumbent Republican Harold Hollenbeck 53% to 46%.

Torricelli served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1983 to 1997 representing New Jersey's 9th congressional district, and then as a senator from 1997 to 2003.

Senate career[edit]

He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996, defeating Republican Congressman Dick Zimmer to obtain the seat vacated by the retirement of Democratic Senator Bill Bradley.

The Justice Department won guilty pleas from six donors who had made illegal contributions to Torricelli's 1996 Senate campaign.[9]

In 2000, he headed the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and helped the Democrats gain four Senate seats.

Late in an increasingly competitive race against Republican Doug Forrester in 2002, Torricelli suddenly withdrew after disclosure of illegal contributions to his campaign by David Chang, a businessman connected to North Korea.[10] Torricelli had previously denied this and a number of other charges. In his withdrawal speech on September 30, 2002, he stated that despite leaving public office in a different way than he had planned, he was proud of his service. Shortly thereafter, the New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the Democratic Party could legally replace Torricelli's name on the ballot with that of former U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg,[11] ironically a longtime Torricelli nemesis, with whom he had often publicly feuded. New Jersey Republicans had contested the Torricelli–Lautenberg swap on the grounds that the deadline for ballot changes had long passed. It seemed apparent to many that Torricelli had only made his decision after local polls showed, for the first time, that the scandal had damaged his re-election chances beyond repair.[12]

Ethics violations[edit]

On July 30, 2002, Torricelli received a formal letter of admonishment from the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Ethics, for his involvement with David Chang, and for the acceptance of gifts including a CD player, television, and earrings.[13]

Post-Senate career[edit]

He is now a lobbyist and a partner in Panepinto Properties, a Jersey City real estate developer. He was again the subject of controversy in 2007 when it was revealed that he was spending some of the $2.9 million left over from his Senate campaign on donations to political candidates with ties to his business interests.[14]


  1. ^
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ BRETT PULLEY (October 31, 1996). "Torricelli's Wide-Reaching Goals Inspire and Enrage". New York Times. Retrieved 3 September 2012. 
  4. ^ "For Love And Money". May 27, 2001. Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
  5. ^ GEORGE RUSH AND JOANNA MOLLOY WITH MARCUS BARAM AND MARC S. MALKIN (August 16, 1999). "Calvin Model Fears Rejected Pix May Bring Overexposure". Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
  6. ^ LLOYD GROVE WITH HUDSON MORGAN (May 24, 2005). "Kim Tapes Could Be Lil' Trouble". Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
  7. ^ U.S. Congress Gains Two Italian-Americans: Italian-American Congressional Caucus Gains Two Members in the House, Keeps Most Incumbents, Order Sons of Italy in America, dated November 10, 1998.
  8. ^ "Sen. Robert G. Torricelli (D)". Retrieved 3 September 2012. 
  9. ^ Kocieniewski, David (6 January 2001). "As Bush Rises, Torricelli Cools Partisan Fire". New York Times. Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  10. ^ Schmidt, Susan; Grimaldi, James V. (May 13, 2001). "Torricelli and the Money Man". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 22, 2010. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ Kwame Holman looks at Sen. Robert Torricelli's sudden decision to end his bid to retain his seat, Online Newshour, September 30, 2002.
  13. ^ Letter of Admonishment
  14. ^ Hernandez, Raymond; Chen, David W. (2007-08-24). "Now a Lobbyist, an Ex-Senator Uses Campaign Money". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-23. 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Harold Hollenbeck
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 9th congressional district

Succeeded by
Steve Rothman
United States Senate
Preceded by
Bill Bradley
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from New Jersey
Served alongside: Frank Lautenberg, Jon Corzine
Succeeded by
Frank Lautenberg
Party political offices
Preceded by
Bill Bradley
Democratic Nominee for the U.S. Senate (Class 2) from New Jersey
Succeeded by
Frank Lautenberg
Preceded by
Bob Kerrey
Chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
Succeeded by
Patty Murray