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Rodney Frelinghuysen

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Rodney Frelinghuysen
Rodney Frelinghuysen official photo, 114th Congress.jpg
Chair of the House Appropriations Committee
Assumed office
January 3, 2017
Preceded by Hal Rogers
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 11th district
Assumed office
January 3, 1995
Preceded by Dean Gallo
Member of the New Jersey General Assembly
from the 25th district
In office
January 10, 1984 – January 3, 1995
Preceded by James Barry
Succeeded by Anthony Bucco
Personal details
Born Rodney Procter Frelinghuysen
(1946-04-29) April 29, 1946 (age 70)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Virginia Robinson (1980–present)
Children 2
Education Hobart College (BA)
Trinity College, Connecticut
Website House website
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1969–1971
Rank E-5 - SPC5.PNG Specialist 5[1]
Unit 93rd Engineer Battalion
Battles/wars Vietnam War

Rodney Procter Frelinghuysen /ˈfrlɪŋˌhsən/[2] (born April 29, 1946) is the U.S. Representative for New Jersey's 11th congressional district, serving since 1995. The district includes most of Morris County, an affluent suburban county west of New York City. It also includes some of the wealthier areas near Newark and Paterson, and is one of the richest congressional districts in the nation in terms of median income. A member of the Republican Party, he also serves as Chair of the House Appropriations Committee since 2017.

Family and early life[edit]

Frelinghuysen was born in New York City to Peter Frelinghuysen Jr., a New Jersey politician and Beatrice Sterling Procter, an heir to the Procter & Gamble fortune.[3] Frelinghuysen is a member of a family long prominent in New Jersey politics, one which was ranked the seventh greatest American political dynasty by Stephen H. Hess, senior fellow emeritus at the Brookings Institution, and author of "America's Political Dynasties".[4]

His father, Peter Frelinghuysen, Jr., served as the U.S. Representative from New Jersey's 5th congressional district from 1953 to 1975, representing much of the same area Rodney does today. He is the great-great-grandson of Frederick Theodore Frelinghuysen, who was a U.S. Senator for New Jersey and U.S. Secretary of State in the administration of President Chester A. Arthur. His great-great-great-uncle, the adoptive father of Frederick Theodore, Theodore Frelinghuysen was a U.S. Senator for New Jersey, served as president of both New York University and Rutgers College, and was the vice-presidential running mate of Henry Clay on the Whig ticket in the presidential election of 1844. Frelinghuysen's great-great-great-great-grandfather Frederick Frelinghuysen was one of the framers of the first Constitution of New Jersey, a U.S. Senator for New Jersey, and a soldier in the American Revolutionary War.[5] Aside from the Frelinghuysen name, he is also a great-great-great-grandson of Peter Ballantine, founder of Ballantine Brewery in Newark. On his mother's side, he is a great-great-grandson of William Procter, co-founder of Procter & Gamble.[5]

He attended St. Mark's School, an exclusive Episcopal preparatory school in Southborough, Massachusetts.[6] Rejected from Princeton,[7] the alma mater of his father and grandfather, Frelinghuysen instead matriculated at Hobart College in New York. There he served as president of the Kappa Alpha Society and earned a BA in American history in 1969.[8]

Frelinghuysen next enrolled in a graduate program at Trinity College but was soon drafted into the United States Army. Following basic training at Fort Dix, he was assigned as a clerk to the commanding officer of the 93rd Engineer Battalion, which was primarily responsible for building roads and water supply systems in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam.[8][9]

Local and state political career[edit]

After his military service, Frelinghuysen was hired by then-Morris County Freeholder Director Dean A. Gallo to be the county's state and federal aid coordinator and administrative assistant.[10] He held this position until 1974, when he was elected to serve as a Morris County Freeholder. He served three terms as a member of the Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders, and was chosen to be its director in 1980.[11]

In 1983, Frelinghuysen was elected to the New Jersey General Assembly, representing the 25th legislative district. Frelinghuysen served in the Assembly until 1994. He was Chairman of the Assembly Appropriations Committee during the 1988–89 legislative session.[11]

In 1990 he ran in the Republican primary for New Jersey's 12th congressional district against Dick Zimmer and Phil McConkey. During the race, the Frelinghuysen campaign "broke ground in high-tech politicking" when it sent voters a seven-minute video cassette of Frelinghuysen. The video, which contained photographs of Frelinghuysen in Vietnam and praise from former Gov. Tom Kean, served as a preemptive tactic against opponents' attempts to characterize Frelinghuysen as "an irrelevant debutante".[12] Frelinghuysen finished in third place.

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]


In late August 1994, U.S. Congressman Dean Gallo, the six-term Republican incumbent of New Jersey's Eleventh Congressional District, announced his intention to withdraw from the upcoming election for medical reasons (he had recently been diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer and died two days before the election). As Gallo had already defeated three opponents in a hard-fought primary the previous June, his withdrawal triggered a convention of Republican committee members from the district's municipalities. Frelinghuysen, who had been Gallo's former employee and fellow Morris County freeholder and state assemblyman, sought the committee's nomination at Gallo's request, and was chosen to be the Republican nominee for the district.[13]

Frelinghuysen went on to defeat former Democratic State Senator Frank Herbert 71% to 28% in the November 1994 election.[14] However, the 11th is one of the most Republican districts in the Northeast, and Frelinghuysen had effectively clinched a seat in congress by winning the Republican nomination. He has been reelected nine times with no substantive opposition, never dropping below 59% of the vote.

He has been challenged in the Republican primary three times: in 2008, 2010, and 2014. In 2008, he defeated Kate Erber in the June primary 87% to 13%.[15] In 2010, he defeated Richard Luzzi 76% to 24%.[16] In 2014, he defeated Rick Van Glahn 67% to 33%.[17]

In 2000, liberal activist Michael Moore attempted to have a ficus challenge Frelinghuysen's unopposed re-election in order to make the point that most Members of Congress "run unopposed in their primaries and 95% are re-elected every time in the general election", adding "we think it's time to point out to the Frelinghuysen family that we live in a democracy, not a dynasty."[18]

Campaign financing[edit]

Rodney Frelinghuysen's campaigns have been heavily supported by contributions from the aerospace and defense industrial sector;[19] seven of his 2012 campaign's top ten donors came from this sector,[20] and he received more defense funding in the 2012 electoral cycle than any other representative from New Jersey.[21] His campaigns have been heavily supported by contributions from pharmaceutical and health care industries.[19][22] Eight of the 14 bills sponsored by Mr. Frelinghuysen in the last congressional session (112th) were attempts to suspend duties on chemicals used by these industries.[23]

Election statistics[edit]

New Jersey's 11th congressional district: Results 1994–2016 [24][25][26][27]
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
1994 Frank Herbert 50,211 28% Rodney Frelinghuysen 127,868 71% Mary Frueholz LaRouche Was Right 1,065 1% *
1996 Chris Evangel 78,742 31% Rodney Frelinghuysen 169,091 66% Ed DeMott Independent 2,870 1% Austin S. Lett Independent 2,618 1% *
1998 John P. Scollo 44,160 30% Rodney Frelinghuysen 100,910 68% Austin S. Lett Independent 1,737 1% Agnes James Independent 1,409 1% *
2000 John P. Scollo 80,958 30% Rodney Frelinghuysen 186,140 68% John Pickarski Independent 5,199 2% James Spinosa Independent 1,541 1%
2002 Vij Pawar 48,477 26% Rodney Frelinghuysen 132,938 72% Richard S. Roth Libertarian 2,263 1%
2004 James W. Buell 91,811 31% Rodney Frelinghuysen 200,915 68% John Mele Immigration Moratorium Now 1,746 1% Austin S. Lett Libertarian 1,530 1%
2006 Tom Wyka 74,414 37% Rodney Frelinghuysen 126,085 62% Richard S. Roth Libertarian 1,730 1% John Mele Constitution 842 <1%
2008 Tom Wyka 105,095 37% Rodney Frelinghuysen 177,059 62% Chandler Tedholm For the People 3,526 1%
2010 Douglas Herbert 55,472 31% Rodney Frelinghuysen 122,149 67% Jim Gawron Libertarian 4,179 2%
2012 John Arvanites 123,897 40.0% Rodney Frelinghuysen 182,237 58.8%
2014 Mark Dunec 65,477 37.4% Rodney Frelinghuysen 104,455 62.6%
2016 Joseph Wenzel 130,162 38.9% Rodney Frelinghuysen 194,299 58% Thomas DePasquale Financial Independence Party 7,056 2.1% Jeff Hetrick Libertarian 3,475 1%

*Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 1994, Stuart Bacha received 436 votes. In 1996, Victoria S. Spruiell received 1,837 votes. In 1998, Stephen A. Bauer received 755 votes. In 2000, Ficus received between 68 and 150 votes.

Committee assignments[edit]

  • Committee on Appropriations (Chairman)
    • As chair of the full committee, Rep. Frelinghuysen may sit as an ex officio member of all subcommittees

Coalitions and caucuses[edit]

Legislative record[edit]

Since the start of his congressional tenure in 1995, Frelinghuysen has been the chief sponsor of 123 bills. Of these, four have become law:

  • H.R. 1366 (104th): To authorize the extension of time limitation for the FERC-issued hydroelectric license for the Mount Hope Waterpower Project.
  • H.R. 459 (106th): To extend the deadline under the Federal Power Act for FERC Project No. 9401, the Mount Hope Waterpower Project.
  • H.R. 1964 (108th): Highlands Conservation Act
  • H.R. 4850 (108th): District of Columbia Appropriations Act, 2005

He has been the chief sponsor of nine resolutions, none of which passed.[23] He introduced an amendment to the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013, the initial Hurricane Sandy relief legislation, which added $33.7 billion to the $17 billion initially allocated by the act. The amendment passed the House in a 228–192 vote, with the support of 38 Republicans and 190 Democrats.[28] The amended act was not significantly modified by the Senate, and was signed into law.

Political positions[edit]

As of March 2, 2017, Frelinghuysen has voted with his party in 98.4% of votes so far in the current session of Congress and voted in line with President Trump's position in 100% of the votes.[29][30] From the start of his tenure in the 104th Congress to the current 113th, Frelinghuysen has voted with his party 90% of the time.[31]

Frelinghuysen's voting record has been moderate.[32][33] He is a member of the Republican Main Street Partnership.[34][35]

During the 2012 election season, Frelinghuysen rejected claims from Planned Parenthood leaders and progressive activists that he "toes the line of Republican leadership" and had aligned himself with the Tea Party movement.[34]

Because Frelinghuysen is less conservative than many members of the Republican caucus, he was elevated to the Appropriations Committee chairship only based on his assurance to the conservatives that he would be willing to set aside his personal views to implement party policy. One conservative on the committee, Representative Robert Aderholt, said, "One of the things we had discussed going into this, when he wanted to take the chairmanship, was that at the end of the day he understood that when he was negotiating these bills he'd be negotiating on behalf of his conference, as opposed to his own philosophy."[36]

In a tele-townhall on March 20, 2017, he stated that was "not sold" on attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) and that he had not seen any evidence to support claims that President Trump was wiretapped during the campaign. He believes Trump should release his tax returns, but does not support attempts to compel their release, adding “I need to support the Chair’s ruling regardless of what the issue is.”[37]


Frelinghuysen's record on abortion was once considered moderate; he is a member of Republican Majority For Choice and Republicans for Choice. In 2003 he received a 50% from the anti-abortion rights NRLC and a 30% from the pro-abortion rights NARAL.[38] [39]

In recent years, however, his stance has shifted; from 2010-12, his NARAL rating averaged just 7%, indicating an anti-abortion rights stance.[40] He and fellow New Jersey Republican Leonard Lance were singled out by NARAL President Nancy Keenan over their support of H.R. 3 "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions Act".[35]

Frelinghuysen voted in 2015 to strip all federal funding from Planned Parenthood, despite having opposed similar measures in 2011, 2009 and 2007.[41]

Donald Trump[edit]

Frelinghuysen endorsed Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.[42] In February 2017, he voted against resolution that would have directed the House to request 10 years of Trump's tax returns, which would then have been reviewed by the House Ways and Means Committee in a closed session.[43]


Frelinghuysen is a supporter of earmarking, calling the practice a "constitutional responsibility."[44] He is one of the most prolific earmarkers in the House, consistently ranking in the top 5% in terms of dollars procured. In fiscal year 2008 he ranked 21st, sponsoring or co-sponsoring 44 earmarks totaling $88 million; in fiscal year 2009 he ranked 12th, with 45 earmarks totaling $119 million; and in fiscal year 2010 he ranked 21st with 39 earmarks totaling $76 million. During the same period, Frelinghuysen was the top earmarker among New Jersey lawmakers.[19] The majority of his earmarks were for defense-related expenses.[45]

Environment and energy[edit]

He opposes federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.[38] In February 2017, he voted to repeal a rule that required coal companies to restore streams and mined areas to their pre-development conditions. In February 2017, he voted in favor of repealing a rule that required energy companies to disclose payments to foreign governments.[30] The Sunlight Foundation pointed out that among the 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Frelinghuysen has the third-highest amount of investment in oil stocks.[46]

Frelinghuysen tours a Superfund site in his district

Frelinghuysen's scores from the League of Conservation Voters dropped sharply after 2008, from the 42–67% range during 1999–2008 to 21–23% during 2009–12. During the 2011–12 Congress, his League of Conservation Voters rating was 11th out of thirteen members of the House from New Jersey, and 4th among the six Republicans from the state.[47]

Other issues[edit]

Townhall meetings[edit]

Since the 2016 election, a group called NJ 11th for Change has organized protests over Frelinghuysen for failing to hold any in-person town hall meetings since 2013.[49][50]

Awards and honors[edit]

In June 2013, Frelinghuysen was awarded the Navy Distinguished Public Service Award, the Navy's highest civilian honor, for the "long and selfless service" he had provided to the force, ensuring it had necessary resources and supporting its members' quality of life.[51]

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus speaks with U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen before presenting him with the Navy Distinguished Public Service Medal, at the U.S. Capitol in 2013.

Frelinghuysen was awarded the Vietnam Service Medal for his service during the Vietnam War.[1]

Personal life[edit]

At the start of the 112th Congress, Frelinghuysen was ranked the ninth wealthiest member of congress, with an estimated personal wealth between $20 million and $65 million.[52]

A CQ Roll Call report on Frelinghuysen's wealth in 2010 indicated that about a third stemmed from personal and family trust investments in Procter & Gamble stock. He also owns multiple properties, including nearly 18 acres of undeveloped land in Frelinghuysen Township, New Jersey.[53]

On May 24, 2007, Frelinghuysen chased down a pickpocket who had stolen his wallet near his home in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Two Washington police officers saw the chase and arrested the 18-year-old suspect who had been caught by the 61-year-old congressman.[54]


  1. ^ a b "Once a Soldier... Always a Soldier" (PDF). Legislative Agenda. Association of the United States Army. 2011. Retrieved January 27, 2013. 
  2. ^ As pronounced in "Repeal and Replace ACA".
  3. ^ Fried, Joseph P. (2011-05-23). "Peter Frelinghuysen Jr., 95, Longtime N.J. Congressman, Dies". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-03-02. 
  4. ^ Hess, Stephen (September 13, 2009). "America's Top Dynasty?". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 9, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "frelinghuysen". Retrieved 2017-02-22. 
  6. ^ "Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen on Mitt, Ryan and Clint". Morristown Green. Retrieved August 9, 2013. 
  7. ^ Golden, Daniel (2009). The Price of Admission: How America's Ruling Class Buys Its Way into Elite Colleges – and Who Gets Left Outside the Gates. Random House LLC. p. 226. ISBN 0307497372. 
  8. ^ a b Frelinghuysen, Rodney. "Profiles, '69: Rodney Frelinghuysen". Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Political Science Department. Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Retrieved January 2, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Congressman and His Army Commander Reunite During ABA Day After 42 Years". Retrieved August 9, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Rodney P. Frelinghuysen (R)". Elections 2004. The Washington Post. Archived from the original on February 1, 2014. Retrieved August 9, 2013. 
  11. ^ a b "Rodney Frelinghuysen: Biography". Archived from the original on November 11, 2013. Retrieved August 29, 2013. 
  12. ^ Polman, Dick. "Lights, Camera, Political Action: Campaigning In The Video Age". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved August 9, 2013. 
  13. ^ Sullivan, Joseph (August 24, 1994). "Rep. Gallo Drops Out of Race, Citing Problems With Health". The New York Times. Retrieved August 9, 2013. 
  14. ^ "NJ District 11 Race". Our Campaigns. November 8, 1994. Retrieved 2017-02-22. 
  15. ^ "NJ District 11 - R Primary Race". Our Campaigns. June 3, 2008. Retrieved 2017-02-22. 
  16. ^ "NJ District 11 - R Primary Race". June 8, 2010. Retrieved 2017-02-22. 
  17. ^ "NJ District 11 - R Primary Race". Our Campaigns. June 3, 2014. Retrieved 2017-02-22. 
  18. ^ Ficus Plant Announces Candidacy For Congress Archived January 19, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  19. ^ a b c "Frelinghuysen gets cash from energy and defense industries (My Central Jersey)". In The News. TaxpayersforCommonSense. October 21, 2010. Retrieved August 29, 2013. 
  20. ^ "Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen 2011–2012". Retrieved August 4, 2013. 
  21. ^ Jurimas, Troy. "Defense Contractors Own Our Elected Officials (Amash Amendment Vote)". Retrieved August 4, 2013. 
  22. ^ "Rodney Felinguysen". Cycle Fundraising, 2011–2012, Campaign Cmte and Leadership PAC. Retrieved August 8, 2013. 
  23. ^ a b "Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen". Retrieved August 7, 2013. 
  24. ^ "Election Statistics". Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Archived from the original on December 26, 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-10. 
  25. ^ NJ Secretary of State 2010 election results
  26. ^ "Election Statistics – US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives". Karen Haas, Clerk of the United States House of Representatives. Retrieved January 23, 2017. 
  27. ^ "Rodney Frelinghuysen - Ballotpedia". Ballotpedia. Retrieved January 23, 2017. 
  28. ^ Kasperowicz, Pete. "House accepts $33.7B Sandy bill amendment". The Hill's Floor Action Blog. The Hill. Retrieved February 23, 2017. 
  29. ^ Willis, Derek. "Represent". ProPublica. Retrieved 2017-03-02. 
  30. ^ a b c Bycoffe, Aaron (2017-01-30). "Tracking Rodney P. Frelinghuysen In The Age Of Trump". FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved 2017-03-02. 
  31. ^ "US Congress Votes database". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 8, 2013. 
  32. ^ " Rodney Frelinghuysen". On The Issues. July 17, 2016. Retrieved March 3, 2017. 
  33. ^ Herb Jackson (October 25, 2016). "Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen says he's voting for Trump". North Jersey Media Group. Retrieved March 3, 2017. 
  34. ^ a b Linhorst, Michael (October 12, 2012). "Frelinghuysen insists he's a moderate". The Record, Retrieved August 9, 2013. 
  35. ^ a b "False Moderates Lance, Frelinghuysen Advance the War on Women with Support of Extreme Anti-Choice H.R.3". NARAL Pro-Choice America. Retrieved August 9, 2013. 
  36. ^ Jackson, Herb (April 6, 2017). "Report: GOP heat on Frelinghuysen over health bill". North Jersey Media Group. Retrieved 2017-04-06. 
  37. ^ Coughlin, Kevin. "Rodney Frelinghuysen 'not sold' on healthcare bill, supports NIH, public radio; Trump tweets 'out of control'". Retrieved 2017-03-22. 
  38. ^ a b c d "The Voter's Self Defense System". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 2017-03-02. 
  39. ^ "Rodney Frelinghuysen on Abortion". Retrieved 2017-02-22. 
  40. ^ "Project Vote Smart". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved August 9, 2013. 
  41. ^ Jackson, Herb. "Video cited in Frelinghuysen's stark position change". The Record. Retrieved April 19, 2016. 
  42. ^ "How Trump's comments are being used against Republicans in N.J.". Retrieved 2017-03-02. 
  43. ^ "These are all the Republicans who don't want you to see Donald Trump's tax returns". indy100. 2017-02-28. Retrieved 2017-03-01. 
  44. ^ "Who Runs Gov: Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) U.S. Representative (since January 1995)". The Washington Post. December 22, 2011. Retrieved August 9, 2013. 
  45. ^ "Rodney Frelinghuysen: Earmarks (Fiscal Year 2010)"., The Center for Responsive Politics. Retrieved August 9, 2013. 
  46. ^ "The Sunlight Foundation Blog – Oil Industry Influence: Personal Finances'". Sunlight Foundation. August 8, 2008. Retrieved August 8, 2008. 
  47. ^ "League of Conservation Voters - Turning Environmental Values Into National Priorities". Retrieved 2017-02-22. 
  48. ^ a b c "Rodney Frelinghuysen on the Issues". Retrieved 2017-03-02. 
  49. ^ "Why Republicans Should Be Scared of Town Hall Protests - VICE". Vice. Retrieved 2017-02-23. 
  50. ^ "11th District protesters want face-to-face with Frelinghuysen". New Jersey Herald. Retrieved 2017-02-23. 
  51. ^ Garber, Phil (June 21, 2013). "Navy's highest civilian honor goes to Frelinghuysen". Retrieved July 20, 2013. 
  52. ^ Besnainou, David and Sarah Parnass. "Top 5 Political Heirs". ABC News. Retrieved August 8, 2013. 
  53. ^ Toscano, Paul. "The Richest Members of the US Congress 2011". CNBC. Archived from the original on February 24, 2017. Retrieved August 9, 2013. 
  54. ^ "Congressman chases down pickpocket". Reuters. 2007-05-25. Retrieved February 23, 2017. 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Dean Gallo
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 11th congressional district

Preceded by
Hal Rogers
Chair of the House Appropriations Committee
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Mike Doyle
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Sheila Jackson Lee