Ted Poe

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Ted Poe
Ted Poe Official.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 2nd district
Assumed office
January 3, 2005
Preceded by Jim Turner
Personal details
Born Lloyd Theodore Poe
(1948-09-10) September 10, 1948 (age 68)
Temple, Texas, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Carol Poe
Residence Humble, Texas, U.S.
Alma mater Abilene Christian University, University of Houston
Occupation Attorney, judge
Website House website
Military service
Service/branch  United States Air Force
Years of service 1970–1976
Unit Air Force Reserve Command emblem Reserves

Lloyd Theodore Poe (born September 10, 1948) is an American Republican politician who represents Texas's 2nd congressional district in the United States House of Representatives. The district includes many eastern and northern Houston suburbs. He is the first Republican to represent this particular district.

Early life[edit]

Poe was born in Temple in Bell County, Texas, but attended Spring Woods High School in Houston. Poe resides in Humble, Texas. He graduated in 1970, with a degree in political science from Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas; he was his class president. In 1973, he graduated with a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Houston Law Center. He participated in the school's honor society. From 1970 to 1976, he served in the United States Air Force Reserve’s C-130 Unit at Houston’s Ellington Air Force Base.

Judicial career[edit]

After serving as a chief felony prosecutor in Harris County (Houston) for eight years, Poe was appointed a felony court judge in Harris County in 1981, becoming one of the youngest judges in the state. In this position, he gained national prominence for his unusual criminal sentences that included ordering thieves to carry signs in front of stores from which they stole.[1] However, in at least one case, Poe amended the sentence afterwards without notifying the victim's family.[2]

Elections to United States Congress[edit]

In November 2004, Poe ran for the U.S. House in the 2nd District. The district had previously been the 9th, represented by four-term Democrat Nick Lampson. However, as the result of a controversial mid-decade redistricting, the new 2nd was considerably more Republican than the old 9th. It lost Galveston and the area around the Johnson Space Center, while picking up several heavily Republican areas around Houston. Poe won 55% of the vote to Lampson's 43%. While Lampson trounced Poe in Beaumont and Port Arthur, Poe swamped Lampson in the Harris County portion of the district.[3]

Poe made border security a centerpiece of his re-election strategy, calling for "more [National] Guardsmen on the border front".[4]

In November 2006, Poe won a second term with 65.6% of the vote, defeating Democrat Gary Binderim, who took 32.7%.[5]

In November 2008, Poe did not face a Democratic challenger in the general election. He defeated Libertarian Craig Wolfe, taking 88.9% of the vote to Wolfe's 11.1%.[5]

Committee assignments[edit]

In addition to Poe's committee assignments, he is the founder and co-chair of the Congressional Victim's Rights Caucus.[6][7] Since 2012, he has been the head of the Congressional Serbian Caucus.[8] He is also a member of the Republican Study Committee, the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus, the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus and the Tea Party Caucus.

Political positions[edit]

Ted Poe speaking at a Tea Party in Texas in 2009


Poe is a signer of Americans for Tax Reform's Taxpayer Protection Pledge.[9]


Poe received a 0 rating from the abortion rights group NARAL in 2007 and a rating of 100 from the National Right to Life Committee in 2007–2008.[10] He also voted for the Prohibiting Federal Funding of Abortion Services amendment on November 7, 2009.[11]

Fiscal policy[edit]

In 2008, the National Taxpayers Union, an organization that supports "lower taxes and smaller government", gave Poe the grade B+, and in 2007 received a rating of 90 from the group Americans for Tax Reform, an organization that advocates "taxes [that] are simpler, [and] flatter".[12] Poe voted against the 2009 Economic Stimulus Package (HR 1) and the 2010 Concurrent Budget Resolution (S. Con. Res. 13).[13] The Club for Growth PAC gave him a power ranking of 85.85%.[12]


Poe favors repealing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).[14] Poe does not support what he calls "government-run health care".[15] Poe voted "Nay" on the Health Care and Insurance Law Amendments bill on November 7, 2009.[16] In 2008 Poe voted for the Medicare Bill (HR 6331).[16] Poe supports healthcare reform that would "Allow insurance to be purchased across state lines, provide for a safety net for catastrophic injury or illness…and allow for a health savings account".[17] Poe resigned from the Freedom_Caucus in March 2017, after the Caucus's opposition to the American Health Care Act of 2017 contributed to Speaker Ryan's decision to pull the bill.[18] Poe supported the March 2017 version of the American Health Care Act before its collapse.[19]

On May 4, 2017, he voted to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and pass the American Health Care Act.[20][21]


Poe is an advocate of stronger action against illegal immigration and increased security on the Mexico–United States border.[22] He voted for the Secure Fence Act of 2006 and against the DREAM Act when it was introduced in 2010.[23] He opposed the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, calling it "an imperial decree" that violated immigration law.[24]

Poe co-sponsored, along with fellow Republican Representative Steve King, the "Deport Foreign Convicted Criminals Act of 2011" (H.R. 3256, which would require the U.S. government to deny certain visas to citizens of nations that refuse to accept convicted foreign nationals that the U.S. is seeking to deport. If passed, the law would mandate visa denials to nationals of 153 nations worldwide. Poe's bill was opposed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association, which noted that the bill would block visas issued to citizens of American allies, including Israel, Britain, and Canada. The bill was also criticized by Democratic Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, who called it "the most stupid bill I've ever seen" and stated it would wipe out the U.S. tourism industry.[25]

Human trafficking[edit]

Poe introduced the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2013 and the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015, a bill to combat human trafficking.[26][27][28] The 2015 bill passed the House in a 420-3 vote and, following a delay, passed the Senate in a 99-0 vote. The bill was signed into law by President Barack Obama in May 2015.[28]


In 1998, Judge Poe was known for sentences that involved a measure of humiliation, including ordering offenders to shovel manure, a practice which led to the nickname "The King of Shame."[29] Poe explained, "The people I see have too good a self-esteem. I want them to feel guilty about what they've done. I don't want 'em to leave the courthouse having warm fuzzies inside." [30] Poe's "public notice" sentences included ordering a drunk driver to stand outside a bar, wearing a sign that said "I killed two people while driving drunk."[31]

As a state judge, in November 2002, Poe ruled that he would permit the PBS documentary show Frontline to videotape jury deliberations of a capital murder case.[32] There was considerable concern that this would affect the result of the trial, possibly by skewing the composition of the jury, and the decision was appealed by Harris County prosecuters.[33][34] The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the state's highest criminal appellate court, ruled against Poe's decision and prohibited the videotaping.[35]

On May 7, 2007, while speaking on the floor of the house, Poe used a quote from Civil War Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest when describing the military strategy that Poe felt the United States should have followed in Iraq. Forrest's maxim was to: “Git thar furstest with the mostest.” The controversy lies in the personal history of General Forrest. He was Confederate Commander during the Fort Pillow massacre in which the wholesale murder of surrendering Union troops, especially black soldiers, has drawn permanent infamy.[36] After his military duty was over, he became the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan (though soon after called for the Klan to disband).

Poe speaking in 2009

On June 7, 2009, Poe signed on as a co-sponsor of H.R. 1503, the bill introduced as a reaction to conspiracy theories which claimed that U.S. President Barack Obama is not a natural born U.S. citizen.[37] On July 23, 2009, he appeared on CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight in which he claimed that Certifications of Live Birth issued by Hawaii State Department of Health cannot be used to obtain a U.S. passport, which is untrue.[38][39][40] His support of H.R. 1503 and public advocacy for it earned him a negative editorial in the Houston Chronicle.[41]

In August 2011 AlterNet reported that Poe, along with John Culberson and Michael McCaul, was attempting to remove the right of deceased soldiers' families to choose which prayers, if any, were to be read at a soldier's funeral.[42][43] The three politicians were said to be attempting to impose Christian ceremonies on the military funerals of everybody who has served in the military, regardless of whether or not the deceased was Christian and with or without the consent of the family of the deceased. The three politicians stated their demands were a response to Veterans Affairs (VA) banning Christian prayers at military funerals. VA, however, asserted that this claim was "blatantly false" and that VA respects a family's "rights to pray however they choose at our national cemeteries".[42][43]

Poe was elected to his seventh term in the House in the general election held on November 8, 2016. With 168,692 votes (60.6 percent), he defeated the Democrat Pat Bryan, who received 100,231 ballots (36 percent). Two other candidates held the remaining 3.35 percent of the votes cast.[44]

Personal life[edit]

Poe and his wife, Carol, have four children (Kim, Kara, Kurt, and Kellee).[45]

Poe announced on July 13, 2016 that he had recently been diagnosed with leukemia and would be seeking treatment at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.[46]

In popular culture[edit]

Poe was interviewed about his controversial public humiliation practices while still a Texas district judge by Jon Ronson for Ronson's 2015 book, So You've Been Publicly Shamed.[47]


  1. ^ Leora Tanenbaum (1999). Slut!: growing up female with a bad reputation (1st ed.). New York: Perennial. p. 19. ISBN 0060957409. 
  2. ^ Fenske, Sarah (October 7, 2004). "After Oprah". HoustonPress. Retrieved 2012-07-10. 
  3. ^ "CNN.com Election 2004". CNN. 
  4. ^ "Rep. says illegal immigration slowing on fears of rape, robbery by Guard". The Raw Story. June 27, 2006. Retrieved 2012-07-10. 
  5. ^ a b Spencer Gaffney, Texas delegation in depth: Ted Poe, Houston Chronicle (July 2010).
  6. ^ "Victim's Rights Caucus". Congressional Victim's Rights Caucus. United States House of Representatives. Retrieved January 26, 2009. 
  7. ^ McCaslin, John (January 11, 2008). "Inside the Beltway: Miss Jones". Washington Times. 
  8. ^ "Serbian caucus in U.S. Congress has new chairman". B92. July 17, 2012. Retrieved June 21, 2014. 
  9. ^ "The Taxpayer Protection Pledge Signers 112th Congressional List" (PDF). Americans for Tax Reform. Retrieved November 30, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Ted Poe's Special Interest Group Ratings". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 2012-07-10. 
  11. ^ "Ted Poe's Voting Records". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 2012-07-10. 
  12. ^ a b "Ted Poe's Special Interest Group Ratings". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 2012-07-10. 
  13. ^ "Ted Poe's Voting Records". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 2012-07-10. 
  14. ^ "The Voter's Self Defense System". Vote Smart. Retrieved 2017-03-26. 
  15. ^ "Public Statements". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 2012-07-10. 
  16. ^ a b "Ted Poe's Voting Records". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 2012-07-10. 
  17. ^ "Public Statements". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 2012-07-10. 
  18. ^ http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/26/politics/poe-resigns-freedom-caucus/index.html?adkey=bn
  19. ^ "Inside the GOP’s Health Care Debacle". POLITICO Magazine. Retrieved 2017-03-26. 
  20. ^ "How the House voted to pass the GOP health-care bill". Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-05-04. 
  21. ^ "Health care vote puts pressure on dozens of vulnerable GOP reps". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2017-05-04. 
  22. ^ Border Security/Illegal Immigration, poe.house.gov 
  23. ^ Representative Ted Poe's Voting Records: Immigration, Project Vote Smart, retrieved 2012-10-26 
  24. ^ Kasperowicz, Pete (2012-06-18), "GOP blasts Obama on House floor for 'imperial' immigration decision", The Hill, retrieved 2012-10-26 
  25. ^ Reid Pillifant, Jerry Nadler on the stupidest bill he's ever seen, Politico (November 23, 2011).
  26. ^ Swartsell, Nick (18 November 2013). "John Cornyn to file bill to combat human trafficking". Dallas News. Retrieved 19 May 2014. 
  27. ^ Marcos, Cristina (16 May 2014). "Next week: Lawmakers to debate defense and drones". The Hill. Retrieved 19 May 2014. 
  28. ^ a b Jesse Bynes, Obama signs anti-trafficking bill into law, The Hill (May 29, 2015).
  29. ^ Turley, Jonathan. "Shame On You". Washington Post. Retrieved 8 March 2017. 
  30. ^ Shatzkin, Kate. "Judges Are Resorting to Shame in Sentencing Criminals". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 8 March 2017. 
  31. ^ Murphy, Dean E. "The Nation; Justice as a Morality Play That Ends With Shame". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 March 2017. 
  32. ^ " Inviting TV Into Jury Room in a Capital Case", Adam Liptak, November 26 2002, [[The New York Times ]
  33. ^ "The 13th Juror" (editorial), November 27, 2002, The New York Times
  34. ^ "Texas Court to Rule on Videotaping of Jury", Adam Liptak, January 16, 2003, The New York Times
  35. ^ "Bid to Tape Deliberations By Texas Jury Is Rejected", Adam Liptak, February 13, 2003, The New York Times
  36. ^ Fort Pillow Massacre, 38th Congress, House of Representatives, Report No. 65, May 6, 1964. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
  37. ^ "H.R.1503: Amend the Federal Election Campaign Act to require a birth certificate". THOMAS. Retrieved 2012-07-10. 
  38. ^ "Lou Dobbs Tonight: July 23, 2009 transcript". CNN. July 23, 2009. Retrieved 2012-07-10. 
  39. ^ "How to Apply for Certified Copies of Vital Records". State of Hawaii. Retrieved 2012-07-10. 
  40. ^ "Born in the U.S.A.: The truth about Obama's birth certificate". FactCheck.org. November 1, 2008. Retrieved 2012-07-10. 
  41. ^ "Birth wrongs: Conspiracy theories on Obama beyond silly". Houston Chronicle. July 29, 2009. Retrieved 2012-07-10. 
  42. ^ a b Griffith, Justin (August 5, 2011). "TX Congressmen to force Christian prayer over my dead body.". rockbeyondbelief.com. Retrieved September 6, 2011. 
  43. ^ a b DiBrance, Alex (August 23, 2011). "Texas Legislators and Christian Groups Fight to Insert God Into Vets' Funerals – Against Families' Wishes". AlterNet. Retrieved September 6, 2011. 
  44. ^ "Election Results". Texas Secretary of State. November 8, 2016. Retrieved December 17, 2016. 
  45. ^ "About Ted". 
  46. ^ Livingston, Abby (July 13, 2016). "Diagnosed With Leukemia, U.S. Rep. Ted Poe Ready to Fight". Texas Tribune. Retrieved July 27, 2016. 
  47. ^ Dean, John (20 March 2015). "Is Shame Necessary? How About Public Shaming?". Justia (Verdict Blog). Retrieved 7 April 2015. 

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Jim Turner
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 2nd congressional district

Current U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Gwen Moore
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Dave Reichert