Wes Cooley

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Wes Cooley
Wes Cooley.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Oregon's 2nd district
In office
January 3, 1995 – January 3, 1997
Preceded byRobert F. Smith
Succeeded byRobert F. Smith
Member of the Oregon Senate
from the 28th district
In office
January 1993 – January 1995
Preceded byWayne H. Fawbush
Succeeded byGreg Walden
Personal details
Wester Shadric Cooley

(1932-03-28)March 28, 1932
Los Angeles, California
DiedFebruary 4, 2015(2015-02-04) (aged 82)
Bend, Oregon
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Rosemary Herron Cooley

Wester Shadric "Wes" Cooley (March 28, 1932 – February 4, 2015) was a Republican politician and rancher from Oregon. He was a U.S. Representative from Oregon's 2nd congressional district for the 1995–1997 term.

Early life[edit]

Cooley was born in Los Angeles, California. He served in the United States Army from 1952 to 1954, and is described in the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress as a rancher. He owned the vitamin supplements company Rose Laboratories. Cooley graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1958.

Political career[edit]

Cooley was elected to the Oregon State Senate in 1992. In 1994, midway through his State Senate term, Cooley was elected to the United States House of Representatives as a Republican from the 2nd District.

In the 104th Congress, Cooley was an advocate of private property rights, American military superiority, tort reform to limit recovery by plaintiffs, and other planks of the Republican Party's proclaimed Contract with America.[citation needed]

In April 1996, the Medford, Oregon Mail Tribune questioned Cooley's statement in the 1994 Voter's Guide that he had served in the Army Special Forces in Korea.[1] Charges also arose that Cooley and his wife kept their marriage secret for several years in order for her to continue to receive veteran's benefits from her prior marriage.[1] Cooley was unopposed for renomination in the May primary and vigorously denied the charges; however, he came under increasing pressure from fellow Republicans, including his campaign manager Greg Walden and House speaker Newt Gingrich, to step down.[2] Walden even went as far as to announce an independent run for the seat, but implied that he would serve as a Republican if elected.[2]

In August 1996, Cooley withdrew from the race.[3] A special nominating convention chose former six-term incumbent Republican Bob Smith, who had retired two years earlier, to replace Cooley on the ballot.[1] Smith went on to defeat Democrat Mike Dugan in the November election.[4]

In December, Cooley was indicted for lying about his military service in the 1994 voter's pamphlet.[5] While claiming that the documents proving his claim were destroyed in a fire, Cooley later accepted a plea agreement in which he was convicted of lying in an official document and sentenced to probation, community service, and ordered to pay a fine.[6]

Tax evasion conviction[edit]

On January 29, 2009, Cooley was indicted in California for his role in an alleged investment scheme associated with the sale of shares of Bidbay.com.[7] The Oregonian reports that prosecutors allege more than $10 million was defrauded from investors in the Bidbay sale of shares based on false statements. Cooley was charged with six counts of money laundering and one count of filing a false tax return in 2002 in an attempt to conceal more than $1.1 million in illicit income.[8]

In December 2012, Cooley was sentenced to a year and a day in prison after pleading guilty to hiding $494,000 in income from the Internal Revenue Service. He was further ordered to pay back taxes of $138,470 and restitution of $3.5 million to the victims of the Bidbay investment fraud scheme.[9]


Cooley died on February 4, 2015 in Bend, Oregon.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Oregon G.O.P. Picks Replacement for Incumbent". New York Times. August 25, 1996. Retrieved June 1, 2010.
  2. ^ a b Toner, Robin (July 18, 1996). "Political briefing: the states and the issues". New York Times. Retrieved June 1, 2010.
  3. ^ "Cooley relents, pulls out of race". The Register-Guard. August 7, 1996. Retrieved June 1, 2010.
  4. ^ "The 1996 elections: The states: West". New York Times. November 7, 1996. Retrieved June 1, 2010.
  5. ^ "Congressman Indicted on Charge of Lying About Service in Korea". New York Times. December 12, 1996. Retrieved June 1, 2010.
  6. ^ "Former Congressman Is Convicted of Lying". New York Times. March 18, 1997. Retrieved June 1, 2010.
  7. ^ Pettersson, Edvard (2009-01-29). "Former U.S. Congressman Cooley Charged With Bilking Investors". Bloomberg.com. Retrieved 2009-01-29.
  8. ^ Walsh, Edward (2009-01-29). "Wes Cooley indicted on federal fraud charges". Oregonian. Retrieved 2009-01-29.
  9. ^ Pettersson, Edvard (11 December 2012). "Ex-Congressman Cooley Gets 1-Year Term for Hiding Income". Bloomberg. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
  10. ^ sources, From KTVZ.COM news (2015-02-05). "Wes Cooley, C.O. congressman ensnared in scandal, dies at 82". KTVZ. Retrieved 2018-11-06.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Robert F. Smith
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Oregon's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Robert F. Smith