Pete_Stark by zzzmarcus


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Pete Stark

Pete Stark
Pete Stark Website Military service Allegiance Service/ branch Years of service United States of America Air Force 1955-1957

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from California’s 13th district Incumbent Assumed office January 3, 1973 Preceded by Born Norman Mineta November 11, 1931 (1931-11-11) Milwaukee, Wisconsin Fortney Hillman Stark, Jr. American Democratic Deborah Roderick Fremont, California MIT University of California, Berkeley Banking executive, politician Ways & Means Committee Unitarian Universalism, Atheism

Fortney Hillman "Pete" Stark, Jr. (born November 11, 1931) is an American politician from the state of California. A Democrat, he has been a member of the U.S. House of Representatives since 1973, representing California’s 13th congressional district in southwestern Alameda County. Currently he is the sixth most senior Representative as well as 9th most senior member of Congress. The 13th district includes Alameda, Union City, Hayward, Newark, San Leandro and Fremont, as well as parts of Oakland and Pleasanton. Stark lives in Maryland, although he maintains a townhouse in Fremont, CA.[1] Stark is the first, and so far only, openly nontheist member of the United States Congress,[2]

Early life and education
Stark was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in general engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1953.[3] He served in the United States Air Force from 1955 to 1957. After leaving the Air Force, Stark attended the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, and received his MBA in 1960. Stark enjoyed living in the Bay Area so much that he decided to settle there after graduating. In 1963, Stark founded Security National Bank, a small bank in Walnut Creek. Within 10 years it grew to a $100 million company with branches across the East Bay. Stark grew up as a Republican, but his opposition to the Vietnam War led him to switch parties in the mid-1960s. He printed checks

Birth name Nationality Political party Spouse Residence Alma mater

Occupation Committees Religion


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with peace signs on them and placed a giant peace sign on the roof of his bank’s headquarters.

Pete Stark
sponsored national health insurance (Stark had introduced legislation for national health insurance). Stark said that Sullivan had been influenced by George H. W. Bush administration officials such as Office of Management and Budget Director Richard Darman and White House Chief of Staff John H. Sununu to change his positions on both abortion and health care. Sullivan replied in a statement, saying in part, "I guess I should feel ashamed because Congressman Stark thinks I am not a ’good Negro.’ As a Cabinet member who has spent almost four decades of my life dedicated to healing,…[I] am unable to express my own views without being subject to racebased criticism by those who are not ready to accept independent thinking by a black man." Stark later apologized for the controversy.[6][7] In May 2004, Stark responded to a constituent Army National Guard member’s letter critical of Stark’s recent vote on the war in Iraq by immediately calling the service member’s telephone and leaving a feisty response on voicemail which was later broadcast on San Francisco’s talk radio station KSFO.[8] Stark’s harsh voicemail was transcribed as follows: Dan, this is Congressman Pete Stark, and I just got your fax. And you don’t know what you’re talking about. So if you care about enlisted people, you wouldn’t have voted for that thing either. But probably somebody put you up to this, and I’m not sure who it was, but I doubt if you could spell half the words in the letter, and somebody wrote it for you. So I don’t pay much attention to it. But I’ll call you back later and let you tell me more about why you think you’re such a great goddamn hero and why you think that this generals [sic] and the Defense Department, who forced these poor enlisted guys to do what they did, shouldn’t be held to account. That’s the issue. So if you want to stick it to a bunch of enlisted guys, have your way. But if you want to get to the bottom of people who forced this awful program in Iraq, then you should understand more about it than you obviously do. Thanks.[9][10]

Congressional career
In 1972, Stark moved to Oakland to run in the Democratic primary against 14-term incumbent U.S. Representative George Paul Miller in what was then the 8th district. He won the nomination by a shocking 34-point margin. In the 1972 general election he won by a narrow 5-point margin. Since that election he has not faced a contest nearly that close and has been reelected 16 times. He has only dropped below 60 percent of the vote once (in 1980). Due to redistricting, his district has changed numbers twice, from the 8th (1973–75) to the 9th (1975–93) to the 13th (since 1993). Today Stark is the longest-serving member of Congress from California. Ironically, Stark ran against George P. Miller, "For Miller being in Washington - too long, elected in 1944." He has been a ranking member of the Banking and Currency Committee and powerful Ways and Means Committee. He also served as chairman of the Committee on the District of Columbia in the 103rd Congress. His voting record is generally very liberal, as indicated in the ratings section below, and he has been voted the most liberal member of Congress for two consecutive years. He was a founding member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. He was unopposed for the Democratic nomination in the 2008 election[4] and was re-elected in the general election with 76.3% of the vote.[5]

Committee assignments
• • Subcommittee on Health (Chairman) • Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support

Controversial statements
Stark has been known to make controversial statements through his political career. In August 1990, Stark drew controversy for calling Health and Human Services Secretary Louis Wade Sullivan, an African American, "a disgrace to his race" for supporting Bush Administration policies that Mr. Stark called "bankrupt and damaging to minority members". Stark was criticizing a speech by Sullivan who opposes proposals for federally-


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On October 18, 2007, Stark made the following comments on the House floor during a debate with Congressman Joe Barton of Texas: "Republicans sure don’t care about finding $200 billion to fight the illegal war in Iraq. Where are you going to get that money? Are you going to tell us lies like you’re telling us today? Is that how you’re going to fund the war? You don’t have money to fund the war or children. But you’re going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the President’s amusement."[11][12] Following the initial criticism to his statements, when asked by a radio station if he would take back any of his statements, Stark responded "Absolutely not. I may have dishonored the Commander-in-Chief, but I think he’s done pretty well to dishonor himself without any help from me."[13] The same day, his office also issued a press release, saying in part, "I have nothing but respect for our brave men and women in uniform and wish them the very best. But I respect neither the Commander-in-Chief who keeps them in harms way nor the chickenhawks in Congress who vote to deny children health care."[14] Five days later on October 23, after the House voted down a censure resolution against Stark sponsored by Minority Leader John Boehner, he said, "I apologize for this reason: I think we have serious issues before us, the issue of providing medical care to children, the issue about what we’re going to do about a war that we’re divided about how to end."[15] Other controversies include singling out "Jewish colleagues" for blame for the Persian Gulf War and referring to Congressman Stephen Solarz of New York (who cosponsored the Gulf War Authorization Act) as "Field Marshal Solarz in the pro-Israel forces." in 1991.[16] In 1995, during a private meeting with Congresswoman Nancy Johnson of Connecticut, he called Johnson a "whore for the insurance industry" and suggested that her knowledge of health care came solely from "pillow talk" with her husband, a physician. His press secretary, Caleb Marshall, defended him in saying, "He didn’t call her a ’whore,’ he called her a ’whore of the insurance industry.’"[16] In 1999, he said to former California State Welfare Director Eloise Anderson, herself a former welfare mother, that she would "kill children if she

Pete Stark
had her way" for her advocacy of welfare reform.[7] In a 2001 Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health hearing on abstinence promotion, he referred to Congressman J. C. Watts of Oklahoma, an African American, as "the current Republican Conference Chairman, whose children were all born out of wedlock."[16] In 2003, when Stark was told to "shut up" by Congressman Scott McInnis of Colorado during a Ways and Means Committee meeting due to Stark’s belittling of the chairman, Bill Thomas of California, he replied, "You think you are big enough to make me, you little wimp? Come on. Come over here and make me, I dare you. You little fruitcake."[16] The San Francisco Chronicle editorialized on Stark, "Only a politician who assumes he has a job for life could behave so badly on a semi-regular basis by spewing personalized invective that might get him punched in certain East Bay taverns. Would-be challengers sometimes sense a whiff of opportunity, but the reality of taking on a 16-term Democrat in solidly liberal terrain is nothing short of daunting. Surely there must be someone along the shoreline between Alameda and Fremont who could represent the good citizens of the district with class and dignity. It’s not the case now."[17]

Maryland real estate taxes controversy
For two years, Stark was allegedly claiming his lakefront Maryland home as his primary residence in order to claim a homestead exemption to reduce his local real estate taxes. [18] Under Maryland law, in order to qualify, the owner must register to vote and drive in Maryland—Stark uses a California address for those purposes.[19]

Political views
Stark voted against the bipartisan May 2008 farm subsidy bill, which was supported by most House Democrats and over half of House Republicans, in part because of its cost.[20] He also voted against both readings of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, which gave $700 billion dollars to troubled investment banks. Stark argued that "the proposed bailout will only help reckless


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speculators who have been caught on the wrong side of the come line." Criticizing the bill as corporate welfare, he said "The bill before us today is basically the same three-page Wall Street give-away first put forth by President Bush" before the vote on the first bailout.[21][22]

Pete Stark
continues to destroy civil rights, women’s rights and religious freedom in a rush to phony patriotism and to courting the messianic Pharisees of the religious right." In January 2003 Stark supported a reinstatement of the draft, partly in protest against the call to war but also saying, "If we’re going to have these escapades, we should not do it on the backs of poor people and minorities."[26] In October 2004, Stark was one of only two members of Congress to vote in favor of the Universal National Service Act of 2003 (HR 163), a bill proposing resumption of the military draft. Stark voted against authorizing the Iraq war and has opposed every funding bill for the war while the Republicans controlled Congress. However, he chose not to stand against the Democratic legislation to continue funding the war on March 23, 2007, despite other liberal Democrats voting against the bill. In a statement posted on his website he stated, "Despite my utmost respect for my colleagues who crafted this bill, I can’t in good conscience vote to continue this war. Nor, however, can I vote ’No’ and join those who think today’s legislation goes too far toward withdrawal. That’s why I’m making the difficult decision to vote ’present’."[27] Stark was the only member of Congress to take this position.

Health care
Stark is known to have a longstanding interest in health care issues and has been critical of the fate of the uninsured under the George W. Bush administration.[23] Along with John Conyers, in April 2006 Stark brought an action against President Bush and others alleging violations of the Constitution in the passing of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, which cut Medicaid payments.[24] The case, Conyers v. Bush, was ultimately dismissed for lack of standing in November of the same year.[25]

Iraq War

2008 financial crisis
On September 25, 2008, Stark and Oregon Democrat Rep. Peter DeFazio signed a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi proposing a one quarter of one percent “transaction tax” on all trades in financial instruments including stocks, options, and futures. On September 29, 2008, Stark voted against HR 3997, the bailout bill backed by President Bush, House Speaker Pelosi and Presidential Candidates Barack Obama and John McCain, and the bill subsequently failed to pass. Explaining his vote, Stark stated: "President Bush tells us that we face unparalleled financial doom if this $700 billion bailout is not approved today. He and his Treasury Secretary – a former Wall Street fat cat – tell us that we have reached the point of ’crisis.’ That is a familiar line from this President. It sounds like the disastrous rush to war in Iraq and the subsequent stampede to enact the Patriot Act. As I opposed the Iraq War and the Patriot Act, I stand in opposition to his latest rush to judgment."[28]

Pete Stark speaks at a Town Hall meeting in January 2007 in San Leandro, CA. Pete Stark was an early opponent of the Iraq War, speaking on the House floor against the resolution authorizing military force against Iraq, on October 10, 2002. In part he said, "Well then, who will pay? School kids will pay. There’ll be no money to keep them from being left behind — way behind. Seniors will pay. They’ll pay big time as the Republicans privatize Social Security and rob the Trust Fund to pay for the capricious war. Medicare will be curtailed and drugs will be more unaffordable. And there won’t be any money for a drug benefit because Bush will spend it all on the war. Working folks will pay through loss of job security and bargaining rights. Our grandchildren will pay through the degradation of our air and water quality. And the entire nation will pay as Bush


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On October 3, 2008, Stark voted against HR 1424, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. With this vote, Stark became the sole member of the House of Representatives from the San Francisco Bay Area to oppose the bill. [29] Explaining his vote, Stark stated: "You’re getting the same kind of misinformation now, the same kind of rush to judgment to tell you that a crisis will occur. It won’t. Vote ’no.’ Come back and help work on a bill that will help all Americans." [29]

Pete Stark

"[I am a] Unitarian who does not believe in a Supreme Being. I look forward to working with the Secular Coalition to stop the promotion of narrow religious beliefs in science, marriage contracts, the military and the provision of social service." —Statement from Stark, January 2007[30] Stark is the first openly atheist member of Congress, as announced by the Secular Coalition for America.[31] Stark acknowledged his atheism in response to an SCA questionnaire sent to public officials in January 2007. On September 20, 2007, Stark reaffirmed his atheism by making a public announcement in front of the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard, the Harvard Law School Heathen Society, and various other atheist, agnostic, secular, humanist, and nonreligious groups.[32] Honoring his courage, the American Humanist Association named him their 2008 Humanist of the Year.[33]

[1] [1] [2] California lawmaker becomes highest ranking... [3] MIT ’Loses’ One Seat in US Congress November 14, 1990 [4] "County finalizes primary ballots",, March 11, 2008. [5] "U.S. Congress - District 13 Districtwide Results", California Secretary of State website (accessed November 17, 2008). [6] Lawmaker Says His Racial Insult of Health Secretary Was Mistake 4 August 1990. Associated Press. [7] ^ Pete Stark [8] Stark Raving Mad May 10, 2004.

[9] Stark Raving Mad May 10, 2004. Wall Street Journal. [10] Fox News Report on YouTube May 10, 2004. [11] YouTube video, October 18, 2007. [12] The John Ziegler Show, KFI, October 18, 2007 (7PM hour) and October 19, 2007 (7PM hour) (podcast retrieved October 22, 2007) [13] KCBS, "Stark Stands Behind GOP Accusations", October 18, 2007. [14] Stark Calls On Boehner, Republicans To Retract Opposition To Children’s Health Care, Apologize Press Release, Office of Congressman Pete Stark [15] Stark apologizes, calls on Congress to provide health care to children and end the war in Iraq, October 23, 2007. [16] ^ Weisman, Jonathan (24 October 2007). "Stark’s Latest Gaffe Is Just One In a Long Line". Washington Post. pp. A17. content/article/2007/10/23/ AR2007102302165.html. Retrieved on 2009-04-15. [17] Pete Stark’s tiring tirades, San Francisco Chronicle, July 23, 2003 (retrieved April 15, 2009) [18] article/ ALeqM5i7yRQ9hNSd8b3CPNONg6pgqfJxKAD971VT [19] maryland_is_home_sweet_home_for_congressmen_se [20] [2] [21] [22] index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=396 [23] Benjamin, Matthew; Kerry Young (August 30, 2006). "46 Million Live in U.S. Without Health Insurance". New York Sun: p. 2. article/38815?page_no=2. Retrieved on 2007-10-01. [24] "11 House Members to Sue Over Budget Bill". USA Today (Associated Press). 28 April 2006. news/washington/2006-04-28-budgetlawsuit_x.htm. Retrieved on 2007-10-01. [25] "Judge Dismisses Budget Bill Lawsuit". ABC News (Associated Press). 6 November 2006. US/wireStory?id=2633701. Retrieved on 2007-10-01. [26] Epstein, Edward (23 January 2003). "Stark Joins Call to Restore Draft".


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Pete Stark

Common Dreams NewsCenter. • Biography, voting record, and interest group ratings at Project Vote Smart headlines03/0123-04.htm. Retrieved on • Issue positions and quotes at On The 2007-10-01. Issues [27] ""Congressional Record: U.S. Troop • Interview with Jan Henfeld Readiness, Veterans’ Health, and Iraq • "The bottom line is I don’t trust this Accountability Act, 2007"". president and his advisors",, 23 March 2007. October 10, 2002, Stark’s speech against congress/ the resolution authorizing military force record.xpd?id=110-h20070323-19#sMonofilemx003Ammx002Fmmx002Fmmx002Fmhomemx002Fmg against Iraq, delivered on the floor of the Retrieved on 2007-09-30. House [28] • "California Congressman Pete Stark pressreleases/2008-09/29-bailout.htm Reflects on Life Under a Republican in the [29] ^ House", BuzzFlash, August 5, 2005 story?section=news/ • "The War on Our Children", Rep. Pete politics&id=6431352 Stark (D-Calif.), In These Times, [30] "Stark’s atheist views break political November 25, 2005 taboo". San Francisco Chronicle. March • Medicare for All Rep. Pete Stark, The 14, 2007. Nation, February 6, 2006 article.cgi?file=/c/a/2007/03/14/ • "First ’Nontheistic’ Member of Congress MNG7BOKV111.DTL. Retrieved on Announced", Daniel Burke, Beliefnet, 2007-12-21. March 14, 2007 [31] "Congressman Holds No God-Belief". Secular Coalition for America. March 12, 2007. pete_stark_070312.html. Retrieved on 2007-10-01. [32] Phillips, Amanda (27 September 2007). "U.S. Rep. Pete Stark "Comes Out" as an Atheist". Common Dreams NewsCenter. storage/paper609/news/2007/09/27/ News/U.sRep.Pete.Stark.comes.Out.As.An.Atheist-3000553.shtml?reffeature=mostemailedtab. Retrieved on 2007-10-01. [33] "Representative Pete Stark Named 2008 Humanist of the Year". American Humanist Association. June 6, 2008. conference08press.php.

External links
• Congressman Pete Stark official U.S. House website • Pete Stark for Congress official campaign website • Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress • Voting record maintained by The Washington Post • Campaign finance reports and data at the Federal Election Commission • Campaign contributions at


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United States House of Representatives Preceded by George P. Miller Preceded by Don Edwards Preceded by Norman Mineta Political offices Preceded by Ron Dellums California Chairman of the House District of Columbia Committee 1993–1995

Pete Stark

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives Succeeded by Ron Dellums from California’s 8th congressional district 1973–1975 Member of the U.S. House of Representatives Succeeded by Ron Dellums from California’s 9th congressional district 1975–1993 Member of the U.S. House of Representatives Incumbent from California’s 13th congressional district 1993 – present Succeeded by Duties transferred to Government Reform and Oversight Committee Succeeded by Don Young

Order of precedence in the United States of America Preceded by Bill Young United States Representatives by seniority 6th

Retrieved from "" Categories: Nontheists, American bankers, American Unitarian Universalists, Atheist and agnostic politicians, California Democrats, Massachusetts Institute of Technology alumni, Members of the United States House of Representatives from California, Delegates to the 2008 Democratic National Convention, People from Fremont, California, Social Progressives, United States Air Force officers, University of California, Berkeley alumni, 1931 births, Living people This page was last modified on 14 May 2009, at 15:43 (UTC). All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License. (See Copyrights for details.) Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a U.S. registered 501(c)(3) taxdeductible nonprofit charity. Privacy policy About Wikipedia Disclaimers


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