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February 8, 2016

Posts in "Obituaries"

January 1, 2016

Former Rep. Mike Oxley Dies


Oxley was the manager of the Republican Congressional Baseball team for several years. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Oxley was the manager of the Republican Congressional Baseball team for several years. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Michael G. Oxley, who brought competitive intensity and joviality to legislating and athleticism during a quarter-century as a House Republican from Ohio, died Thursday night. He was 71 and had been combating lung cancer since soon after leaving the House in 2006 to become a lobbyist.

Although his career was distinguished by free-market conservatism, Oxley’s name is forever tied to a law that’s the bane of the accounting and business world, which he helped steer to enactment in 2002 after a series of corporate scandals. He was chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and his legislative partner was the chairman of the companion Senate panel, Maryland Democrat Paul S. Sarbanes. Their work, now widely known as Sarbox or Sox, created stiff new federal rules for bookkeepers and new penalties for C-suite malfeasance.

After the collapse of the energy giant Enron, at the time the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history, Oxley won passage of a legislative response panned by critics as too vague to be effective. It was quickly subsumed by a more assertive Senate measure after another pair of accounting scandals, involving Xerox and the telecommunications giant WorldCom, quickened political momentum for government action.

Oxley fought unsuccessfully to limit the scope of the final bill, which at the time was the most sweeping new regulation of publicly traded companies since the Depression, and after leaving office he adopted a damned-with-faint praise approach to his signature accomplishment. “No law is perfect,” he told Fortune magazine in 2012.

Wall Street quickly forgave him, and Oxley became one of the banking industry’s most frequently feted lawmakers. (The wave of fundraisers for him at the 2004 GOP convention in New York was so lavish it drew scrutiny from the state attorney general.) While routinely spending more than $1 million told hold his own rural district, he had plenty left over and was one of his era’s most generous contributors to fellow House Republicans.

During six years as chairman, the maximum permitted by GOP rules, Oxley was central to writing laws creating the terrorism risk insurance program, combatting money laundering as a means of reducing terrorists’ access to cash and reducing federal fees on securities sales.

Before taking over Financial Services, he was chairman of a powerful Energy and Commerce subcommittee, where he played a significant role in writing the 1999 law removing the barriers that had separated banks, insurance companies and securities firms since the New Deal. He also helped shepherd one of the two laws  enacted over President Bill Clinton’s veto, insulating companies from securities fraud lawsuits when they distribute erroneous but good-faith profit projections.

Before switching committees, Oxley won a bruising power struggle inside the GOP conference that ended with him bringing much of his old jurisdiction with him. (His strong competitive streak, and a drive to do things his way, also routinely left Democrats complaining of being ignored in crafting legislation.)

At the same time, Oxley had a reputation as a wisecracker and backslapper with a quick laugh and megawatt smile. He was also an unabashed defender of the “old school” perquisites that came with a seat in Congress, especially travel on the dime of others. He roamed as widely as any member to vacation destinations, raising money on the ski slopes in Colorado and speaking at conferences at golf resorts from Florida to southern California.

He was one of the most overt jocks on the Hill, a reputation that followed him from his days sporting a flat-top in high school. He could be found early weekday mornings playing tennis with a lobbyist or basketball in the members’ gym. His golf handicap was among the lowest in Congress.

But baseball was the sport for which he was best known in Washington. He manned every position but pitcher and catcher during 16 years on the field for the GOP in what’s now called the CQ Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game — a playing career that ended after he broke his wrist in the 1994 game in a collision at first base with another Ohio congressman, Democrat Sherrod Brown, who’s now a senator. He had to have steel pins inserted in his arm. But he was back the next year as manager, and during the next eight years the Republicans won seven times.

Michael Garver Oxley was born on Feb. 11, 1944, in Findlay, Ohio, which remained his official hometown throughout his public career. His dad, the county prosecutor, ingrained the virtues of Barry Goldwater and free-market economist Milton Friedman in his son from an early age. After earning degrees from Miami University of Ohio and Ohio State law school, Oxley spent three years in the FBI. He received a commendation for his role in the arrest of two Black Panthers accused of bank robbery.

While he was an agent he met and married Patricia Pluguez, then a flight attendant. She survives him, as does their son, Chadd, who’s also a lobbyist.

In 1972, at age 28, he won a seat in the state House. His opening to run for Congress came in April 1981, when Republican Rep. Tennyson Guyer died. Oxley ended up winning the seat by 341 votes. He announced his retirement soon after winning his 12th term, the only other time he ever finished with less than three-fifths of the vote.

He spun through the revolving door as soon as possible after the election his successor, fellow Republican Jim Jordan, becoming a senior official with NASDAQ and a top rainmaker for the lobbying and law firm Baker Hostetler.


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By David Hawkings Posted at 12:44 p.m.

November 4, 2015

Howard Coble Dead at 84

Coble in June 2014. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Coble in June 2014. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Update 9:22 a.m. | Republican former Rep. Howard Coble of North Carolina died late Tuesday after an extended hospitalization. He was 84. Full story

By Bridget Bowman Posted at 8:08 a.m.

April 1, 2015

Col. John G. Keliher, Arms-Control Pioneer, Dead at 82

Colonel John Graham Keliher, during his time working for Congressman Dave McCurdy, D – Okla. in the 1980s.

Col. John Graham Keliher during istoriis time working for Rep. Dave McCurdy, D-Okla., in the 1980s.

Col. John Graham Keliher, an Army veteran, former Hill staffer and Department of Energy employee, died on March 7. He was 82.

With his drive, experience and education, Keliher was for years an invaluable resource in Washington efforts to limit nuclear proliferation, secure arms-control agreements and define national security policies. Full story

March 23, 2015

Former Rep. Robert Kastenmeier Dies at Age 91

Former Rep. Robert Kastenmeier, a Wisconsin Democrat who represented the Badger State’s 2nd District for 32 years, died March 20 in Arlington, Va. He was 91.

Kastenmeier, a World War II Army veteran, served as a War Department claims service officer in the Philippines after the war and as a justice of the peace in Wisconsin before being elected to the House in 1958.  He served in the House from 1959-1991, tumultuous years that ranged from the end of legalized segregation to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon and the Vietnam War, for which he was an early and vocal opponent. Full story

February 18, 2015

Former Rep. Cass Ballenger Dies at 88

Ballenger, seen here in a 2002 photo from our archives, left Congress a decade ago. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Ballenger, seen here in a 2002 photo from the Roll Call archives, left Congress a decade ago. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated Feb. 20 | Former North Carolina Rep. Cass Ballenger, a pro-business conservative and Republican ally of Hugo Chavez known for his off-the-cuff comments, died Wednesday after a prolonged illness. He was 88.

A former plastics executive, Ballenger spent 38 consecutive years in elected office, and served as the standard-bearer for the GOP on labor issues during his nine terms in Congress.

Full story

February 6, 2015

Rep. Alan Nunnelee Dies at Age 56

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated, 8:30 p.m. | Rep. Alan Nunnelee, R-Miss., the stalwart social conservative who spearheaded efforts to ban same-sex marriage in the Magnolia State, died Friday from complications from brain cancer, his spokeswoman confirmed to CQ Roll Call. He was 56.

“Congressman Alan Nunnelee has gone home to be with Jesus. He was well loved and will be greatly missed,” read a statement from his family.

In May, doctors found a tumor in the right side of Nunnelee’s brain after he was complaining of fatigue. He underwent brain surgery in June to remove the mass, and suffered a stroke during the procedure, which left him with impaired speech and numbness in his left side. On Jan. 26, doctors moved Nunnelee into hospice care at his home in Tupelo, Miss., after they found another tumor had formed and no further treatment was possible. Full story

July 29, 2014

Former Rep. M. Caldwell Butler Dies at 89 (Video)

Former Rep. M. Caldwell Butler, a Virginian congressman who came to office in the midst of President Richard M. Nixon’s impeachment, died early Tuesday. He was 89.

U.S. House of Representatives

U.S. House of Representatives

The Republican served Virginia’s 6th district from 1972 to 1983 and was a member of the Judiciary Committee. It was on that panel, that he voted, as a freshman, to impeach Nixon following the Watergate scandal. Out of the committee’s 17 Republicans, Butler was one of the six to join committee Democrats in recommending impeachment.

Butler’s wife, June, died last month.

The Judiciary Committee recognized the loss of the Roanoke congressman Tuesday, with Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., announcing Butler’s passing.

Goodlatte, the current representative for Virginia’s sixth district, remembered Butler as “a public servant in the truest sense of the word.”

“He was a friend of everyone who knew him and someone who I had great respect,” Goodlatte said. “He will be badly missed.”

At Tuesday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing, ranking member John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., recalled serving alongside Butler on Judiciary, regularly exchanging views.

“Our friendship was never impaired by the different perspectives that we had on how government should run,” Conyers said.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., also remembered Butler, calling him “a man of tremendous principle.”

Butler graduated with a law degree from the University of Virginia in 1950 and practiced law in Roanoke. He served in Virginia’s House of Delegates from 1962 to 1971.

June 19, 2014

‘Ms. Ethics’ Carol Dixon Remembered Fondly (Video)

Carol E. Dixon, director of advice and education for the House Committee on Ethics, died Monday from unknown causes. She was 44.

Dixon had worked at the committee for 11 years. Family and colleagues described her as an excellent baker, devoted aunt, passionate Michigan football fan and sharp legal mind. The leftovers from her famous Christmas parties were the highlight of every holiday season.

Dixon found joy in helping members navigate complicated ethical questions. “She wanted everyone to be their best self. … She really wanted to make a difference. That was important to her,” her cousin and close friend Mary Raihman told CQ Roll Call.

“I think [Dixon] chose ethics because she wanted to be a part of making the institution great and helping particularly young staffers and new members understand the complex rules that they then had to follow,” said Kelle Strickland, chief of staff to Rep. Michael C. Burgess, R-Texas. Strickland added that her close colleague was “very generous and trustworthy. She worked on the ethics committee and knew how to keep a secret.”

Stephen Dixon told CQ Roll Call his daughter “really cared about what she did. She cared about ethics and she was proud of what she did. .. [She was] really devoted to making the Congress a better place.”

Staffers inside and outside the committee say Dixon’s discretion and meticulous attention to detail made her an invaluable counselor and confidant.

Full story

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