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Bart Stupak

Bartholomew Thomas "Bart" Stupak (; born February 29, 1952) is a lobbyist and American politician of the Democratic Party. He served as the U.S. Representative from from 1993 to 2011.

Stupak chose not to seek re-election in 2010. He departed Congress in January 2011, and was succeeded by Dr. Dan Benishek, a surgeon from the Upper Peninsula. He is now a lobbyist with Venable LLP.[1]


Early life, education and career

Stupak was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and graduated from Gladstone High School in Gladstone, Michigan in 1970. He is an Eagle Scout.[2] He earned his Associate's degree from Northwestern Michigan College, a community college in Traverse City in 1972. He earned his Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice from Saginaw Valley State University in 1977, graduating magna cum laude, and he earned a law degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan in 1981. He worked as an Escanaba police officer in 1972. Stupak later served as a Michigan State Police Trooper from 1973 to 1984. He also practiced law.

Michigan legislature

In 1988, Stupak was elected a Michigan State Representative, representing Menominee, Delta, and Dickinson counties, defeating two-term Republican Jim Connors. In 1990, Stupak ran for state senator but lost a hotly contested primary to eventual general election winner Don Koivisto.

U.S. House of Representatives

Committee assignments

  • Committee on Energy and Commerce
    • Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection
    • Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet
    • Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation (Chairman)

Caucus memberships

  • Founder and Co-chair of the Law Enforcement Caucus
  • Co-chair of the Congressional Northern Border Caucus
  • Member, Congressional Motorcycle Safety Caucus

During his service in Congress, Stupak sponsored 36 bills, but none became law. He cosponsored 157 bills, 5 of which were enacted into law. He voted with the members of his party 96% of the time, andabstained from 5% of the votes. Because of the 1st District's extensive amount of Great Lakes shoreline (over 1,600 miles), Stupak was very active on issues related to the protection of the Great Lakes, including opposing sale or diversion of Great Lakes water and drilling for oil and gas under the lakes.[3]

Political positions

Financial system

In 2009, Stupak voted against the Dodd-Franks bill to expand Federal regulation and oversight of the US financial system, which was introduced after the US financial and banking crisis of that year.[4]

Civil liberties

Stupak voted for the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, which expanded the definition of hate crimes to include sexual orientation and gender identity.[5]

Health care

Stupak expressed a desire to support the 2009 health care reform bill put forth by President Obama;[6] however, Stupak feared that under the insurance system to be established, federal funds would indirectly pay for abortion services.[7] Therefore, Stupak and Republican Congressman Joseph R. Pitts submitted an amendment known as the Stupak-Pitts Amendment to prohibit such payments. The Stupak-Pitts Amendment was adopted by the House of Representatives,[8] but a similar provision was not included in the Senate version of the health reform legislation (known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act).[9] Stupak announced that he and several other Democratic representatives who supported health reform legislation, but opposed abortion, would not vote for the final version of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act if the Stupak-Pitts Amendment was not included in it.[10][11] The ensuing controversy made Stupak "perhaps the single most important rank-and-file House member in passing the bill."[1]

Stupak's position on the issue of abortion funding was strongly opposed by abortion advocates who held a "Stop Stupak" rally on Capitol Hill in December 2009.[12] In the ensuing months, Stupak publicly stated that the pressure and opposition he received in regard to his abortion stance on the health reform legislation had caused him to unplug the phone at his house due to "obscene phone calls and threats" and had made his life a "living hell."[6][13][14] "My staff is overwhelmed and we're accosted basically wherever we go by people who disagree," Stupak added.[13]

In March 2010, President Obama and Stupak reached an understanding whereby the President promised to sign an Executive Order that purported to bar federal funding of abortion through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,[15] and Stupak and several of his allies promised to withdraw their opposition to the bill.[16] Stupak's reversal was criticized by anti-abortion groups who argued that the Executive Order would not be effective.[17][18] Pro-life organizations accused Stupak of having betrayed the pro-life movement,[19][20][21][22][23][24] and the Susan B. Anthony List revoked a pro-life award it had planned to give to him[19] and ran $150,000.00 worth of radio advertisements against him.[25] Following Stupak's April 2010 announcement of his retirement,[26] conservative groups pointed to the political consequences of his alleged abandonment of his pro-life position as a possible reason for his decision.[25][27] However, Stupak himself attributed the exertion of constant travel back and forth from Washington, D.C. as a primary reason for his decision to retire.[28]


Apartment controversy

Stupak rented a room at "C Street", a Washington, D.C. facility of The Fellowship (also known as The Family), a Christian fraternal organization.[29][30] The Fellowship has been the subject of controversy over its claimed tax status as a church, the ownership of the property and its connection to the Fellowship, and the reportedly subsidized benefits the facility provides to members of Congress.[31]

Jeff Sharlet, author of a book about The Fellowship, said, "When I lived with The Family at Ivanwald, a house for younger men being groomed for leadership, I was told that Stupak was a regular visitor to the Cedars." The Cedars, according to the Washington Independent, is also owned by The Family and hosts weekly prayer events.[32] Stupak has denied any affiliation with the Family and appeared to deny knowledge of the organization, stating "I don t belong to any such group" and that "I don t know what you re talking about, [The] Family and all this other stuff."[33]

Political campaigns

In 1992, incumbent Republican Representative Robert William Davis retired. He had represented the Michigan 11th Congressional district, covering the Upper Peninsula, which due to reapportionment was now the 1st district. Stupak won the heavily contested Democratic primary, and defeated former Republican Representative Philip Ruppe in the general election.

Stupak defeated Republican Don Hooper of Iron River in the 2002, 2004 and 2006 elections, and Republican Tom Casperson In 2008.[34]

On April 9, 2010, Stupak announced that he would not run for re-election, and that he would retire from Congress at the end of his then-current term.[35][36]

Campaign funding

Electric utilities and health care professionals were among the top four industries contributing to his campaigns in 2006, 2008 and 2010.[37] Of his top 20 largest contributors throughout his political career, 16 were unions and associations, two were energy companies, one was an insurance company and one was a telecommunications firm.[38]

Electoral history

  • 1992 Democratic primary for Congress
    • Bart Stupak, 48.63%
    • Mike McElroy, 43.11%
    • Daniel Herringa, 8.27%
  • 1992 general election
    • Bart Stupak (D), 53.93%
    • Philip Ruppe (R), 43.58%
    • Gerald Aydlott (L), 1.52%
    • Lyman Clark (NL), 0.96%
  • 1994 general election
    • Bart Stupak (D), 56.86%
    • Gil Ziegler (R), 41.99%
    • Michael McPeak (NL), 1.12%
  • 1996 general election
    • Bart Stupak (D), 70.68%
    • Bob Carr (R), 27.24%
    • Michael C. Oleniczak (L), 1.10%
    • Wendy Conway (NL), 0.96%
  • 1998 general election
    • Bart Stupak (D), 58.67%
    • Michelle McManus (R), 39.51%
    • John W. Loosemore (L), 1.04%
    • Wendy Conway (NL), 0.78%
  • 2000 general election
    • Bart Stupak (D), 58.39%
    • Chuck Yob (R), 40.37%
    • Wendy Conway (NL), 0.63%
    • John W. Loosemore (L), 0.61%
    • Sven Johnson (I), 0.01%
  • 2002 campaign for Congress
    • Bart Stupak (D), 67.67%
    • Don Hooper (R), 31.10%
    • John W. Loosemore (L), 1.23%
  • 2004 general election
    • Bart Stupak (D), 65.57%
    • Don Hooper (R), 32.76%
    • David J. Newland (G), 0.96%
    • John W. Loosemore (L), 0.71%
  • 2006 general election
    • Bart Stupak (D), 69.43%
    • Don Hooper (R), 27.99%
    • Joshua J. Warren (Tax.), 0.88%
    • David J. Newland (G), 0.87%
    • Kenneth L. Proctor (L), 0.85%
  • 2008 general election
    • Bart Stupak (D), 65.04%
    • Tom Casperson (R), 32.74%
    • Jean Treacy (S/G), 0.81%
    • Dan Grow (L), 0.77%
    • Joshua J. Warren (Tax.), 0.63%

Personal life

Stupak lives in Menominee, Michigan, with his wife, Laurie, who is a former mayor of Menominee, and unsuccessful candidate for the Michigan House of Representatives. Laurie Stupak was defeated by Tom Casperson. In 2008 Casperson unsuccessfully challenged Bart Stupak, the incumbent for Michigan's 1st Congressional district seat in the United States House of Representatives.

The Stupaks' son Ken graduated from Pepperdine University's School of Law in 2006 and resides in California. Their other son, Bart Jr., committed suicide in May 2000. Congressman Stupak testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee during a 2002 hearing on the safety of Accutane, an acne medication, which he believes contributed to his son's death.[39]


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