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Dan Burton

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 5th district
Assumed office 
January 3, 2003
Preceded by Steve Buyer

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 6th district
In office
January 3, 1983 – January 3, 2003
Preceded by David W. Evans
Succeeded by Mike Pence

Born June 21, 1938 (1938-06-21) (age 71)
Indianapolis, Indiana
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Samia Tawil
Residence Indianapolis, Indiana
Alma mater Cincinnati Christian University
Occupation insurance agent, real estate broker
Religion Christian Churches/Churches of Christ
Military service
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1956-1962

Danny "Dan" Lee Burton (born June 21, 1938) is an American politician. He is a member of the United States House of Representatives for Indiana's 5th congressional district, which includes most of the northern suburbs of Indianapolis as well as the southern fringe of the Fort Wayne area. A Republican, his first term in the United States Congress began in January 1983. He was elected to his fourteenth term in November 2008.

Burton's district includes Tipton, Grant, Miami, Wabash, Huntington, Hamilton, and Hancock counties, and parts of Marion, Shelby, Howard and Johnson counties.



Burton was born in Indianapolis. His father, a former policeman[1] was abusive to his mother[2] and never held a job for very long. The family moved constantly, living in trailer parks, cabins, and motels. In June 1950, some years after the couple divorced,[1] his mother went to the police and got a restraining order against his father. He responded by kidnapping Burton's mother. Burton and his younger brother and sister were briefly sent to the Marion County Children's Guardian Home.[3] After his mother escaped, Burton's father went to jail for two years. Burton's mother remarried, and Burton and his younger brother and sister had happier teenage years.[4][5]

Burton's first wife, Barbara (Logan) Burton, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993[6] at the age of 56. She died on in 2002 after battling breast and colon cancer. They had three children together: Kelly, Danielle and Danny.

In September 1998, Burton admitted to fathering a son, born in 1983, with a former state employee.[1][3] After the admission, one report claimed, "During part of the 1970s and '80s, Dan Burton was known as the biggest skirt-chaser in the Indiana legislature ... Privately, some of his fellow Republicans expressed embarrassment. Lobbyists whispered about the stories of Burton's escapades. Statehouse reporters joked about him. Yet no one ever wrote about, or probably thought about writing anything. To the people who sent him first to the legislature and then to Congress, Burton was Mr. Conservative, the devout husband and father who espoused family values."[1]

In August 2006, Burton remarried to Dr. Samia Tawil in Park City, Utah.[3] She was the internist who cared for Burton's wife, Barbara, during her battle with cancer. Tawil and her first husband had divorced in 2005.[7]

In June 2007, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington reported that during the 2001-2006 period, Burton's campaign fund had paid $143,900 to his daughter Danielle Sarkins, who manages his campaign office. It is not illegal for federal candidates to pay family members for political work, as long as they are paid fair market value, the Federal Election Commission has ruled.[8]

Burton's brother, Woody Burton, is a Republican member of the Indiana House of Representatives, representing District 58.[9][10]

Education and early career

Burton worked as a caddy at a local country club in order to make ends meet, where he learned the golf skills that lead to his winning a statewide golf championship in high school.[1] He graduated from Shortridge High School in 1957, and attended Indiana University (1958–59) and the Cincinnati Bible Seminary (now known as Cincinnati Christian University) (1959–60). He served in the United States Army from 1956 to 1957, before leaving active duty to return to college but remained in the Army Reserves from 1957 to 1962. After school, Burton became a real estate broker and he founded the Dan Burton Insurance Agency in 1968.[3]

Burton was a member of the Indiana House of Representatives from 1967 to 1968 and again from 1977 to 1980 and the Indiana State Senate from 1969 to 1970 and again from 1981 to 1982.[11]

U.S. House of Representatives


Elections to the House

Burton first ran for Congress in 1970, losing to incumbent Democrat Andrew Jacobs, Jr. Burton ran again in 1972, losing in the Republican primary to William Hudnut.[3]

After the 1980 census, the Republican-controlled state legislature created a new 6th District, representing the mostly Republican-leaning counties surrounding Indianapolis. Burton ran in 1982, defeating Bruce Melchert in the GOP primary and Democrat George Grabianowski in the general election. Burton has won every election since 1982, usually getting well above 60 percent of the vote.[3] His district was renumbered as the 5th District after the 2000 census.

In 2008, he faced a challenger in the Republican primary, Dr. John McGoff. Burton defeated McGoff 52% to 45% in the closest race of his career.[12]

Four Repulicans, state representative Mike Murphey, former state representative Luke Messer, businessman Brose McVey and physician John McGoff, have announced their intent to challenge Burton in the 2010 primary.[13]


Actions in Congress

Helms-Burton Legislation

In 1995, Burton authored legislation targeting foreign companies that did business with Cuba. The bill allowed foreign companies to be sued in American courts if, in dealings with the government of Fidel Castro, they acquired assets formerly owned by Americans. In February 1996, Cuba shot down two small Brothers to the Rescue planes piloted by anti-Castro Cuban-Americans. As part of the White House response to crack down on Cuba, President Clinton signed the Helms-Burton Act into law.[3]

Conservative voting record

Burton is a consistent Conservative vote in the US House. In the 109th Congress, he had a 100% rating from the National Right to Life Committee [14]. He also has an A rating with the Gun Owners of America [15].

Burton has received a number of awards from conservative groups, including a Friend of the Farm Bureau award in 2004 from the American Farm Bureau Federation, a True Blue award in 2006 the Family Research Council, eight Guardian of Small Business Awards from the National Federation of Independent Business and twenty-two Spirit of Enterprise awards from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, [16]

The Government Performance and Results Act

Burton was the primary sponsor for a 1998 effort [17], opposed by the Clinton administration [18], to require federal government agencies to do more strategic planning, establish more accountability measurements, and do more reporting on their performance. H.R. 2883, the "Government Performance and Results Act Amendments", was not enacted into law.

Exposing the Winter Hill Gang/FBI Corruption

In his role as Chairman of the House Government Oversight Committee, Burton helped expose FBI corruption that led to the wrongful conviction of Joseph Salvati, Peter Limone, Henry Tameleo and Louis Greco for the murder of Edward "Teddy" Deegan. The three year investigation that Burton spearheaded helped exonerate the four, who were eventually awarded $102 million by Boston Federal Judge Nancy Gertner. [19].

Republican Study Committee

The Republican Study Committee (RSC) was founded in 1973. The group functioned as a Legislative Service Organization until such groups were abolished under House rules in the first days of the 104th Congress (1995). Burton was its last Chairman. Shortly thereafter, the group was restarted as the Conservative Action Team, with representatives Burton, John Doolittle (R-CA), Ernest Istook (R-OK), and Sam Johnson (R-TX) as co-founders. In 2001 the group renamed itself as the Republican Study Committee.[20]

Vaccines and autism

Burton has been an outspoken critic of what he terms the failure of government to determine the cause of an alleged autism epidemic. His grandson became autistic a few days after receiving nine inoculations. "My only grandson became autistic right before my eyes – shortly after receiving his federally recommended and state-mandated vaccines."[21]

In an October 25, 2000, letter to the Department of Health and Human Services, acting in his role as Chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform, Burton asked the agency's director to get the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to recall all vaccines containing the preservative Thimerosal. "We all know and accept that mercury is a neurotoxin, and yet the FDA has failed to recall the 50 vaccines that contain Thimerosal," Burton wrote, adding "Every day that mercury-containing vaccines remain on the market is another day HHS is putting 8,000 children at risk."[22]

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not agree that vaccines containing mercury caused autism, and the US FDA refused to ban the vaccines. Most manufacturers removed the preservatives from their vaccines anyway, with no resulting decrease in autism rates.[23]

Burton continues to maintain a page on his Congressional website called "Autism" which includes his speeches, transcripts from hearings, and newspaper articles on the relationship of autism and vaccines.


Vincent Foster

Burton was one of the most ardent opponents of President Bill Clinton. Rep. Burton led the House inquiry into the death of Vincent Foster; he was convinced that Foster was murdered and urged extensive investigation into the possible involvement of the Clintons. Burton gained attention for re-enacting the alleged crime in his backyard with his own pistol and a pumpkin standing in for Foster's head. After hearings into Democratic fundraising (see section below) began, a Democratic National Committee staffer appeared in a pumpkin suit with a button that read, "Don't shoot."[24] Burton's information during the Whitewater controversy was based on opposition research conducted by Floyd Brown, who founded Citizens United in 1988, to provide a cover of plausible deniability for the Bush-Quayle campaign's Willie Horton attack ad against Michael Dukakis. Because of the problems with the quality of Brown's research and testimony, the investigation was closed.[25]

Drug Warrior

In 1990, Burton introduced legislation that would require the death penalty for drug dealers. "We must educate our children about the dangers of drugs," Burton said, "and impose tough new penalties on dealers." In 1994, son Dan Burton, Jr. (Danny) was arrested while transporting nearly eight pounds of marijuana from Louisiana to Indiana. Just five months later, while awaiting trial in that case, police raided his Indianapolis apartment and Danny was arrested again for growing thirty marijuana plants. Police also found a shotgun in the apartment. Under federal law, Danny faced a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison just for the gun, plus up to three years in prison under state law for all the marijuana. Federal charges were never filed, and Indiana prosecutors got his charges dismissed. In Louisiana, he wound up receiving a mild sanction: a term of community service, probation and house arrest.[26][27]


In 1990, the New York Times reported that in 1989, Burton had been a "celebrity player" at the Bob Hope Classic in Palm Springs, Calif., the Kemper Open in Potomac, Md., the Larry Bird Golf Classic in Indianapolis, the Danny Thompson Memorial tournament in Sun Valley, Idaho, the Sugarloaf Invitational tournament in Maine and the Arte Johnson tournament in Chicago. Such players received free airline flights, free meals, and free lodging from tournament sponsors and, often, free merchandise.[28]

In November 1995, the House voted to prohibit members and their staffs from receiving gifts, including free meals and free travel to charity sports events. Burton, who led the effort to exempt charity trips, said that he played in two golf tournaments each year, and, "We get more of these lobbyists in our office than we do on the golf course."[29]

In January 1997, Burton played in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, at the invitation of AT&T, the tournament sponsor. The day before the tournament, he played a practice round with Robert E. Allen, AT&T's chairman and chief executive, at a nearby country club. AT&T also hosted a campaign fund-raising dinner for Burton at a local restaurant. Three weeks earlier, Burton had become the chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, which had jurisdiction over the legislative agency scheduled to soon award at least $5 billion in long-distance and local telephone and telecommunications contracts with the federal government. Burton defended his participation in the tournament, saying it would not affect his objectivity when dealing with telecommunications issues. He said that he had partially paid for the trip, with his re-election campaign funds paying as well because he attended three fund-raising events while in California.[30]

In December 2004, Burton and two aides flew to the island of Guam. The trip was paid for by the Guam government and tourism industry. In addition to some official events, including touring a military facility, Burton played in a charity golf tournament. After he returned, he tried to help Guam's tourism industry get a sought-after change in visa rules.[31]

In January 2007, the House passed a measure by a vote 430-1 that banned members from accepting gifts and free trips from lobbyists and discounted trips on private planes. Burton cast the sole nay vote.[32]

In February 2007, a review by the Indianapolis Star of votes in the House of Representatives for the past decade showed that Burton had missed all votes during the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic golf tournament for five years between 2001 and 2007. The tournament, the third event each season on the PGA Tour, pairs celebrities with golf professionals for four of the five days of play. Since 2004, Burton has played in a guest spot of the Eisenhower Medical Center, the primary charitable beneficiary of the event. The slot carries with it a commitment to donate $10,000 to the event; Burton has made arrangements with the hospital to do this over a period of time. Burton's campaign committee reported donating $1,500 to the medical center in December 2004 and $6,353 in January 2006.[31]

The Indianapolis Star review also found that in 2006, Burton ranked last in voting among members of Congress from Indiana, missing 11 percent of the 541 recorded votes.[31]. In 2007, the Indianapolis star rated his voting record as "one of the strongest in the House, with an attendance record consistently above 95%."[33]

"... off the coast of Bolivia"

On March 29, 1995, during congressional hearings on the US War on Drugs, Burton proclaimed that the US military "should place an aircraft carrier off the coast of Bolivia and crop dust the coca fields." It was later pointed out to him that a) Bolivia is landlocked and has no coast (Burton was chairman of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee); b) the Bolivian coca fields (in the yungas and Amazon lowlands) are beyond the reach of any carrier-borne crop-duster, being separated from the nearest coastline (the Pacific coast of Peru and Chile) by the 20,000+ feet high peaks of the Andes; and c) F-18s cannot crop-dust. While criticism of this mis-statement was muted in Washington, it sparked a major anti-American backlash in Bolivia, derailing the same War on Drugs that Burton purported to be speaking for. [34] [35]

Investigation of Democratic Party fund-raising

In 1997, Burton headed an investigation into possible Democratic Party campaign finance abuse, focusing on the 1996 Presidential election. The committee investigation ran for several years and issued over 1,000 subpoenas of Clinton administration officials and cost over $7 million.[36]. The committee, and Burton's leadership, were labeled a "farce"[37], a "travesty"[38], a "parody"[38], and "its own cartoon, a joke, and a deserved embarrassment".[39]

In March 1997, as the investigation began, Burton was accused of demanding a $5,000 contribution from a Pakistani lobbyist. The lobbyist said that when he was unable to raise the funds, Burton complained to the Pakistani ambassador and threatened to make sure "none of his friends or colleagues" would meet with the lobbyist or his associates.[40]

In May 1998, Burton apologized for releasing edited transcripts of prison audiotapes of Webster Hubbell, a former associate of President Bill Clinton. The edited transcripts omitted substantial information and differed significantly from the original recordings. Burton was harshly criticized by members of his own party, including Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who called the investigation a "circus" and chided Burton for initially refusing to admit any error.[41].

David Bossie, the staff member who arranged the editing and release of the tapes, resigned on Burton's request. Noting that Burton had personally released the tapes and had supported Bossie's plans over the objections of other committee staffers and attorneys, Democrats urged Burton to step down as well. Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt said, "A committee staff member should not be made the scapegoat for Chairman Burton's mistakes, missteps, and misdeeds."[41] Burton said, "I take responsibility for those mistakes," but never resigned nor faced any consequences for his actions[41].

In President Clinton's final year in office, Burton was mentioned in a short film for the White House Correspondent's Dinner. President Clinton: Final Days, which depicted Clinton as a lonely man closing down a nearly-deserted White House. Clinton is shown hitting golf balls from the South Lawn, and gets excited when he hits a car parked in a spot near the U.S. Capitol that says "Reserved for Chairman Burton."

Constituent mailings

An Arizona newspaper study ranked Burton as the fifth-biggest user of free congressional mail, sending constituents more than $190,000 worth of mail in 2007.[42]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Portrait of a political 'pit bull'", Salon magazine, December 22, 1998
  2. ^ Nicole Kidman Speaks on the Hill, October 21, 2009, Politico.Com. Accessed October 22, 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Rep. Dan Burton — Member of Congress representing Indiana's 5th District", "Library Factfiles", Indianapolis Star, updated 1/2007, retrieved February 25, 2007
  4. ^ "When Violence Hits Home: A Congressman's Searing Memories of his Abusive Father", Dan Burton, People magazine, April 4, 1994
  5. ^ "Congressman Burton speaks out on domestic violence", TV Station WTHR, Indianapolis, July 12, 2007
  6. ^ "Living treasures: Dan Burton". Mothering Magazine. Gale Group. November–December 2001. Retrieved 2007-05-12.  
  7. ^ Susan Guyett, [1], Indianapolis Star, September 13, 2006
  8. ^ Matt Kelley, "Lawmakers used campaign funds to pay relatives", USA Today, June 17, 2007
  9. ^ Representative Charles "Woody" Burton, Project Vote Smart. Accessed October 22, 2009.
  10. ^ Woody Burton: Dan's Been An Example, Accessed October 22, 2009.
  11. ^
  12. ^ McFeely, Dan (2008-05-07). "Burton holds off challenger". The Indianapolis Star. Retrieved 2008-05-07.  
  13. ^ Skotzko, Stacey (Aug 18, 2009). "In 14th term, Burton facing tough GOP primary". CQ Politics. Retrieved 2009-09-04.  
  14. ^ [2], National Right to Life Committee Scorecard
  15. ^ [3], Gun Owners of America Scorecard
  16. ^ Awards Received By Congressman Dan Burton
  17. ^ [4], "CRS Report: 98-224"
  18. ^ [5], "Statement of Administration Policy: H.R. 2883 - Government Performance and Results Act Amendments"
  19. ^ [6], "USA Today: Gov't to pay $102M for mob convictions"
  20. ^ [7], "Republican Study Committee website"
  21. ^ Dan Burton, opening statement before the Committee on Government Reform hearing on The Status of Research into Vaccine Safety and Autism, June 19, 2002
  22. ^ "Chairman Burton Requests Vaccine Recall", press release, October 26, 2000
  23. ^ Paulson, Tom. "Autism experts bring insights to Seattle Scientists, parents work together to unravel mystery". Seattle Post Intelligencer. Retrieved 2007-05-12.  
  24. ^ "Fool on the Hill", TIME Magazine, May 8–10, 1998
  25. ^ Thomas G. Wells, "Witness Denies Fabricating Clinton Story," Dallas Morning News, April 6, 1996.
  26. ^ "Casualties of the Marijuana War",, March 27, 1997
  27. ^ "The Politics Of Pot: A Government In Denial", Rolling Stone Magazine, March 4, 1999
  28. ^ Richard L. Burke, "For Congress, Golfing Is Working on the Green By", New York Times, September 3, 1990
  29. ^ Adam Clymer, "House Approves Rule to Prohibit Lobbyists' Gifts", New York Times, November 17, 1995
  30. ^ Don van Natta Jr., " Critic of White House Ethics Let AT&T Give Him Favor", New York Times, March 9, 1997
  31. ^ a b c Maureen Groppe, "To golf, Burton missed 19 votes", Indianapolis Star, February 5, 2007
  32. ^ "Democrat-Led House Changes Budget, Ethics Rules", Associated Press, January 5, 2007
  33. ^ "Star Library Fact Files", Indianapolis Star, January 2007
  34. ^ Youngers, Coletta (April 1995). Fueling Failure: U.S. Drug Control Efforts in the Andes. The Washington Office on Latin America. Retrieved 2007-05-12.  
  35. ^ Kawell, JoAnn (May 2001). Closing the Latin American Air-Bridge: A Disturbing History. Foreign Policy In Focus. Retrieved 2007-05-12.  
  36. ^ "The Raw Story: Arkansas Senator happy to see top Rove aide end term as US Attorney". Retrieved 2007-06-13.  
  37. ^ last, marc (May 2, 1998). "House Probe of Campaign Fund-Raising Uncovers Little". Los Angeles Times.,+1998&author=MARC+LACEY&pub=Los+Angeles&edition=&startpage=14&desc=NEWS+ANALYSIS.  
  38. ^ a b Editorial, New York Times, March 20, 1997
  39. ^ Editorial, Washington Post, April 12, 1997
  40. ^ Babcock, Charles R. (March 19 1997). "Pakistan Lobbyist's Memo Alleges Shakedown by House Probe Leader". Washington Post: p. A01. Retrieved 2007-05-12.  
  41. ^ a b c Lardner Jr., George; Juliet Eilperin (May 7, 1998). "Burton Apologizes to GOP". Washington Post: p. A01. Retrieved 2007-05-12.  
  42. ^ "Challengers Claim Rep Abused Free Mail Privileges". August 31, 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-04.  

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
David W. Evans
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 6th congressional district

Succeeded by
Mike Pence
Preceded by
Steve Buyer
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 5th congressional district

2003 – present
Political offices
Preceded by
Bill Clinger
Chairman of House Government Reform Committee
Succeeded by
Tom Davis


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