Jerry Lewis (politician): Wikis


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Jerry Lewis

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 41st district
Assumed office 
January 3, 1979
Preceded by Shirley Neil Pettis

Born October 21, 1934 (1934-10-21) (age 75)
Seattle, Washington
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Arlene Lewis
Residence Redlands, California
Alma mater UCLA
Occupation insurance broker
Religion Presbyterian

Charles Jeremy Lewis (born October 21, 1934), an American politician, has been a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives since 1979, representing the 41st District of California.

He is currently the ranking Republican member on the House Appropriations Committee. He served as its chairman during the 109th Congress.


Early life

Lewis was born in Seattle, Washington. In 1952 he graduated from San Bernardino High School in San Bernardino, California, where he captained the swim team and was a basketball star; his basketball jersey was later retired.[1] In 1956 he received a B.A. from UCLA.

Career prior to Congress

After college, Lewis was in the insurance business. He was a member of the San Bernardino School Board from 1964 to 1968. He was on the staff of Congressman Jerry Pettis in 1966. He was a member of the California State Assembly from 1969 to 1978. In January 1974, he ran in a special election for the California State Senate, losing to Democrat Ruben Ayala. In the campaign, Ayala noted that two-thirds of the $130,000 that Lewis raised came from 43 donors — 22 of whom were Sacramento lobbyists.[2]

Congressional career

In November 1978, Lewis was elected as a Republican to the 96th United States Congress, in what was then the 37th Congressional district, with 61 percent of the vote. He has been re-elected every two years since then.



Lewis was chair of the House Republican Conference from 1989 to 1992. In January 1995, he became chairman of the Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development and Independent Agencies Appropriations subcommittee. In January 1999, he became chairman of the Defense Appropriations subcommittee. In January 2005 he became chair of the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

In October 2006, Lewis dismissed 60 contract employees, who made up the majority of investigators for the Appropriations Committee and its subcommittees. An Appropriations spokesman said the dismissals were part of a "bipartisan review" undertaken because the team's recent work "has not been that good", but later acknowledged that Lewis did not seek the approval of the committee's top-ranking Democrat, David R. Obey of Wisconsin, nor had he consulted with other committee Republicans. [3]

Committee assignments

  • Committee on Appropriations (Ranking Member)
    • As Ranking Member of the full committee, Rep. Lewis may serve as an ex officio member of all subcommittees.

Political positions and actions

Lewis is a member of the Republican Main Street Partnership and supports stem-cell research.

Lewis considers himself pro-life, opposes most public funding of abortions, but encourages family planning efforts, which he said has offended some purists.

He thinks gun-control efforts should center on stiff prison terms for repeat criminals who use firearms, but is open to considering requiring trigger locks and other child safety measures for law-abiding gun owners.

The American Conservative Union gave Lewis' 2008 voting record 84 out of 100 points. The liberal Americans for Democratic Action gave him 0 out of 100 for 2005 (most recent available).

Lewis is a signer of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge[4].

Re-election campaigns

Lewis speaking about wildfire prevention

Between 1980 and 1998, Lewis received at least 60 percent of the vote at each election. In 2000 he won with 80 percent of the vote, running against two minor party candidates. In 2002, he won with 67 percent, with his Democratic opponent reported no campaign spending. In 2004 he again had no Democratic opponent in the general election.

In 2006, Lewis ran against Louie Contreras, the owner of an insurance brokerage company [5]. In October 2006 it was reported that Lewis had more than $800,000 of his campaign funds to pay Los Angeles-based law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, for the services of its lawyers.[6] Lewis is connected to an ongoing federal investigation (see below).


Lewis employs his wife, Arlene Willis, as the chief of staff in his office. Before they were married, Willis was her husband's top aide when he came to Capitol Hill in 1979.[7] Lewis and Willis have four children of their own and three children from prior marriages.


In its 2009 report, the liberal Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) named Lewis one of the 15 most corrupt members of Congress, saying that his "ethics issues stem primarily from the misuse of his position as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee to steer hundreds of millions of dollars in earmarks to family and friends in direct exchange for contributions to his campaign committee and political action committee."[8]

Lewis was also included in the group's report in 2006, 2007, and 2008.[9]

Relationships with lobbyists

Bill Lowery and the firm of Copeland Lowery

There is currently a large amount of controversy over the relationship between Lewis and a lobbying firm, Copeland Lowery Jacquez Denton & White, where his good friend and former U.S. Congressman Bill Lowery was a partner between 1993 and 2006. No individual has been formally charged with any wrongdoing, but there is now an ongoing federal investigation being run by the U.S. Attorney's office in Los Angeles, and a federal grand jury in Los Angeles has issued subpoenas to at least ten local governments, universities, and firms.

The basic allegations are that Lewis, by virtue of his chairmanship of the House Appropriations Committee (since January 2005), and his prior chairmanship of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, has been able, through earmarks and other methods, to steer hundreds of millions of dollars to clients of Lowery's firm. Lowery and his firm have earned millions of dollars in fees from these clients. Lowery and others in his firm, in turn, have given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Lewis' campaign committee and political action committee. Defense contractors who are clients of the lobbying firm have also given hundreds of thousands of dollars. Lewis, who has not faced serious opposition in his re-election campaigns in the past ten years, has used his campaign and PAC funds in support of other Republicans, something that helped him become chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

In addition, two key individuals on Lewis' staff (Letitia White and Jeff Shockey) went to work for Copeland Lowery, earning millions of dollars for themselves; Richard White, Letitia's husband, has seen a steep increase in his income since he switched to being a lobbyist for defense firms; Lewis' stepdaughter has benefited from his ties to the lobbyists; and Jeff Shockey, upon returning to work for Lewis in 2005, was paid two million dollars by Copeland Lowery as "severance", based upon projected revenues of the lobbying firm for the eleven months following his departure.

For this incident, the magazine Rolling Stone ranked him one of America's worst congressmen and gave him the nickname "The King of Payoffs" [10].

U.S. Attorney Carol Lam was actively investigating Lewis when she became one of eight U.S. attorneys controversially dismissed in February 2007.[11]

Cerberus Capital Management and Patton Boggs

In March 2003, New York investment company Cerberus Capital Management hired its first lobbyist, the powerhouse firm Patton Boggs. Separately, Cerberus hired former Senator Jake Garn, a Utah Republican, as a lobbyist.

In the early summer of 2003, Lewis said that he heard that "some business people in New York" were interested in giving money to his political action committee, the Future Leaders PAC. On June 16, the Defense Appropriations subcommittee, which Lewis chaired, preserved the money for a Navy-Marine Corps network, an $8.8 billion project that Lewis had criticized in October 2002, and a project that Cerebus had a major interest in, through its ownership share of MCI, a major subcontractor on the project, and Netco Government Services, another major subcontractor.

On June 26, the full House Appropriations committee approved the action of the subcommittee. On July 7, Cerberus raised $110,000 for Lewis at a fundraiser, which Lewis attended. On July 8, the full House passed the defense spending bill, which included the recommended action on the Navy project. Over the following weeks, Cerberus executives and their spouses, lawyers and business associates continued to donate to Lewis' PAC, bringing the total to nearly $130,000 for the month. This amount represented a quarter of all funds collected in 2003 by the PAC ($522,725).

Lewis also got Cerberus to help with his fundraising for the National Republican Congressional Committee, the arm of the GOP that gives money to House candidates. Lewis said he invited Cerberus executives to an April 2004 NRCC fundraiser he chaired that included a speech by President Bush. The NRCC got $70,000 in Cerberus-related donations during the first two weeks of April 2004, including $25,000 from Cerberus founder Stephen Feinberg.

Eighteen months after the July 2003 fundraiser and the full House vote, Lewis won the chairmanship of the Appropriations Committee. He acknowledges that the fundraising efforts of Cerberus "played a very significant role" in winning the post. [12]

Military aide

Lewis' aide in charge of tracking defense appropriations was "a military officer on the Pentagon's payroll, an apparent violation of House rules and a possible conflict of interest".[13] Department of Defense regulations state that military personnel can work on committee staffs but not on the personal staff of an individual member. Lewis' aide, Marine Lt. Col. Carl Kime, has apparently worked for Lewis since 2001 while being on the Pentagon payroll. Congressional watchdogs call Kime's role a conflict of interest and defense experts state that his position may give the Marines greater leverage over contracts and earmarks in the Appropriations Committee.

On February 22, 2006, The Hill reported that the Pentagon was recalling Kime from Lewis's office. Kime's "service for Lewis appeared to violate the Members' Congressional Handbook issued by the Committee for House Administration, which defines a detailee as a 'non-congressional federal employee assigned to a committee for a period of up to one year.' The handbook also states that 'detailees may not be assigned to a member office' and cites the relevant section of U.S. law: 2 USC Section 72a(f)."[14]

Free meals

In October 2006, The Wall Street Journal reported that Lewis and seven other members of Congress flew to Europe in July 2003 to confer with officials in Poland, Portugal and the United Kingdom. On the 11-day trip, the group dined in restaurants from Warsaw to Lisbon. Instead of paying for the meals out of their government allowances, they were treated by a host of defense contractors and lobbyists, most of which sent personnel to Europe to host the meals. The free meals likely violated House rules and possibly federal law, experts on congressional ethics say; both prohibit members from accepting any gifts worth $50 or more; federal law also bans soliciting gifts.[15]

Barracks Row earmarks

In July 2007, CBS News reported that since 2004, Lewis has earmarked $2.75 million for the "Barracks Row" area of Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. "Neither I nor my spouse has any financial interest in this project," Lewis said of the improvements being funded by the earmarks. But the congressman's wife, who is also his chief of staff, owns a three-bedroom home valued at $943,000 that is four blocks from the work being paid for by the earmarks. CBS also reported that Tip Tipton, a property owner in the area and a member of the board of director of the redevelopment project receiving the earmarks, is a top Washington lobbyist who is also a longtime Lewis friend and campaign donor.[16]

Loma Linda University

From 1998 to 2003, Loma Linda University received $167.2 million in congressional earmarks. That made it the number one academic recipient in the country, with its total nearly $60 million more than the runner up, the University of South Florida.[17] In 2000, Loma Linda University was the single largest recipient of higher education earmarks, at $36 million, largely brought in by Lewis. Several grants were from the U.S. Department of Defense, including $5 million from NASA for space radiation research.[citation needed] Lewis has a brother who is employed by that university.[18] In 2008, Loma Linda University received nearly $9.5 million, of which $5 million came from the Defense Department. [19]


  1. ^ William Heisel and Richard Simon, "Inland Empire Pays Firm for D.C. Clout: Why local entities hired the concern when Rep. Jerry Lewis has long delivered U.S. funds to his district isn't clear. The lobbyist is one of his key donors.", Los Angeles Times, June 18, 2006
  2. ^ George Watson, "Issue revisits Lewis: Lobby concern raised in 1974", San Bernardino Sun, July 5, 2006
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ Current Taxpayer Protection Pledge Signers
  5. ^ [2]
  6. ^ Erica Werner, "Rep. Lewis keeps spending on lawyers for federal probe", Associated Press, October 27, 2006
  7. ^ "It's all in the family as lawmakers hire", AP, April 15, 2006.
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ [3]
  11. ^ [4], New York Times
  12. ^ [5]
  13. ^ Alexander Bolton, "Lewis’s use of military aide may break the rules", The Hill, February 2, 2006
  14. ^ Alexander Bolton, "Pentagon recalled Lewis’s approps staffer", The Hill, February 22, 2006
  15. ^ Scot J. Paltrow, "On Overseas Trips, Congress's Rules Are Often Ignored", The Wall Street Journal, October 27, 2006
  16. ^ Sharyl Attkisson, "Controversial Boon For D.C. Neighborhood: Ritzy Barracks Row Benefiting From Congressman's Earmark Boost — From Your Tax Dollars", CBS Evening News, July 20, 2007
  17. ^ Quan, Douglas (July 9, 2006). "Funds for Colleges Raise Objections". Press-Enterprise. Retrieved 2008-06-29. 
  18. ^ Kirkpatrick, David D. (November 26, 2006). "As Power Shifts in New Congress, Pork May Linger". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-09-14. 
  19. ^ "Congressional Earmarks for Higher Education, 2008". Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 2008-06-29. 

As of this edit, this article uses content from SourceWatch, which is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. All relevant terms must be followed. The original article was at "Jerry Lewis".

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
L. Stewart Hinckley
California State Assemblyman, 73rd District
Succeeded by
Robert H. Burke
Preceded by
Paul Bannai
California State Assemblyman, 67th District
Succeeded by
Bill Leonard
Preceded by
Bill Young
Chairman of House Appropriations Committee
Succeeded by
David Obey
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Shirley Neil Pettis
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 37th congressional district

Succeeded by
Alfred A. McCandless
Preceded by
David Dreier
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 35th congressional district

Succeeded by
Maxine Waters
Preceded by
Chris Cox
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 40th congressional district

Succeeded by
Edward R. Royce
Preceded by
Gary G. Miller
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 41st congressional district

2003 – present
Party political offices
Preceded by
Dick Cheney
Chairman of House Republican Conference
Succeeded by
Richard Armey


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