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John Emerson Moss (April 13, 1915 – December 5, 1997) was an American politician of the Democratic party, noted for his championing of the federal Freedom of Information Act through multiple sessions of the United States House of Representatives where he served from 1953 to 1978.

Moss was born in Hiawatha, Carbon County, Utah, in 1915, and moved with his family to Sacramento, California in 1923 where he attended public school and Sacramento Junior College. He held various sales, credit executive, and retail jobs from 1938 and 1943. In 1938 he joined the California Democratic State Central committee where he remained until 1980. He died in San Francisco, California in 1997.

John E. Moss Federal Building in Sacramento, California

Moss served in the United States Navy during World War II and was elected to the California State Legislature in 1949, where he served as the Democratic floor leader until 1952. Moss served in the US House of Representatives for California's 3rd congressional district for 13 terms from 1953 until he retired in 1978. He was nominated by both the Democratic and Republican parties in 1958 and ran unopposed in 1960. Moss earned the distinction of never being defeated in an election for public office.

Moss held the chair for the following subcommittees in the House of Representatives:

  • Special Subcommittee on Government Information
  • Foreign Operations and Government Information Subcommittee of the House Government Operations Committee
  • Commerce and Finance and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittees of the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce
  • Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce

He also served on the following committees:

  • Subcommittee on Natural Resources and Power
  • Subcommittee on Government Information and Individual Rights
  • Subcommittee on Legislation and National Security
  • Committees on Post Office and Civil Service and House Administration
  • Joint Committee on Atomic Energy

His legislative record includes:

  • Freedom of Information Act, which he authored and sponsored through several iterations
  • Consumer Product Safety Act, which he authored and advocated
  • Federal Trade Commission Improvements Act, also known as the Magnuson-Moss Act
  • Deregulatory legislation to establish NASDAQ
  • Consumer protection legislation, including protection against hazards related to automobiles, toys, and toxins

Moss also played an active role in furthering legislative oversight, chairing hearings related to the World Uranium Cartel, FBI foreign security surveillance during the Vietnam War, abuse in federal contracting, GAAP, defensive medicine, pricing and supply of natural gas, passive restraint systems for passenger cars, regulation of pesticides, and amendments to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Congressman Moss is considered the father of modern legislative oversight.

On May 1, 1973 Moss was also the first to call for the House to set up procedures for a bill of impeachment during the Watergate scandal.


External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Frank Henry Buck
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 3rd congressional district

Succeeded by
Bob Matsui

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