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Mike Leavitt


In office
January 26, 2005 – January 20, 2009
President George W. Bush
Preceded by Tommy Thompson
Succeeded by Kathleen Sebelius

In office
2003 – 2005
Preceded by Marianne Lamont Horinko
Succeeded by Stephen L. Johnson

In office
1993 – 2003
Lieutenant Olene S. Walker
Preceded by Norman H. Bangerter
Succeeded by Olene S. Walker

Born February 11, 1951 (1951-02-11) (age 58)
Cedar City, Utah
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Jacalyn Smith
Alma mater Southern Utah University
Religion The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Michael Okerlund Leavitt (born February 11, 1951, in Cedar City, Utah) is an American politician. He served as the Secretary of Health and Human Services from 2005 to 2009, and as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency from 2003 to 2005. He was the 14th Governor of Utah from 1993 to 2003.

Contents

Early life and family

Leavitt graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics and business from Southern Utah University and married Jacalyn Smith. They have five children.

Leavitt is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Secretary Leavitt's ancestor Dudley Leavitt, a Mormon pioneer born in Quebec of New Hampshire parents, has been linked to the Mountain Meadows massacre in 1857.[1] On a visit to the site while Utah's Governor, Leavitt expressed his regrets over the incident.

Governor of Utah

A Republican, Leavitt was the 14th Governor of the State of Utah. Leavitt first ran for governor in 1992. He had tough competition in the primary from Ricahrd Eyre who had more delegates vote for him at the state Republican convention. Leavitt was re-elected in 1996 with the largest vote total in state history. In 2000 he became only the second Governor in Utah history to be re-elected to a third term. As Governor, he held leadership positions in national and regional organizations, such as the Council of State Governments, over which he presided for a year.

While Governor, Leavitt and Roy Romer of Colorado were the two key founders of Western Governors University (WGU) one of the first exclusively online schools in the nation. In addition to Leavitt and Romer, 17 other governors signed legislation creating WGU as a non-profit private university.

EPA Administrator

On August 11, 2003, President George W. Bush nominated Leavitt as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency at a press conference in Aurora, Colorado. He was confirmed on October 28, 2003 by a vote of 88–8 in the United States Senate. On November 5, having resigned the governorship, Leavitt was sworn in as the 10th Administrator of the EPA.

At the Environmental Protection Agency he implemented higher standards for ozone, diesel fuels and other air pollutants. He organized and managed a collaboration to develop a federal plan to clean up the Great Lakes.

Health and Human Services Secretary

On December 13, 2004, Leavitt was nominated by Bush to succeed Tommy Thompson as Secretary of Health and Human Services, and was confirmed by the Senate by voice vote on January 26, 2005.

Mr. Leavitt has described the avian influenza virus as the most serious threat to American security. Secretary Leavitt cited the work of the World Health Organization's Dr. Michael McCoy as the most compelling scientific work into the avian flu threat.

Leavitt also served on the Homeland Security Advisory Council.

The Michael O. Leavitt Online Digital Collection is found at: http://www.leavittcollection.org

In August 2007, Leavitt became the first cabinet-level blogger in U.S. history.

Electoral history

  • 2000 Race for Governor
    • Michael Leavitt (R) (inc.), 56%
    • Bill Orton (D), 42%
  • 1996 Race for Governor
  • 1992 Race for Governor
    • Michael Leavitt (R), 42%
    • Merrill Cook (I), 34%
    • Stewart Hanson (D), 23%

Controversy

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Polygamy

Himself a descendent of polygamists, Leavitt came under strong criticism in 1998, while Governor, when he defended polygamy by saying, "It might enjoy religious freedom." He was later forced to backpedal and claimed that polygamy should be against the law.[2]

Gulfstream

In June 2006, Leavitt came under criticism for using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Gulfstream III Emergency Response aircraft to, primarily, promote the newly reformed Medicare plan.

Critics argue that Leavitt irresponsibly used the aircraft beginning in January 2006, logging over $700,000 worth of flight time in the 14-seat private jet. Leavitt’s office maintains that the use of the aircraft was necessary and legal since the Senate Appropriations Committee approved his use of the aircraft, and commercial services could not meet the deadlines required by his engagements. During two emergencies when the CDC required use of the aircraft, it was forced to privately charter another plane since the CDC’s GIII was in use by Leavitt.

Leavitt Foundation controversies

There has been controversy over Leavitt's family charitable foundation, the Dixie and Anne Leavitt Foundation, which the Leavitt family established in 2000 and to which it has donated nearly $9 million of assets. It has provided them with tax write-offs for the donated assets. About a third of the foundation's assets have been loaned back to family businesses, such as a $332,000 loan to Leavitt Land and Investment Inc., in which Mike Leavitt has a substantial interest. (Future affiliate transactions are prohibited because of a law passed by Congress in August 2006.)

In July 2006, National Public Radio reported that nearly $500,000 in charitable contributions from the foundation went to the Southern Utah Foundation, which then gave the money to Southern Utah University as housing scholarships. About 50 students were placed, rent-free to themselves, in apartments owned by the Cedar Development Co., which is owned by the Leavitt family, and the university then paid the donated money to the company as rent. The students filled vacant apartments which the company had not been able to rent out.

Total charitable grants from the foundation during its first six years were $1,468,055. The foundation's principal beneficiaries have been Southern Utah University and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Other beneficiaries have included arts, educational and humanitarian organizations, including the Leavitt family genealogical society. (Leavitt is a descendant of an old Massachusetts Puritan family, and a direct descendant of Dudley Leavitt, a Mormon pioneer named for his ancestor Thomas Dudley, the second colonial governor of Massachusetts.)

Utah Governor's Mansion Fire

Built in 1902 by the prominent mining magnate, U.S. Senator Thomas Kearns, the Governor's Mansion was given to the State of Utah by Kearns widow Jennie Judge Kearns in 1937. In 1993, a holiday fire shortly before noon on December 15, 1993 destroyed much of the mansion, but spared the lives of the first family and staff (Mrs. Leavitt and some members of the family and staff were in the home at the time of the fire). Insurance documents indicate that Mrs. Leavitt had about 12 plugs in an outlet, which probably caused the fire. The information released was that the fire was caused by "faulty wiring." The two and a half year restoration with updates cost in excess of $7.8 million.

References

  1. ^ Carelton, James Henry. "Mountain Meadow Massacre", accessed August 11, 2009.
  2. ^ Salt Lake City Tribune, Aug 9 and 29, 1998

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Norman H. Bangerter
Governor of Utah
1993–2003
Succeeded by
Olene S. Walker
Preceded by
Tom Carper
Delaware
Chairman of the National Governors Association
1999 – 2000
Succeeded by
Parris Glendening
Maryland
Preceded by
Tommy Thompson
United States Secretary of Health and Human Services
Served under: George W. Bush

2005-2009
Succeeded by
Kathleen Sebelius
Government offices
Preceded by
Christine Todd Whitman
Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
Served under: George W. Bush

2003 – 2005
Succeeded by
Stephen L. Johnson

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