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Richard Shelby

Assumed office 
January 3, 1987
Serving with Jeff Sessions
Preceded by Jeremiah Denton

In office
January 3, 1997 – January 3, 2001
Preceded by Arlen Specter
Succeeded by Bob Graham
In office
January 3 – June 6, 2001
Preceded by Bob Graham
Succeeded by Bob Graham

In office
January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2007
Preceded by Paul Sarbanes
Succeeded by Christopher Dodd

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's 7th district
In office
January 3, 1979 – January 3, 1987
Preceded by Walter Flowers
Succeeded by Claude Harris, Jr.

Member of the Alabama Senate from 16th district
In office
January 1971 – January 1979
Succeeded by Ryan DeGraffenried

Special Assistant Attorney General of Alabama
In office
January 1969 – January 1971

In office
January 1966 – January 1970

Tuscaloosa City Prosecutor
In office
January 1963 – January 1971

Born May 6, 1934 (1934-05-06) (age 75)
Birmingham, Alabama [1]
Political party Democratic (1979-94)
Republican (1994-present)
Spouse(s) Annette Shelby (1985-present)
Children Richard Shelby, Jr.; Claude Nevin Shelby
Residence Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Alma mater University of Alabama
Occupation Politician, Attorney
Religion Presbyterian

Richard Craig Shelby (born May 6, 1934) is the senior U.S. Senator from Alabama. Originally elected to the Senate as a Democrat, Shelby switched to the Republican Party in 1994 when it gained the majority in Congress.


Early years, education, and family

Shelby was born in Birmingham, Alabama[2] to Alice L. (née Skinner) and Ozie Houston Shelby.[3] He attended the University of Alabama, receiving an undergraduate degree in 1957 and a Juris Doctor in 1963.

Shelby is a member of the American Bar Association and Alabama State Bar, as well as the American Judicature Society, Alabama Law Institute, Delta Chi Fraternity, and Phi Alpha Delta legal fraternity.

Shelby currently lives in Tuscaloosa with his wife, Annette Nevin Shelby. They have two sons, Richard Jr., and Claude Nevin.

Early career

Shelby was a city prosecutor in Tuscaloosa, Alabama from 1963 to 1971. From 1966 to 1970, he was a U.S. Magistrate for the Northern District of Alabama; from 1969 to 1971, Shelby was a Special Assistant State Attorney General.

Shelby began his legislative career as a member of the Alabama Senate in 1970, serving until 1978, when he was elected to the House of Representatives from the Tuscaloosa-based 7th District. He was reelected three times. He was one of the more conservative Democrats in Congress, and a member of the boll weevils, a group of moderate to conservative leaning Democrats who often worked with Republican President Ronald Reagan on defense issues.

U.S. Senate


Elections and party

In 1986, Shelby won the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat held by Republican Jeremiah Denton, the first Republican elected to the Senate from Alabama since Reconstruction. He won a very close race as the Democrats regained control of the Senate. He was easily re-elected in 1992 even as Bill Clinton lost Alabama's electoral votes.

Shelby publicly feuded with Bill Clinton during the first half of Clinton's first term (1993-1994). At a meeting with Vice President Al Gore, he turned to 19 Alabama TV cameras and denounced the Clinton program as "high on taxes, low on spending cuts". However, as Clinton's approval ratings began to decline, Shelby's popularity ratings became some of the highest in the state. He voted with Senate Republicans against the administration on almost every partisan issue.

On November 9, 1994, Shelby switched his party affiliation to Republican, one day after the Republicans won control of both houses in the midterm elections, giving the Republicans a 53-47 majority in the Senate. He won his first full term as a Republican in 1998 by a large margin, and faced no significant opposition in 2004.

Shelby remains relatively popular in Alabama. A September 2009 poll showed he had a 58% approval rating, with 35% disapproving.[4] Shelby opposed the economic bailout of the Big Three Auto Industry.[5]


Shelby served on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence from 1995 to 2003, stepping down because of a Senate rule limiting committee terms to eight years. Shelby took an adversarial stance towards the intelligence community during both Clinton and Bush administrations. He helped sink Anthony Lake's nomination as CIA director in 1997 and promised to investigate the use of American-made satellites by the Chinese to gather intelligence. He was also highly critical of CIA Director George Tenet in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. When Tenet resigned in July 2004, Shelby commented "This is not a surprise to me at all. What was a surprise was that he held onto the job as long as he did".

From 2003 until 2007, he chaired the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. He is also a member of the Appropriations Committee (where he chaired its subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science) and Special Committee on Aging. He lost his chairmanships in 2007 when the Democrats regained control of the Senate.

In 2004, a federal investigation concluded that Shelby revealed classified information to the media when he was a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.[6 ] Specifically, Shelby revealed classified information on June 19, 2002 to Carl Cameron, the chief political correspondent on Fox News. This information had been given to Shelby only minutes before at a closed intelligence committee meeting. This information consisted of two messages intercepted by the National Security Agency on September 10, 2001, but translated only after the attacks the next day — "the match is about to begin" and "tomorrow is zero hour."

Both the U.S. attorney's office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigated the case, and a grand jury empaneled. In July 2004, the Department of Justice declined to file criminal charges against Shelby and transferred the case to the Senate Ethics Committee.

On August 11, 2004, media sources confirmed that Shelby had hired Washington-based attorney Gregory Craig to represent him in investigations by the Ethics Committee. In November 2005, the Senate Ethics Committee dismissed its probe into the alleged leak of classified information regarding National Security Agency intercepts the day before the attacks, administering no punishment to Shelby.

Shelby, in his role as chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, & Urban Affairs, opposed proposed legislation that would have permitted additional competition in the title insurance industry.[7]

Shelby and his wife own between $1 million and $5 million of stock in Tuscaloosa Title Co.[8] His staff stated that his opposition to the bills is unrelated to his relationship with Tuscaloosa Title.[7][9]

Shelby is currently co-chair of the Congressional Privacy Caucus and Zero Capital Gains Tax Caucus. He is also the Senate co-chair of the National Security Caucus. In addition, he is a member of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Senate Centrist Coalition.

In the Metroplex of DallasFort Worth, Shelby is known for the Shelby Amendment, a law he sponsored that eased some of the restrictions placed on Dallas' secondary airport by the contentious Wright Amendment.

At a meeting on February 21, 2009, Shelby called into question whether Barack Obama had been born in the United States, and therefore able to be President of the United States. When asked if there was any truth in the rumor that there was an issue regarding Obama's citizenship, Shelby responded "Well his father was Kenyan and they said he was born in Hawaii, but I haven’t seen any birth certificate. You have to be born in America to be president.”[10] A Shelby spokesman later clarified that Shelby meant only that, "while he hasn't personally seen the President's birth certificate, he is confident that the matter has been thoroughly examined."[11]

Political views

Shelby took a leading role in the resistance to bailing out the banks and other corporations (such as AIG), both under the Bush Administration, in 2008, and the Obama Administration, beginning in 2009.

Shelby opposes gun control and abortion, and supports the Federal Marriage Amendment. He has also been a staunch advocate of a flat tax and of the Bush Administration's tax cuts. He cites disagreements with the Democrats on tax policy as one of the main reasons he became a Republican; he feels the Democrats are too willing to enact tax increases. Among the bills sponsored by Shelby over the years have been bills to make English the sole language of the federal government, to limit federal government spending by statute, and to provide a moratorium on certain forms of immigration.

Shelby is considered to be much more independent-minded than his Senate colleague from Alabama, Jeff Sessions. For instance, shortly after becoming a Republican he voted against two major tort reform bills, the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act and the Common Sense Product Liability and Legal Reform Act. Both bills were vetoed by President Clinton, though the first bill was successfully passed over his veto. In 1999 he was the only Senate Republican to vote against the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. Shelby also voted against the North American Free Trade Agreement and opposes most free trade agreements, most recently the Central America Free Trade Agreement. He also opposed the confirmation of Robert Bork to the United States Supreme Court in 1987 (when Shelby was still a Democrat). He supported the confirmation of Samuel Alito almost two decades later.

In 1999, Shelby was one of ten Republican senators to vote for the acquittal of President Bill Clinton on the charge of perjury when Clinton was tried in the Senate in 1999, although he voted for Clinton's conviction on the charge of obstruction of justice.

Shelby opposed the initial bailout proposal to extend billions of dollars in loan money to the Big Three US Auto Manufacturers. He is often seen as a front man for the GOP Senate opposition and is given some credit for efforts to modify the emergency funding to ensure responsible reform by the manufacturers in order to benefit the companies, the government and the consumer. In late 2008, he opposed a Federal government bridge loan for US-owned auto companies, saying: "We don't need government - governmental subsidies for manufacturing in this country. It's the French model, it's the wrong road. We will pay for it. The average American taxpayer is going to pay dearly for this, if I'm not wrong." However, foreign-owned auto manufacturers Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Toyota, and Hyundai received approximately $788 million in government subsidies in the cities of Vance, Lincoln, Huntsville, and Montgomery in Shelby's home state of Alabama, according to analysis by Good Jobs First. Good Jobs First executive Director Greg LeRoy pointed out that "while proposed federal aid to the Big 3 would take the form of a loan, the vast majority of subsidies to foreign auto plants were taxpayer gifts such as property and sales tax exemptions, income tax credits, infrastructure aid, land discounts, and training grants."[12] All of these things have also been offered to the unionized American auto manufacturers.

Environmental record

In 2005, Shelby received a 0 percent on the Republicans for Environmental Protection's ("REP") environmental scorecard.[13] He voted in a manner inconsistent with what the REP considers pro-environment on all 15 issues considered environmentally critical by the REP. Issues in which Senator Shelby voted anti-environment were: all amendments to the Energy Policy Act proposed in 2005, the issue of authorizing drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, and reducing fuel economy standards for vehicles.

Shelby received a 5 percent from the League of Conservation Voters ("LCV") scorecard for his pro-environment vote on the issue of the Central America Free Trade Agreement.[14] CAFTA is criticized by the LCV for its low environmental standards involving trade with Central American countries. This pro-environment vote, however, was outweighed by his supposed "anti-environment" votes on the energy conference report, renewable energy, farm conservation programs, global warming, natural gas facilities, fuel economy requirements, and various other issues.

In 2006, Shelby received a 0 percent from the REP[15] and a 0 percent from the LCV.[14] According to these organizations, he voted "anti-environment" on the issue of energy and weatherization assistance, on drilling, environmental funding, peer review, renewable resources, and The Gulf of Mexico Security Act.

Committee assignments

Group ratings (108th Congress)


  • The Shelby Hall Research Center at University of Alabama is named for Senator Shelby and his wife, a professor emerita at that university. The 200,000 square feet (19,000 m2) square foot new center opened in 2004 and combines engineering, science (chemistry and materials research) and transportation research in one building.
  • The Richard C. and Annette N. Shelby Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research Building at the University of Alabama at Birmingham opened in April 2006. The building, costing $90 million, 12 stories high, with 323,000 square feet (30,000 m2)square feet, increased UAB's available research space by 25%. Shelby was instrumental in securing federal funds for the building
  • The Senator Richard C. and Dr. Annette N. Shelby Center for Engineering Technology, part of the Ginn College of Engineering at Auburn University, was dedicated on April 18, 2008. Shelby helped secure $30 million of the $54 million cost of Phase I of the project.[16]

Electoral history

|United States Senate Election 2010 |Richard Shelby (R) (inc.)100%

|Note: The Filling Deadline was January 1,2010, and no democrat filed, therefore He will run unopposed.

United States Senate election in Alabama, 2004

Richard Shelby (R) (inc.) 68%
Wayne Sowell 32% (D)

United States Senate election in Alabama, 1998

Richard Shelby (R) (inc.) 63.2%
Clayton Suddith 36.7% (D)

United States Senate election in Alabama, 1992

Richard Shelby (D) (inc.) 64.8%
Richard Sellers (R) 33.1%
Jerome Shockley (Lib.) 2%

United States Senate election in Alabama, 1986

Richard Shelby (D) 50.2%
Jeremiah Denton (R) (inc.) 49.8%

1984 Alabama 7th District United States Congressional Election

Richard Shelby (D) (inc.) 97%
Chuck Ewing (Lib.) 3%

Further reading

  • Bamford, James. A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America's Intelligence Agencies. New York: Doubleday. pp. 127–131. ISBN 0-385-50672-4.


External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Walter Flowers
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's 7th congressional district

1979 – 1987
Succeeded by
Claude Harris, Jr.
United States Senate
Preceded by
Jeremiah Denton
United States Senator (Class 3) from Alabama
1987 – present
Served alongside: Howell T. Heflin, Jeff Sessions
Political offices
Preceded by
Arlen Specter
Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee
1997 – 2001
Succeeded by
Bob Graham
Preceded by
Paul Sarbanes
Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee
2003 – 2007
Succeeded by
Christopher Dodd
Party political offices
Preceded by
James E. Folsom, Jr.
Democratic nominee for United States Senator from Alabama
(Class 3)

1986, 1992
Succeeded by
Clayton Suddith
Preceded by
Richard Sellers
Republican nominee for United States Senator from Alabama
(Class 3)

1998, 2004
Most recent
United States order of precedence
Preceded by
Barbara Mikulski
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
John McCain


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