Trent Lott: Wikis


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Trent Lott

In office
January 3, 1989 – December 18, 2007
Preceded by John Stennis
Succeeded by Roger Wicker

In office
January 20, 2001 – June 6, 2001
Preceded by Tom Daschle
Succeeded by Tom Daschle
In office
June 12, 1996 – January 3, 2001
Preceded by Bob Dole
Succeeded by Tom Daschle

In office
January 3, 2001 – January 20, 2001
June 6, 2001–January 3, 2003
Preceded by Tom Daschle
Succeeded by Tom Daschle

In office
January 4, 2007 – December 18, 2007
Preceded by Dick Durbin
Succeeded by Jon Kyl

In office
January 3, 1995 – June 12, 1996
Preceded by Wendell Ford
Succeeded by Don Nickles

U.S. House Minority Whip
In office
January 3, 1981 – January 3, 1989
Preceded by Robert H. Michel
Succeeded by Dick Cheney

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Mississippi's 5th district
In office
January 3, 1973 – January 3, 1989
Preceded by William M. Colmer
Succeeded by Larkin I. Smith

Born October 9, 1941 (1941-10-09) (age 68)
Grenada, Mississippi
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Patricia Thompson Lott
Children Chester Trent Lott, Jr.
Tyler Lott
Residence Pascagoula, Mississippi
Alma mater University of Mississippi

Chester Trent Lott, Sr. (Born on October 9, 1941), is a former United States Senator from Mississippi and has served in numerous leadership positions in the House of Representatives and the Senate. He entered Congress as one of the first of a wave of Republicans winning seats in Southern states that had been solidly Democratic for a century, rose to the position of Senate majority leader, then fell from power after praising Strom Thurmond's segregationist Dixiecrat presidential bid in 1948.

Lott entered Congress in 1968 as an administrative assistant to Representative William M. Colmer of Missisippi, who was also House Rules Committee Chairman. After Colmer retired, Lott won Colmer's former seat in the House of Representatives. In 1988, Lott ran for Senate to replace another retiree, Senator John Stennis, and won. After Republicans took the majority in the Senate, Lott became Senate Majority Whip in 1995 and then Senate Majority Leader in 1996.

On December 20, 2002, after significant controversy following racially charged comments regarding Strom Thurmond's presidential candidacy, Lott resigned as Senate Minority Leader. In December 2007, he resigned from the Senate and became a Washington-based lobbyist. Republican Roger Wicker won the 2008 special election to replace him.


Early life

Lott was born in Grenada, Mississippi. His father, Chester Paul Lott, was a shipyard worker; his mother, Iona Watson, was a schoolteacher. He attended college at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, where he obtained an undergraduate degree in public administration in 1963 and a law degree in 1967. He served as a Field Representative for Ole Miss and was president of his fraternity, Sigma Nu. Lott was also an Ole Miss cheerleader, coincidentally on the same team with U.S. Senator Thad Cochran. He married Patricia Thompson on December 27, 1964. The couple has two children: Chester Trent "Chet" Lott, Jr., and Tyler Lott.

Political career

House of Representatives

Lott was raised as a Democrat. He served as administrative assistant to House Rules Committee chairman William M. Colmer, also of Pascagoula, from 1968 to 1972.

In 1972, Colmer, one of the most conservative Democrats in the House, announced his retirement after 40 years in Congress. He endorsed Lott as his successor in Mississippi's 5th District, located in the state's southwestern tip, even though Lott ran as a Republican. Lott won handily.

Lott and his future Senate colleague, Thad Cochran (also elected to Congress that year), were only the second and third Republicans elected to Congress from Mississippi since Reconstruction. Lott's strong showing in the polls landed him on the powerful House Judiciary Committee as a freshman, where he voted against all three articles of impeachment drawn up against Richard Nixon during the committee's debate. After Nixon released the infamous "Smoking Gun" transcripts (which proved Nixon's involvement in the Watergate cover-up), however, Lott announced that he would vote to impeach Nixon when the articles came up for debate before the full House (as did the other Republicans who voted against impeachment in committee).

Sen. Trent Lott with Former Speaker of the House Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-GA) at the 2004 Republican National Convention; both Lott and Gingrich provided consistent support to President George W. Bush.

Three months later, in November 1974, Lott and Cochran became the first Republicans re-elected to Congress from Mississippi since Reconstruction, in both cases by blowout margins. Lott was re-elected six more times without much difficulty, and even ran unopposed in 1978. He served as House Minority Whip (the second-ranking Republican in the House) from 1981 to 1989; he was the first Southern Republican to hold such a high leadership position.

United States Senate

Lott ran for the Senate in 1988, after 42-year incumbent John Stennis announced he would not run for another term. He defeated Democratic 4th District Congressman Wayne Dowdy by almost eight points. He has never faced another contest nearly that close. He was re-elected in 1994, 2000, and 2006 with no substantive Democratic opposition. He gave some thought to retirement for much of 2005, however, after Hurricane Katrina, he announced on January 17, 2006 that he would run for a fourth term.

He became Senate Majority Whip when the Republicans took control of the Senate in 1995, succeeding as Majority Leader in 1996 when Bob Dole resigned from the Senate to focus on his presidential campaign. As majority leader, Lott had a major role in the Senate trial following the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. After the House narrowly voted to impeach Clinton, Lott proceeded with the Senate trial in early 1999, despite criticisms that Republicans were far short of the two-thirds majority required under the Constitution to convict Clinton and remove him from office. He later agreed to a decision to suspend the proceedings after the Senate voted not to convict Clinton.

In 1998, Lott caused some controversy in Congress when as a guest on the Armstrong Williams television show, he equated homosexuality to alcoholism, kleptomania and sex addiction. When Williams, a conservative talk show host, asked Lott whether homosexuality was a sin, Lott simply replied, "Yes, it is."[1] Lott's stance against homosexuality was disconcerting to some members of the public, who argued that his views were discriminatory.[2]

After the 2000 elections produced a 50-50 partisan split in the Senate, Vice President Al Gore's tie-breaking vote gave the Democrats the majority from January 3 to January 20, 2001, when George W. Bush took office and Vice President Dick Cheney's tie-breaking vote gave the Republicans the majority once again. Later in 2001, he became Senate Minority Leader again after Vermont senator Jim Jeffords became an independent and caucused with the Democrats, allowing them to regain the majority. He was due to become majority leader again in early 2003 after Republican gains in the November 2002 elections.

Resignation from Senate leadership

Political controversy ensued following remarks Lott made on December 5, 2002 at the 100th birthday party of Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina. Thurmond ran for President of the United States in 1948 on the Dixiecrat (or States' Rights) ticket. Lott said: "When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over the years, either."[3]

Thurmond had based his presidential campaign largely on an explicit racial segregation platform. Lott had attracted controversy before in issues relating to civil rights. As a Congressman, he voted against renewal of the Voting Rights Act, voted against the continuation of the Civil Rights Act and opposed making Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a federal holiday.[4] The Washington Post reported that Lott had made similar comments about Thurmond's candidacy in a 1980 rally.[5] Lott gave an interview with Black Entertainment Television explaining himself and repudiating Thurmond's former views.[6]

Lott resigned as Senate Republican Leader on December 20, 2002. Bill Frist of Tennessee was later elected to the leadership position. In the book Free Culture, Lawrence Lessig argues that Lott's resignation would not have occurred had it not been for the effect of Internet blogs. He says that though the story "disappear[ed] from the mainstream press within forty-eight hours", "bloggers kept researching the story" until, "[f]inally, the story broke back into the mainstream press." [7]

Lott in the early 2000s

Since he lost the Majority Leader post, Lott was less visible on the national scene while breaking with some standard conservative positions. He battled with Bush over military base closures in his home state. He showed support for passenger rail initiatives, notably his 2006 bipartisan introduction, with Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, of legislation to provide 80 percent federal matching grants to intercity rail and guarantee adequate funding for Amtrak.[8] On July 18, 2006, Lott voted with 19 Republican senators for the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act to lift restrictions on federal funding for the research. On November 15, 2006 Lott regained a leadership position in the Senate, when he was named Minority Whip after defeating Lamar Alexander of Tennessee 24-23.[9]

Senator John E. Sununu (R) of New Hampshire said, after Lott's election as Senate Minority Whip, "He understands the rules. He's a strong negotiator." Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R) said he's "the smartest legislative politician I've ever met."[10]

2006 re-election campaign

Lott faced no Republican opposition in the race. State representative Erik R. Fleming placed first of four candidates in the June Democratic primary, but did not receive the 50 percent of the vote required to earn the party's nomination. Fleming and second-place finisher Bill Bowlin faced off in a runoff on June 27, and Fleming won with 65% of the vote. Fleming, however, was not regarded as a serious opponent, and Lott handily defeated him with 64% of the vote.


On November 26, 2007, Lott announced that he would resign his Senate seat by the end of 2007.[11] According to CNN, his resignation was at least partly due to the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act, which forbids lawmakers from lobbying for two years after leaving office. Those who leave by the end of 2007 are covered by the previous law, which demands a wait of only one year.[12] In his resignation press conference, Lott said that the new law had no influence in his decision to resign.

Lott's resignation became effective at 11:30 p.m. on December 18, 2007.[13] On January 7, 2008 it was announced that Lott and former Senator John Breaux of Louisiana, a Democrat, opened their lobbying firm about a block from the White House.[14]

Current work

Lott now works at the Breaux Lott Leadership Group, a "strategic advice, consulting, and lobbying" firm.[15][16] He also serves on the board of directors of EADS North America.[15]

Lott is a 3rd Degree Freemason and holds the Grand Cross in The Southern Masonic Jurisdiction.

Richard Scruggs controversy

On November 29, 2007, The New York Times noted that Lott's brother-in-law, Richard Scruggs, was indicted on charges of offering a $40,000 bribe to a Mississippi state judge in a fee dispute. Scruggs represented Lott and Rep. Gene Taylor in settlements with State Farm Insurance company after the insurer refused to pay claims for the loss of their Mississippi homes in Hurricane Katrina. Lott and Taylor had pushed through federal legislation to investigate claims handling of State Farm and other insurers after Hurricane Katrina, a potential conflict of interest.[17][18] On July 30, 2008, the Associated Press reported that during a deposition related to the Hurricane Katrina claims, Zach Scruggs, son of Richard Scruggs, was asked by State Farm Fire & Casulty Cos. attorney Jim Robie, "Has it been your custom and habit in prosecuting litigation to have Senator Lott contact and encourage witnesses to give false information?" Zach Scruggs responded, "I invoke my Fifth Amendment rights in response to that question." [19] On February 14, 2009, The New York Times noted in relation to an indictment of Judge Bobby DeLaughter for taking bribes from Scruggs that federal prosecutors have said that Lott was induced by Scruggs to offer DeLaughter a federal judgeship in order to gain the judge's favor.[20]


Lott's memoir, entitled Herding Cats: A Life in Politics, was published in 2005. In the book, Lott spoke out on the infamous Strom Thurmond birthday party gaffe, former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, and about his feelings of betrayal toward the Tennessee senator, claiming "If Frist had not announced exactly when he did, as the fire was about to burn out, I would still be majority leader of the Senate today."[21] He also described former Democratic Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota as trustworthy.[22] He also reveals that President George W. Bush, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, and other GOP leaders played a major role in ending his career as Senate Republican Leader.[23]

Further reading

  • Lott, Trent. Herding Cats: A Life in Politics (Regan Books: 2005) ISBN 0-06-059931-6
  • Orey, Byron D'Andra. "Racial Threat, Republicanism, and the Rebel Flag: Trent Lott and the 2006 Mississippi Senate Race," National Political Science Review July 2009, Vol. 12, pp. 83–96


  1. ^ Mitchell, Alison (June 17, 1998). "Controversy Over Lott's Views of Homosexuals". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-02-01. 
  2. ^ Controversy Over Lott's Views of Homosexuals June 17, 1998, from The New York Times
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Transcript of Lott interview on BET, December 13, 2002
  7. ^ Lessig, Larry (2004). Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity. ISBN 1594200068. 
  8. ^ Holt, Tim (April 30, 2006). "Ranting about rail". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-02-01. 
  9. ^ Babington, Charles (November 16, 2006). "Lott Rejoins Senate Leadership". Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-12-21. 
  10. ^ Calabresi, Massimo (November 19, 2006). "The Revival of Trent Lott". Time Magazine.,9171,1561139,00.html. Retrieved 2007-03-25. 
  11. ^ Trent Lott announces his resignation
  12. ^ "Senate's No. 2 Republican to resign by end of year". November 26, 2007. Retrieved 2008-02-01. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ Radelat, Ana (January 8, 2008). "Lott joins heavy lawmaker-to-lobbyist trend". Clarion-Ledger. 
  15. ^ a b
  16. ^ Breaux Lott Leadership Group
  17. ^ Treaster, Joseph (November 29, 2007). "Lawyer Battling for Katrina Payments Is Indicted". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-02-01. 
  18. ^ Koppelman, Alex (November 29, 2007). "Tell us again why you're retiring, Senator". Retrieved 2008-02-01. 
  19. ^ Mohr, Holbrook (July 30, 2009). "Lawyer suggests Scruggs got witness help from Lott". Retrieved 2008-08-03. 
  20. ^
  21. ^ Lott, Herding Cats: A Life in Politics (2005), p. 273.
  22. ^ Lott, Herding Cats: A Life In Politics (2005), p. 211.
  23. ^ Lott, Herding Cats: A Life In Politics (2005), pp. 271–272.

External links


United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
William M. Colmer
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Mississippi's 5th congressional district

Succeeded by
Larkin I. Smith
United States Senate
Preceded by
John C. Stennis
United States Senator (Class 1) from Mississippi
Served alongside: Thad Cochran
Succeeded by
Roger Wicker
Political offices
Preceded by
Christopher Dodd
Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee
Succeeded by
Dianne Feinstein
Party political offices
Preceded by
Robert H. Michel
House Republican Whip
Succeeded by
Dick Cheney
Preceded by
Bob Kasten
Vice-Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference
Succeeded by
Connie Mack III
Preceded by
Alan K. Simpson
Senate Republican Whip
Succeeded by
Don Nickles
Preceded by
Bob Dole
Senate Republican Leader
June 12, 1996–December 20, 2002
Succeeded by
Bill Frist
Preceded by
Mitch McConnell
Senate Republican Whip
January 4, 2007–December 18, 2007
Succeeded by
Jon Kyl


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Trent Lott

Trent Lott (October 9, 1941 - ) is a U.S. Senator from Mississippi and a member of the Republican Party. He is the former Senate Majority Leader.


On the closure of the Senate to discuss intelligence leading up to the war in Iraq, on November 1, 2005:

  • "This is not the way it has been done. We would never surprise each other ... It's not to say that there's not important information that we could discuss or would be discussed in secret or closed session, but I'm astounded by this. I don't really know what the tenor of this is, what is the justification for it and why this extreme approach was used."
    • The Associated Press, November 1, 2005.

On Strom Thurmond:

  • "I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over the years, either."
    • From a speech at Thurmond's 100th birthday party (12/5/02)

On why he does not want to review more evidence during congressional hearings regarding the Abu Ghraib prison scandal:

  • "I've already seen enough. Why would I want to go see a bunch of perverted pictures?"

On Ronald Reagan:

  • "I am an advocate of having a gold dollar with Reagan's picture on it, and calling it the Ronnie. The Canadians have the Loonie, and we can have the Ronnie."
    • From an interview in New York Times Sunday Magazine (6/20/04)

On solar energy in a speech to the Independent Petroleum Association of America:

  • "I'm sure you petroleum folks understand that solar power will solve all our problems. How much money have we blown on that? This is the hippies' program from the seventies and they're still pushing this stuff."
    • As reported in the Washington Post (5/23/97)

On Harriet Miers as Supreme Court Justice:

"I want the President to look across the country and find the best man woman or minority that he can find"

On security versus liberty:

  • "I don't agree with the libertarians. I want my security first. I'll deal with all the details after that."
    • The Philadelphia Inquirer (12/17/05) [1]
    • c.f. Benjamin Franklin, "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

On Sunnis and Shia:

  • "Why do they kill people of other religions because of religion? Why do they hate the Israelis and despise their right to exist? Why do they hate each other? Why do Sunnis kill Shiites? How do they tell the difference? They all look the same to me."

On whether to hold a "vote of no confidence" in Attorney General Alberto Gonzales:

On filibustering:

  • "The filibuster of federal district and circuit judges cannot stand. ... It's bad for the institution. It's wrong. It's not supportable under the Constitution. And if they insist on persisting with these filibusters, I'm perfectly prepared to blow the place up. No problem."

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