A Complex Profile Of A Congressman Essay

, Research Paper When you think of psycho-conservatives and tenacious Republican partisanship, names like Newt Gingrich and Henry Hyde come to mind but the name Dan Burton should definitely be on top of that list. Dan Burton, the Republican chair of the Government Reform committee and the representative of District #6 of Indiana has the reputation of a pit-bull in Congress.

, Research Paper

When you think of psycho-conservatives and tenacious Republican partisanship, names like Newt Gingrich and Henry Hyde come to mind but the name Dan Burton should definitely be on top of that list. Dan Burton, the Republican chair of the Government Reform committee and the representative of District #6 of Indiana has the reputation of a pit-bull in Congress. Burton was the House Republicans point man in the 1997 investigation of political fundraising that focuses on money brought in by President Clinton s re-election campaign. This task gave him yet another crack at exposing misdeeds of the Clinton presidency in which he has already accused of ethics lapses. Many Democrats fear Dan Burton s attack-dog style because they know that he will not rest until he has uncovered the truth. In fact, Burton spent the first four years of the Clinton administration attacking the Democratic president with more tenacity than the most partisan of his GOP colleagues. He infuriated Democrats and shocked a large number of Republicans with his July 1994 floor speech when he questioned White House Deputy Council Vincent W. Foster s apparent suicide. The speach which proposed that he was murdered for the sake of a cover-up was one of the highlights of Burton s career in the House minority. Burton contended that the body was moved, there were hairs on his shirt that did not belong to him when he was found dead, and that there were carpet and other wool fibers found on his body. Another time that Burton made the news was last year when he called Clinton a scumbag in public .

This guy hates Clinton and he doesn t hide his desire to get rid of him at all! The Republicans entrusted him with unprecedented powers to subpoena Democrats, and access to as much as $15 million for a witch-hunt style investigation. Burton declared that the White House is actually behind all the leeks that seem damaging to the White House.

In truth, there is nobody more persistent and diligent that Dan Burton. It seems that if you look through Burton s files for the 105th Congress everyday he made another move! His main focus was to get Clinton through Attorney General Janet Reno. He wrote her a myriad of letters telling her to have an independent council set up to investigate the President s actions (sound like Henry Hyde?). When she delayed, he wrote her more and more letters, some filled with accusations that she potentially misleading Congress and the American people for the sake of protecting the president. He also publicly accused her of breaking the law to protect the President. When an independent council was set up only to investigate only certain White House phone calls, Burton wasn t yet satisfied and didn t even think of releasing the pressure. He said Nothing short of an independent council for this whole investigation will suffice! He filed a report that revealed the failure of Democratic entities to return roughly 1.8$ million in illegal and suspect contributions from 1992-1996 in addition to a separate allegation of the taking of more than $1.7 million in illegal contributions. Even after that Chairman Burton said This is an interim report, our investigation will continue .

It is not even necessary to mention that Burton votes extremely conservatively and did so in the many votes concerning Clinton s impeachment. He voted YEA on the release of the Starr Report, on the initiation of impeachment Inquiry, whether to actually vote on impeachment, and on all 4 Articles of Impeachment votes (in short; perjury, obstruction of justice, the misuse of his power and abuse of his office). (In other words, when the we learned that the entire impeachment proceedings were only continuing because of a group of stubborn Republicans trying to get Clinton, we were talking about Burton)!

His key votes in the last few years include a YEA to banning partial birth abortions, approving the farm bill, denying public education to illegal immigrants, repealing the ban on certain assault-style weapons, approving a balanced-budget constitutional amendment, relaxing the Clean Water Act regulations, reducing projected Medicare spending, approving of GOP budget with tax and spending cuts and a NEA to increasing minimum wage, freezing defense spending, opposing limits on environmental regulations. As is blatantly obvious, you can t vote more Republicanly than that!

When the 106th Congress began recently, it was Burton s task to appoint subcommittee chairmen of his newly-renamed House committee on Government Reform. He appointed Rep. Joe Scarborough to chair the subcommittee on House Civil Service, Rep. Dan Miller, to chair the subcommittee on the census, Rep. Christopher Shays to head the subcommittee on National Security, Veterans affairs, and International Relations, and Rep. John L. Mica to be the chairmen of the subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources. Every single one of these chairmen were heavy duty conservative Republicans.

In January 1997, Burton voted against the reprimanding and $300, 000 penalty the House Ethics Committee recommended for his fellow soldier Speaker Newt Gingrich for violating House rules. In fact, in response to the Democratic-filed charges, Burton decided to strike back and he introduced a resolution to penalize law-makers who submit frivolous allegations to the Ethics Committee (H.RES.79). (One of the Democrats favorite pastimes).

According to the Clerk of the House of Representatives, Congressman Burton had a 92.7% voting attendance record in the 105th Congress. His career voting percentage from 1983-1993 is 96.3 percent, one of the highest in the House. (He also has received special recognition and various awards from several organizations for his voting records in Congress(which I will list later).

Dan Burton was born on June 21st, 1938 in Indianapolis, Indiana and grew up like a good Christian (Protestant) boy. He attended Shortridge High School, Cincinnati Bible Seminary, Olivet Nazarene College for two years (majored in biblical literature) and then went on to Indiana University. He served in the U.S. Army 1956-1957, and in the U.S. Army Reserves 1957-1962. Because of his impressive political history it might seem that he is a professional politician, but he is not. In fact, his means of employment for many years was as an insurance and real estate agent(like a large amount of people in his district). He married Barbara Logan and has a family of 5 whom all still live in Indianapolis. Burton felt that he could make a difference if he became a part of Indiana s politics and that he would well represent his constituents and that they would like him and support him. That is exactly the truth today as he is a Sr. ranking member of the U.S. House of Representatives, now in his 9th term. Burton first became a member of Indiana s State House 1967-1969, 1977-1981 and was a member of Indiana s State Senate 1969-1971, 1981-1983. Then in 1982, Burton, a long time state legislator, settled an old intraparty score by winning the 1982 GOP primary in the 6th District. He then won the seat in the House and has held that position until today. He serves on the International Relations Committee and on the Government Reform Committee in which he became chair in the 105th Congress.

Burton is serving as Congressman of Indiana s Six District. The Sixth District lies in Central Indiana. It includes all of Clinton, Tipton, Hamilton, and Hancock Counties, and parts of Marion, Henry, Boone, Johnson, and Morgan Counties. Much of IN-6 is farms and undeveloped tracts but there definitely is an industrial presence. Many of the constituents live a life of more modest means but there is a working class and some suburban wealth. In fact, IN-6 is the home of the famous Indianapolis-500 Auto race. Much of the constituency is agriculturally based but there are many vibrant industries. There is a growing insurance industry, telephone utilities, air transport, real estate, a textile industry, constructive services, a pharmaceutical and health product industry, and dairy distributors. The district also has its share of doctors, lawyers and big banks. In addition, Frito Lay, UPS, AT&T, Bell Atlantic, and Sprint have branches out there. The people who live there are mainly conservative Christians and religious church-goers. The population is about 554, 500 people, and about 542,000 of them white(98%). About 6,000 of the constituents are black(1%), and about 7,000 are of other ethnicity(1%) and that s it for the entire minority group constituency in the entire district. Almost 75% of the people are over 18 and about 15% of the people are 62 and over. The median age is 34. The people in the areas that make up the 6th District have had been Republican since their beginning. The wealthy and the near-wealthy who have moved there are nearly as conservative as the farmers who live nearby. Republican vote totals are consistently high there. In 1996, Bob Dole won the overall district with 63%, his best showing in the state. Burton grabbed 75% of the vote that year, the highest of any House candidate in Indiana that year. (He won 72% in 92 , 63% in 90 , 73% in 88 , 68% in 86 , 73% in 84 , and 65% in 82 ).

Redistricting made the 6th solid Republican terrain in 1982 and helped put Burton in office. After the 1990 census, the district was made even more Republican, further solidifying Burton s hold. So it is obvious why conservative Burton wins by so much, because it is not only the most Republican district in Indiana, but one of the most GOP-oriented House districts in the nation. Continuing with the pattern, Burton has no trouble financing his campaign and fundraising because everybody loves him out there.

In the 1998 election, Burton raised $882,841 and didn t even spend all of it($879, 715). His funds were raised from both individuals and businesses. He was also given funds by PACs and lobbyists that represented Burton s positions on certain issues. A lot of money came from PACs (because PACs usually put most of their dollars behind incumbents). Some of the organizations that gave Burton money were, the Federal Express Corp., the National Rifle Association, AT&T, the Indiana Farm Bureau, Sprint corp., Bell Atlantic, the National Auto Dealers Association, and the Independent Insurance Agents of America.

In addition to attacking Democrats and vowing to shed the light of day on illegal campaign fundraising practices, Burton is involved in the businesses of his two committees, the committee of Government Reform which he is the chair and the committee on International Relations. The international Relations Committee mainly deals with international operations and human rights in connection with the Western Hemisphere. Examples of the recent business of the International Relations Committee are relations between the U.S. and Taiwan, African growth and its impact, the President & Mexico, the Foreign Policy Reform Act, Radio Free Asia Act of 1997, the Political Freedom in China Act of 1997, Iran and the C-802 cruise missiles, Japanese- American relations, narcotics and Columbia, Security and Freedom through Encryption(safe) Act, and the prohibition of U.S. funds to China.

Burton s recent projects have been the bill(H.R.1802: A bill to suspend United States development assistance for India unless the president certifies to Congress that the Government of India has taken certain steps to prevent human rights abuses in India) and amendment(H.AMDT.317: An amendment, to cut development assistance to India by $14.5 million to $41.8 million) that he sponsored concerning relations with India. He also co-authored legislation strengthening the U.S. economic embargo of Cuba.

Burton s other committee, the committee on Government Reform had its name changed from the Government Reform and Oversight Committee as not to confuse it with the committee on House Oversight. The change, however, does not indicate a change in the work of the committee. Oversight of the executive branch of government will still remain a function of the committee and a major portion of its responsibilities. Some of the things the committee deals with are waste prevention and illegal tactics by members of the U.S. Government (such as illegal campaign finance tactics). For example, the chairman announced for the first meeting of the year that the committee would focus on billions of dollars in waste and fraud in federal programs. He also announced that he plans to attack and better the serious management weakness across the Federal Government. (Estimated taxpayer costs from these failures in the federal bureaucracy are in the billions of dollars. Especially the Medicare fee-for-service program and the food stamp program which lose more than $20 billion annually to fraud and error).

Burton s committees aren t 100% connected to his constituents in Indiana but whose are?(Do the members of the House Judiciary Committee or the Ethics Committee really directly affect their constituents?). He does help his constituents a lot by his work for the good of the country and they do benefit for all the tax-money that he saves the citizens of the U.S.. In addition, Burton recently announced that his committee will take up several bills to reduce the paperwork burden on small business, which will help the many small businesses in IN-6. He also votes for other things outside of his committees like voting YEA on the Farm Bill which would help many of his constituents which are farmers. He also has sponsored bills which are now laws that are specifically for Indiana s benefit( for example H.R. 1057 and H.R.1058 which are bills concerning the operation of Indiana s post offices).

Representative Dan Burton is a great politician simply because he represents the views of his constituents and he is very diligent in getting things done. He has served many different terms in many different offices and is never really challenged in any election because the voters know that he has the experience as a Sr. ranking member of the House and as the chair of an important committee in it. People also know that he is well respected, and that he ll never quit until he succeeds. It is very seldom that Congressmen these days feel an obligation to their constituents, as they vote however they want, when they actually show up to vote. Burton votes for a state in which he spent all his life in and which his wife and children still live in. He is not like many other politicians who are Congressmen just for the money and the fame. As I mentioned before, According to the Clerk of the House of Representatives, Congressman Burton had a 92.7 percent voting attendance record in the 105th Congress. His career voting percentage from 1983-1993 is 96.3 percent, one of the highest in the House. He also has received special recognition from several organizations for his voting record in Congress. His honors include, 11 Golden Bulldog Awards from the Watchdogs of Treasury for voting to cut wasteful Federal spending and reduce taxes, 10 Taxpayers Friends Awards from the National Taxpayers Union for fiscal responsibility, 6 Guardian of Small Business Awards from the National Federation of Independent Business for supporting small business, 10 National Security Leadership Awards for supporting a policy of peace through strength, and 13 Spirit of Enterprise Awards from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for voting in support of free enterprise and a strong economy. In addition, his ability to write and get legislation passed is incredible. He sponsored, wrote and introduced so many important bills, amendments, and resolutions that the twenty or so that I have discussed are only a fraction of the ones that were his in the last 2 or 3 years.

He is a great politician because he is so sedulous and persistent. That is why the Republicans appointed him as their top man in the campaign finance investigations and gave him so much power. He was one of the first Republicans to brake the silence on this scandal and attack the president and despite numerous obstacles and a bumpy ride with Janet Reno, Burton, uncovered a substantial amount of illegal contributions on the part of the Democratic party. People fear Dan Burton because they know he will reveal the truth!

Despite Burton s past success, I believe he has reached the summit of his political career and will now begin to fall. With Gingrich, Hyde, and Helen Chenoweth all gone I think the age of ultra-Conservatives is coming to an abrupt end. Especially as many of the freshmen Congressmen come in and vote centristly and seek to compromise and establish by-partisan legislature. Despite all his efforts, Clinton is still in office and many believe that the GOP suffered the most of everyone as a result of the long drawn-out impeachment proceedings of President Clinton. In addition, many say that Burton is chairing a partisan investigation of the campaign finance issue seeking only to investigate Democratic violations while willfully ignoring any similar behavior within his own party.

The Hill reported that Burton has received illegal campaign contributions directly from at least two Sikh temples . According to the Hill, a Washington-based organization started by militant Sikhs has funneled at least $65,000 in contributions to the Republican party and several congressional candidates including Dan Burton . This news comes only a few weeks after another report that Burton told a lobbyist for Pakistan, Mark Siegel, that if he didn t make a $5,000 contribution to him, he would be cut off. (Siegel testified in front of a Federal Grand Jury on the matter). It seems that each day reveals more about Burton s own sleazy finance dealings. He also accepted an invitation from AT&T, who had business before another of his committees, to play golf in its Pro-Am Tournament and accepted $2,000 from the company s PAC. Burton also had to return money to an ex- Zairian president Mobutu s lobbyist because he exceeded the limit on how much money he could take from him. Yet Republicans have repeatedly refused to look into allegations of wrongdoing by anyone in their own party. Even though the Republicans continue to look away from Burton s surreptitious actions eventually it will get so obvious that they will be forced to look into it and……

All these facts were well known to Newt Gingrich and he sent Reps. Rob Portman and Christopher Cox to sit on Burton s committee to make sure that he doesn t destroy the credibility of the committee and of the party(and you re in big trouble if Newt Gingrich is worried about you destroying the credibility of anything)! On top of all of this commotion, it has been revealed that Burton had an affair with a woman in the 1980 s and fathered an illegitimate child! It is almost impossible for Burton to continue with his attack-dog, witch-hunt attack tactics if he is guilty of every single one of the accusations himself. His term comes to an end in 2000 but it is my prediction that he will not be able to be as productive on the account of his hypocrisy and just might pull off a Bob Livingston !