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James Adelbert "Jim" McDermott (born December 28, 1936) is the current U.S. Representative for Washington's 7th Congressional District. The 7th District includes most of Seattlemarker and Vashon Islandmarker, and portions of Shorelinemarker, Lake Forest Parkmarker, Tukwilamarker, SeaTacmarker, and Burienmarker.

McDermott is a member of the Democratic Party. He serves on the House Ways and Means Committee and is a member of the House Progressive Caucus. He has consistently received strong support from his district, taking 84% of the popular vote in 2008, easily winning against Republican challenger Steve Beren.

Early life, education and family

McDermott was born in Chicago, Illinoismarker. He was the first member of his family to attend college; he graduated from Wheaton College, Illinois, and then went to medical school, getting an M.D. from the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago in 1963. After completing an internship from 1963 to 1964 at Buffalo General Hospital in Buffalo, New York, a two-year psychiatry residency at the University of Illinois Research and Educational Hospital (now called University of Illinois Hospital), and fellowship training in child psychiatry from 1966 to 1968 at the University of Washingtonmarker Medical Center in Seattle, he served in the United States Navy Medical Corps as a psychiatrist in California during the Vietnam War. He is married to Therese Hansen, an attorney, and has two grown children.

Political career

In 1970, McDermott made his first run for public office and was elected to the state legislature as a representative from the 43rd District. In 1974, he ran for the state senate, and subsequently was re-elected three times, to successive four-year terms. In 1980, while still a state senator, McDermott defeated incumbent Dixy Lee Ray in the Democratic primary for Governor of Washington, but lost the general election to Republican John Spellman.

In 1987, McDermott left politics to become a Foreign Service medical officer based in Zairemarker, providing psychiatric services to Foreign Service, USAID, and Peace Corps personnel in sub-Saharan Africa. In 1988, when the 7th Congressional District seat became open, he returned from Africa to run for the seat. In 2008, he was elected to the 111th Congress.

On August 22, 2007, McDermott was knighted by King Letsie III of Lesothomarker. This knighthood was given in recognition of McDermott's leadership on the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which helped improve Lesotho's economy.[48682]

Committee assignments

Ethics violation for leaking recorded telephone conversation

In December 2004, Rep. McDermott came under investigation by the House Ethics Committee when they had to determine whether he violated standards of conduct for leaking an illegally recorded telephone conversation during a committee investigation in 1997. At that time, the committee was investigating the conduct of then-Speaker Newt Gingrich.

The illegal recording was made by a Floridamarker couple, John and Alice Martin, who overheard a conversation between Rep. Gingrich and top Republicans on their police scanner inside their car. After listening to the conversation for several minutes they decided to record it, at first for posterity's sake and after listening further decided that it might be important for the Ethics Committee to hear. It was at that time that they delivered the tape to McDermott, the senior Democrat on the committee at that time, and who was in town for a swearing-in ceremony. (No action was taken by the Ethics Committee against Gingrich, Boehner or other participants in the recorded conversation.)

Shortly afterward, McDermott leaked the tape to several media outlets, including the New York Times. Rep. John Boehner, who was part of the Gingrich conversation, sued McDermott for illegally leaking the tape; U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan concluded that McDermott was behind the leak and ordered him to pay Boehner for "willful and knowing misconduct" that "rises to the level of malice".

McDermott challenged that ruling in a federal appeals court, arguing that since he was not the one involved in the recording, "his actions were allowed under the First Amendment, and said a ruling against him would have 'a huge chilling effect' on reporters and newsmakers alike. Lawyers for 18 news organizations — including ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, The Associated Press, the New York Times and the Washington Post — filed a brief backing McDermott. But on March 29, 2006, the court ruled 2-1 that McDermott violated federal law when he turned over the illegally recorded tape to the New York Times and other media outlets. The court then ordered McDermott to pay for Boehner's legal costs (over $600,000) as well as $60,000 in damages.

On June 26, 2006, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated the earlier judgment, and decided to re-hear the case with all nine judges in September. However, that decision also went against McDermott.

On December 11, 2006, a report released by the House Ethics committee concluded that McDermott "violated ethics rules by giving reporters access to an illegally taped telephone call involving Republican leaders a decade ago." The report stated, "Rep. McDermott's secretive disclosures to the news media ... risked undermining the ethics process regarding" former Speaker Gingrich. It said McDermott's actions "were not consistent with the spirit of the committee."

On July 6, 2007, McDermott announced he would ask the Supreme Court to review the appeals court decision in favor of Boehner.On December 3, 2007, the Supreme Court declined his request for review, so the decision of the appeals court stands.

On March 31, 2008, Chief Judge Thomas Hogan of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ordered McDermott to pay $1.05 million to Boehner, covering attorney's fees, costs and interest. McDermott also has had to pay over $60,000 in fines and close to $600,000 to his own lawyers. McDermott said he would not appeal further.

Visit to Iraq in 2002

On March 26, 2008, an indictment unsealed in Detroit accused Muthanna Al-Hanooti, a member of a Michiganmarker nonprofit group, of arranging for McDermott, Rep. David Bonior of Michiganmarker and Mike Thompson of Californiamarker to take a trip to Iraqmarker in 2002, a few months before the U.S. invasion, paid for by Saddam Hussein's intelligence agency.

McDermott received sharp criticism from conservatives for his visit, and then afterwards when he began his prediction that President George W. Bush would "mislead the American public" to justify military action. During the run up to the Iraq war, McDermott insisted that no WMD would be found in Iraq.

After this visit to Iraq,McDermott received a $5,000 contribution to an unrelated legal defense fund from Shakir al Khafaji, an Iraqi-American businessman with alleged ties to the Oil for Food scandal. McDermott returned the contribution in 2004 after it was questioned in the media. Aides asserted that McDermott had no prior knowledge of Khafaji's alleged connections to Iraqi oil money.

It was from this series of events that McDermott earned the nickname "Baghdadmarker Jim" , often used by his opponents to call attention to his controversial Iraq visit. His supporters point out that he correctly predicted that no WMD would be found in Iraq..

Pledge of Allegiance

On April 28th, 2004, Congressman McDermott omitted the phrase "under God" while leading the House in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. The incident occurred after atheist Michael Newdow lost his court case to have the phrase "under God" dropped from the Pledge, and after McDermott had voted against a congressional resolution that called for a court ruling that declared the phrase unconstitutional to be overturned. McDermott later stated that he had "reverted to the pledge as it was written and taught in the public schools throughout my childhood", as the phrase "under God" was added in 1954, when McDermott was 18.

Internet gambling tax

On June 7, 2007, McDermott conceded that attempts to ban internet gambling had been "ineffective". He proposed instead to "subject the revenue to taxation", and introduced a tax on online gambling, labeled Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act (IGRTEA). On January 31, 2008, McDermott stated that the tax could generate "$8 billion to $42 billion in revenue in its first 10 years".

See also


  2. Sheehan offers refuge to war deserters
  3. Retrieved 2007-03-25.
  4. Retrieved 2007-03-25.
  5. Congressman Jim McDermott - News - Rep. McDermott Knighted by King in Lesotho, South Africa
  6. AllPolitics - The Tale Of The Tape - Jan. 13, 1997
  7. The Seattle Times: Politics: Appeals Court rules against McDermott in taped call dispute
  8. Court to Hear Arguments in Taped Call Case
  9. Justices steer clear of lawmakers' feud -
  10. Panel: Leaked Gingrich Call Broke Rules
  11. The Crypt's Blog -
  12. "Lawmaker Must Pay $1 Million in Legal Fees", Associated Press (International Herald Tribune), April 2, 2008.
  13. Retrieved 2008-03-26
  14. Robert L. Jamieson, Jr., 'Baghdad Jim' was dead on about war, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 16, 2003. Accessed online 10 March 2008.
  15. [1]
  16. McDermott sponsors Internet gambling tax legislation, Associated Press / Seattle Times, January 31, 2008. Accessed online 10 March 2008.

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