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James Claude Wright, Jr. (born December 22, 1922), usually known as Jim Wright, is a former Democratic U.S.marker Congressman from Texasmarker who served 34 years in the U.S. House of Representatives and was the Speaker of the House from 1987 to 1989.

Early life

Wright was born in Fort Worth, Texasmarker. He attended Fort Worth and Dallasmarker public schools, eventually graduating from Oak Cliff High Schoolmarker, then studied at Weatherford College and the University of Texas at Austinmarker. In December 1941 he enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces, and after training was commissioned as a U.S. Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. as a bombardier in 1942. He earned a Distinguished Flying Cross flying combat with the 380th Bomb Group in the South Pacific during World War II. His retelling of his wartime exploits is contained in his 2005 book The Flying Circus: Pacific War — 1943 — As Seen through A Bombsight.

After the war, he made his home in Weatherford, Texasmarker, where he joined partners in forming a Trade Show exhibition and marketing firm. He also joined the Democratic Party. In 1946 he won his first election, to the Texas State House of Representatives, where he served from 1947 to 1949. He was Mayor of Weatherford from 1950 to 1954, serving as President of the League of Texas Municipalities in 1953.

Career in Congress

In 1954, he was elected to Congress from Texas's 12th congressional district, which included Weatherford and was based in Fort Worth. He would be re-elected fourteen times, gradually rising in prominence in the party and in Congress. In 1956 he refused to sign the Southern Manifesto.

He was elected House Majority Leader by one vote in December 1976, serving there until 1987, when he was elected the Speaker of the House. In 1988, he chaired the party's convention that nominated Michael Dukakis for president. During that convention, he introduced John F. Kennedy, Jr, for Kennedy's first televised speech.

In the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, Jim Wright is known for the Wright Amendment, a contentious law he sponsored that restricted air travel out of Dallas's secondary airport, Love Fieldmarker.

Ethics investigation and resignation

Wright became the target of an inquiry by the House Ethics Committee. Their report in early 1989 implied that he had used bulk purchases of his book, Reflections of a Public Man, to earn speaking fees in excess of the allowed maximum, and that his wife, Betty, was given a job and perks to avoid the limit on gifts. Faced with an increasing loss of effectiveness, he resigned as Speaker on May 31, 1989, effective upon the selection of a successor. On June 6, the Democratic caucus brought his Speakership to an end by selecting his replacement, Tom Foley, and on June 30 he resigned from his seat in Congress.

The incident itself was controversial and was a part of the increasing partisan infighting that has plagued the Congress ever since. The original charges were filed by Newt Gingrich in 1988 and their effect propelled Gingrich's own career advancement to the Speaker's chair itself. Seven years later, Gingrich would himself face 84 charges of ethics violations, 83 of which were dropped.

Critics of the national security state attributed Wright's forced resignation to the critical questions he was raising in the late 1980s with regard to CIA covert actions in Nicaraguamarker.

After his resignation from the House, Wright retired from public service to Fort Worth, Texasmarker. He serves as a professor at Texas Christian Universitymarker, teaching a course titled "Congress and the Presidents".


External links

Further reading

  • Barry, John. The Ambition and the Power: The Fall of Jim Wright: A True Story of Washington. New York : Viking Press, 1989. ISBN 0-8317-8302-8. (Paperback: Penguin, 1992. ISBN 0-14-010488-7)
  • Wright, Jim. Balance of Power: Presidents and Congress from the Era of McCarthy to the Age of Gingrich. Turner Publications, 1996. ISBN 1-57036-278-5.
  • Wright, Jim. Reflections of a Public Man. Fort Worth, TX : Madison Publishing Company, 1984.
  • Wright, Jim. The Flying Circus: Pacific War — 1943 — As Seen Through A Bombsight. Guilford, CT: The Lyons Press, 2005. ISBN 1-59228-656-9.
  • Wright, Jim. The Coming Water Famine. New York: Coward-McCann, 1966.

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