|Member of the |
U.S. House of Representatives
January 3, 1973 – January 3, 2013
|Preceded by||George P. Miller|
|Succeeded by||Eric Swalwell (Redistricting)|
|Constituency||8th district (1973–1975)|
9th district (1975–1993)
13th district (1993–2013)
Fortney Hillman Stark Jr.
November 11, 1931
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
|Died||January 24, 2020 (aged 88)|
Harwood, Maryland, U.S.
(m. 1955, divorced)
(m. 1989; div. 1991)
|Alma mater||Massachusetts Institute of Technology (BS)|
University of California, Berkeley (MBA)
|Branch/service||United States Air Force|
|Years of service||1955–1957|
Fortney Hillman Stark Jr. (November 11, 1931 – January 24, 2020), known as Pete Stark, was an American businessman and politician who was a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1973 to 2013. A Democrat from California, Stark's district—California's 13th congressional district during his last two decades in Congress—was in southwestern Alameda County and included Alameda, Union City, Hayward, Newark, San Leandro, San Lorenzo, and Fremont (his residence during the early part of his tenure), as well as parts of Oakland and Pleasanton. At the time he left office in 2013, he was the fifth most senior Representative, as well as sixth most senior member of Congress overall. He was also the dean of California's 53-member Congressional delegation, and the only openly atheist member of Congress.
After 2010 redistricting, Stark's district was renumbered as the 15th district for the 2012 election. He narrowly finished first in the primary ahead of fellow Democrat Eric Swalwell, but lost to Swalwell in the general election. He was the second-longest serving U.S. Congressman, after Jack Brooks (D-Texas, 1994), to lose a general election.
Early life, education, and banking career
Stark was born on November 11, 1931, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the son of Dorothy M. (née Mueller) and Fortney Hillman Stark. He was of German and Swiss descent. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in general engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1953. He served in the United States Air Force from 1955 to 1957. After leaving the Air Force, Stark attended the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, and received his MBA in 1960. Stark bought a home in Anne Arundel County, Maryland in 1988, and spent most of his time there in the latter part of his congressional tenure. However, he continued to claim a house in Fremont as his official residence, and visited his Bay Area district twice a month. Following his retirement from public office, he remained in Maryland.
Stark grew up as a Republican, but his opposition to the Vietnam War led him to switch parties in the mid-1960s. He printed checks with peace signs on them and placed a giant peace sign on the roof of his bank's headquarters. In 1971, Stark was elected to the Common Cause National Governing Board.
U.S. House of Representatives
In 1972, Stark ran in the Democratic primary against 14-term incumbent U.S. Representative George Paul Miller of Alameda in what was then the 8th district. Stark, then 41 years old, claimed that the octogenarian Miller had been in Congress too long. He stated, "Miller entered the House in 1945 ... 28 years ago." He won the Democratic primary with 56% of the vote, a 34-point margin. In the 1972 general election, he defeated Republican Lew Warden with 53% of the vote. He did not face another contest nearly that close until 2012, and was re-elected 18 times.
Stark was unopposed for the Democratic nomination in the 2008 election and was re-elected in the general election with 76.3% of the vote. He faced his first Democratic challenger in 2010, and the challenger showed weakening support for Stark, gathering 16% of the primary votes without any endorsements.
In the 2012 elections, Stark's district was renumbered as the 15th District. Because of California's new nonpartisan blanket primary, which allows the general election to be contested by the two highest vote-getters in the primary, regardless of party affiliation, his opponent in the general election was Dublin city councilman Eric Swalwell, a fellow Democrat almost 50 years his junior; Swalwell was born shortly after Stark's re-election to his fifth term in Congress in the 1980 election. During the campaign, the Stark campaign circulated a flyer accusing Swalwell of being a Tea Party candidate—an accusation knocked down by both Swalwell and the San Jose Mercury News. In the general election, Swalwell narrowly defeated Stark by just under 10,000 votes.
At 40 years (as of the end of service on January 3, 2013), Stark had been the longest-serving member of Congress from California, serving continuously from January 3, 1973 through January 3, 2013. The Hayward Area Historical Society will be the repository of Stark's papers from his tenure.
Stark voted against both readings of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, which gave $700 billion to troubled investment banks in the midst of the 2008 financial crisis. Stark strongly criticized the bank bailout legislation, argued that it would "only help reckless speculators" and criticized the legislation as "corporate welfare" and a "Wall Street give-away."
Stark supported a 0.005% financial transaction tax applying to "trades of stocks, bonds, foreign exchange, futures and options involving large-scale traders who make more than $10,000 in transactions" annually. In 2010 introduced a bill, the Investing in Our Future Act, that would create such a tax. The bill proposed using the revenue raised to invest in climate change adaptation, child care programs, and a Global Health Trust Fund to combat diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis.
Stark had a longstanding interest in health care issues and was critical of the fate of uninsured Americans under the George W. Bush administration. With John Conyers, in April 2006, Stark brought an action against President Bush and others alleging violations of the Constitution in the passing of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, which cut Medicaid payments. The case, Conyers v. Bush, was ultimately dismissed for lack of standing in November of the same year.
In 1985 Stark became Chairman of the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee with jurisdiction over Medicare and national health insurance proposals. Over the years, he used Budget Reconciliation bills to add amendments to impact health care. An amendment to the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) required many employers to offer continuation health insurance coverage in many different situations (divorce, separation from employment, etc.) Over the years, tens of millions of Americans have used this COBRA law to continue health coverage. In 1986, he led in amending that year's budget bill to include the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, which requires hospitals to treat and stabilize persons presenting at emergency rooms with emergency conditions or in active labor, regardless of the person's insurance status or ability to pay. In 1988, Stark introduced an "Ethics in Patient Referrals Act" bill concerning physician self-referrals. Some of the ideas in the bill became law as part of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990. In specific, what is referred to as "Stark I" prohibited a physician referring a Medicare patient to a clinical laboratory if the physician or his/her family member has a financial interest in that laboratory. It was codified in the United States Code, Title 42, Section 1395nn (42 U.S.C. 1395nn, "Limitation on certain physician referrals").
The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 contained what is known as "Stark II" amendments to the original law. "Stark II" extended the "Stark I" provisions to Medicaid patients and to DHS other than clinical laboratory services.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has issued rules in the Federal Register to implement Stark Law, including a 2001 "Phase I" final rule, a 2004 "Phase II" interim final rule, and a 2007 "Phase III" final rule.
Over the years, Stark worked with others (notably his Republican counterpart, Bill Gradison (Ohio), and Representatives Henry Waxman, George Miller, and Senator Ted Kennedy) to advance health improvement ideas. Stark led in introducing bills to allow more people to buy into Medicare at an earlier age, to expand Medicare by allowing all infants to enroll in Medicare, and to provide a prescription drug benefit in Medicare. In his work on the Clinton health insurance proposals of 1993, Stark developed, and continued to promote the basic ideas now seen in the Affordable Care Act and in various Medicare for Americans ideas: all Americans should have good, basic health insurance; if they don't have such coverage, they should buy it, and if they can't afford it, they should get help to make it affordable. The ideas he advanced are at the core of the on-going health debate in America.
Well then, who will pay? School kids will pay. There'll be no money to keep them from being left behind—way behind. Seniors will pay. They'll pay big time as the Republicans privatize Social Security and rob the Trust Fund to pay for the capricious war. Medicare will be curtailed and drugs will be more unaffordable. And there won't be any money for a drug benefit because Bush will spend it all on the war. Working folks will pay through loss of job security and bargaining rights. Our grandchildren will pay through the degradation of our air and water quality. And the entire nation will pay as Bush continues to destroy civil rights, women's rights and religious freedom in a rush to phony patriotism and to courting the messianic Pharisees of the religious right.
In January 2003 Stark supported a reinstatement of the draft, partly in protest against the call to war but also saying, "If we're going to have these escapades, we should not do it on the backs of poor people and minorities." In October 2004, he was one of only two members of Congress to vote in favor of the Universal National Service Act of 2003 (HR 163), a bill proposing resumption of the military draft.
He did not vote for any bills to continue funding the Iraq war, but voted 'present' for some. In a statement posted on his website he explained, "Despite my utmost respect for my colleagues who crafted this bill, I can't in good conscience vote to continue this war. Nor, however, can I vote 'No' and join those who think today's legislation goes too far toward withdrawal. That's why I'm making the difficult decision to vote 'present'."
"[I am] a Unitarian who does not believe in a Supreme Being. I look forward to working with the Secular Coalition to stop the promotion of narrow religious beliefs in science, marriage contracts, the military and the provision of social service."
Statement from Stark, January 2007
Stark was the first openly atheist member of Congress, as announced by the Secular Coalition for America. Stark acknowledged that he was an atheist in response to an SCA questionnaire sent to public officials in January 2007.
On September 20, 2007, Stark reaffirmed that he was an atheist by making a public announcement in front of the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard, the Harvard Law School Heathen Society, and various other atheist, agnostic, secular, humanist, and nonreligious groups. The American Humanist Association named him their 2008 Humanist of the Year, and he served on the AHA Advisory Board. On February 9, 2011, Stark introduced a bill to Congress designating February 12, 2011 as Darwin Day; this was a collaboration between Stark and the American Humanist Association. The resolution states, "Charles Darwin is a worthy symbol of scientific advancement ... and around which to build a global celebration of science and humanity."
In 2011, he and eight other lawmakers voted to reject the existing national motto, “In God We Trust." The next year, Eric Swalwell, while challenging him in a Democratic primary campaign, criticized him for this vote.
- Committee on Ways and Means
- Subcommittee on Health (Ranking Member)
- Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support
- Congressional Progressive Caucus
- Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (Associate Member)
- International Conservation Caucus
Republicans sure don't care about funding $200 billion to fight the illegal war in Iraq. Where are you going to get that money? Are you going to tell us lies like you're telling us today? Is that how you're going to fund the war? You don't have money to fund the war or children. But you're going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the President's amusement.
Following the initial criticism to his statements, when asked by a radio station if he would take back any of his statements, Stark responded "Absolutely not. I may have dishonored the Commander-in-Chief, but I think he's done pretty well to dishonor himself without any help from me." The same day, his office also issued a press release, saying in part:
I have nothing but respect for our brave men and women in uniform and wish them the very best. But I respect neither the Commander-in-Chief who keeps them in harms [sic] way nor the chickenhawks in Congress who vote to deny children health care.
I apologize for this reason: I think we have serious issues before us, the issue of providing medical care to children, the issue about what we're going to do about a war that we're divided about how to end.
Other controversies include singling out "Jewish colleagues" for blame for the Persian Gulf War and referring to Congressman Stephen Solarz of New York (who co-sponsored the Gulf War Authorization Act) as "Field Marshal Solarz in the pro-Israel forces." in 1991. In 1995, during a private meeting with Congresswoman Nancy Johnson of Connecticut, he called Johnson a "whore for the insurance industry" and suggested that her knowledge of health care came solely from "pillow talk" with her husband, a physician. His press secretary, Caleb Marshall, defended him in saying, "He didn't call her a 'whore', he called her a 'whore of the insurance industry.'" In a 2001 Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health hearing on abstinence promotion, he referred to Congressman J. C. Watts of Oklahoma as "the current Republican Conference Chairman, whose children were all born out of wedlock." In 2003, when Stark was told to "shut up" by Congressman Scott McInnis of Colorado during a Ways and Means Committee meeting due to Stark's belittling of the chairman, Bill Thomas of California, he replied, "You think you are big enough to make me, you little wimp? Come on. Come over here and make me, I dare you. You little fruitcake."
In a 2008 videotaped interview with documentarian Jan Helfeld concerning the size of the national debt, Stark stated that the size of the national debt is a reflection of the nation's wealth. When pressed if the nation should take on more debt in order to have more wealth, Stark threatened Helfeld: "You get the fuck out of here or I'll throw you out the window."
On August 27, 2009, Stark suggested that his moderate Democratic colleagues were "brain dead" for proposing changes to the health care reform bill being considered by Congress. During a conference call, Stark said that they:
... just want to cause trouble ... they're for the most part, I hate to say, brain dead, but they're just looking to raise money from insurance companies and promote a right-wing agenda that is not really very useful in this whole process.
During a town hall meeting in 2009, a constituent who opposed President Barack Obama's health care plan told Stark, "Mr. Congressman, don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining." Stark responded with, "I wouldn't dignify you by peeing on your leg. It wouldn't be worth wasting the urine."
Real estate taxes
For two years, Stark allegedly claimed his waterfront Maryland home as his primary residence in order to claim a homestead exemption to reduce his local real estate taxes. Under Maryland law, in order to qualify, the owner must register to vote and drive in Maryland.
On December 24, 2008, the House Ethics Committee began an investigation to determine whether Stark improperly claimed a homestead exemption. The home in California Stark claimed as his residence and where he was registered to vote is owned and occupied by his in-laws. In January 2010, the House Ethics Committee voted unanimously that the allegations that Stark took a tax break on a property he owns in Maryland were unfounded.
|1972||U.S. House of Representatives||California 8th District||Pete Stark||52%||Lew M. Wardin||47%|
|1974||U.S. House of Representatives||California 9th District||Pete Stark||71%||Edson Adams||29%|
|Year||Office||District||Democratic||Republican||Peace and Freedom|
|1976||U.S. House of Representatives||California 9th District||Pete Stark (inc.)||71%||James K. Mills||27%||Albert L. Sargis||2%|
|1978||U.S. House of Representatives||California 9th District||Pete Stark (inc.)||65%||Robert S. Allen||31%||Lawrance J. Phillips||4%|
|1980||U.S. House of Representatives||California 9th District||Pete Stark (inc.)||55%||William J. Kennedy||41%||Steven W. Clanin||4%|
|1982||U.S. House of Representatives||California 9th District||Pete Stark (inc.)||60%||William J. Kennedy||39%|
|1984||U.S. House of Representatives||California 9th District||Pete Stark (inc.)||70%||J.T. Beaver||26%||Martha Fuhrig||4%|
|1986||U.S. House of Representatives||California 9th District||Pete Stark (inc.)||70%||David M. Williams||30%|
|1988||U.S. House of Representatives||California 9th District||Pete Stark (inc.)||73%||Howard Hertz||27%|
|1990||U.S. House of Representatives||California 9th District||Pete Stark (inc.)||58%||Victor Romero||41%|
|Year||Office||District||Democratic||Republican||Peace and Freedom|
|1992||U.S. House of Representatives||California 13th District||Pete Stark||60%||Verne Teyler||32%||Roslyn A. Allen||8%|
|1994||U.S. House of Representatives||California 13th District||Pete Stark (inc.)||65%||Larry Molton||30%||Robert Gough||5%|
|1996||U.S. House of Representatives||California 13th District||Pete Stark (inc.)||65%||James S. Fay||30%||Terry Savage||4%|
|1998||U.S. House of Representatives||California 13th District||Pete Stark (inc.)||71%||James R. Goetz||27%||Karnig Beylikjian||4%|
|Year||Office||District||Democratic||Republican||Libertarian||Natural Law||American Independent|
|2000||U.S. House of Representatives||California 13th District||Pete Stark (inc.)||71%||James R. Goetz||24%||Howard Mora||3%||Timothy R. Hoehner||1%||Don J.Grundman||1%|
|2002||U.S. House of Representatives||California 13th District||Pete Stark (inc.)||71%||Syed R. Mahmood||22%||Mark R. Stroberg||3%||Don J.Grundman||2%||John J. Bambey||2%|
|2004||U.S. House of Representatives||California 13th District||Pete Stark (inc.)||72%||George I. Bruno||28%||Mark R. Stroberg||4%|
|2006||U.S. House of Representatives||California 13th District||Pete Stark (inc.)||76%||George L. Bruno||25%|
|2008||U.S. House of Representatives||California 13th District||Pete Stark (inc.)||76%||Raymond Chui||23%|
|2010||U.S. House of Representatives||California 13th District||Pete Stark (inc.)||72%||Forest Baker||27%|
|2012||U.S. House of Representatives||California 15th District||Eric Swalwell||52%||Pete Stark||48%|
Pete Stark gave decades of public service to East Bay residents as a voice in Congress for working people... His knowledge of policy, particularly regarding health care, and his opposition to unnecessary wars demonstrated his deep care for his constituents. Our community mourns his loss.
- Seelye, Katharine Q. (January 27, 2020). "Pete Stark, Fighter in Congress for Health Care, Dies at 88". The New York Times. Retrieved January 27, 2020.
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- MIT 'Loses' One Seat in US Congress November 14, 1990
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- "U.S. Congress - District 13 Districtwide Results" Archived November 20, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, California Secretary of State website . Retrieved November 17, 2008.
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- HR 2419, QUESTION: On Agreeing to the Conference Report, BILL TITLE: Farm, Nutrition, and Bioenergy Act, Office of the Clerk, United States House of Representatives (May 14, 2008).
- "Congress's Own Liechtenstein". Wall Street Journal. March 20, 2009.
- HR 3997, To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide earnings assistance and tax relief to members of the uniformed services, volunteer firefighters, and Peace Corps volunteers, and for other purposes, On Concurring in Senate Amendment With An Amendment, Office of the Clerk, United States House of Representatives.
- HR 1424, Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, On Motion to Concur in Senate Amendments, Office of the Clerk, United States House of Representatives.
- "A look at how Bay Area lawmakers voted on the bailout". KGO-TV. October 3, 2008.
- "Rep. Stark Statement In Opposition To Bailout Legislation" (Press release). Office of U.S. Representative Pete Stark. September 29, 2008. Archived from the original on March 1, 2009.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
- Stoller, Matt. "Opening the Day: Democrat Pete Stark Goes After Paulson's "irresponsible rumor mongering hogwash"". Open Left. Archived from the original on October 12, 2009. Retrieved August 13, 2010.
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- Elizabeth McGowan, Tiny Tax on Wall Street Trades to Pay for Climate Mitigation?, InsideClimate News (July 28, 2010).
- Pete Stark, Currency tax: A way to invest in our future, The Hill (July 20, 2010).
- Benjamin, Matthew; Kerry Young (August 30, 2006). "46 Million Live in U.S. Without Health Insurance". New York Sun. p. 2. Retrieved October 1, 2007.
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- Kolber, Morey J (2006). "Stark regulation: a historical and current review of the self-referral laws". HEC Forum. 18 (1): 61–84. doi:10.1007/s10730-006-7988-3. PMID 17076130. S2CID 28269719.[verification needed]
- "42 U.S.C. 1395nn". U.S. Government Publishing Office. Retrieved August 30, 2016.[verification needed]
- Kusske, John A (2002). "Neurosurgical practice in the current regulatory environment". Neurosurgical Focus. 12 (4): 1–16. doi:10.3171/foc.2002.12.4.12. PMID 16212302.[verification needed]
- "Physician Self Referral". Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Retrieved August 30, 2016.[verification needed]
- "Pete Stark, Health Policy Warrior, Leaves A Long Legacy : Shots - Health News". NPR. January 2, 2013. Retrieved January 28, 2020.
- "Excerpts From House Debate on the Use of Military Force Against Iraq", The New York Times, October 10, 2002, p. A21
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- "Congressional Record: U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health, and Iraq Accountability Act, 2007". GovTrack.us. March 23, 2007. Archived from the original on September 14, 2008. Retrieved September 30, 2007.
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- "Congressman Holds No God-Belief". Secular Coalition for America. March 12, 2007. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved October 1, 2007.
- Phillips, Amanda (September 27, 2007). "U.S. Rep. Pete Stark "Comes Out" as an Atheist". Common Dreams NewsCenter. Archived from the original on October 8, 2007. Retrieved October 1, 2007.
- "Representative Pete Stark Named 2008 Humanist of the Year". American Humanist Association. June 6, 2008.
- "H. Res. 81, 112th Congress, 2011–2013". February 9, 2011.
- Winston, Kimberly (November 8, 2012). "Arizona Democrat to replace defeated Pete Stark as sole atheist in Congress". Washington Post. Retrieved February 8, 2020.
- Atheist, Friendly (January 25, 2020). "Rep. Pete Stark, the First Openly Non-Religious Member of Congress, Has Died". Friendly Atheist. Retrieved February 9, 2020.
- "Board". Secular Coalition for America. Retrieved May 12, 2019.
- Video on YouTube, October 18, 2007.
- The John Ziegler Show, KFI, October 18, 2007 (7PM hour) and October 19, 2007 (7PM hour) (podcast Archived October 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved October 22, 2007.
- KCBS, "Stark Stands Behind GOP Accusations", October 18, 2007.
- Stark Calls On Boehner, Republicans To Retract Opposition To Children's Health Care, Apologize Archived May 2, 2009, at the Wayback Machine Press Release, Office of Congressman Pete Stark
- Stark apologizes, calls on Congress to provide health care to children and end the war in Iraq Archived 2007-11-03 at the Wayback Machine, October 23, 2007.
- Weisman, Jonathan (October 24, 2007). "Stark's Latest Gaffe Is Just One In a Long Line". The Washington Post. pp. A17. Retrieved April 15, 2009.
- "Profanity laced Stark interview circulating on the blogosphere". TheHill. September 3, 2009. Retrieved January 28, 2020.
- "Page Unavailable - MSN Money". News.moneycentral.msn.com. Archived from the original on March 8, 2007. Retrieved August 13, 2010.
- Garofoli, Joe (September 14, 2009). "SFGate: Politics Blog : Rep. Stark refuses to pee on constituent's leg at Town Hall, cites waste of urine. Really". San Francisco Chronicle.
- "Maryland Is Home Sweet Home for Congressmen Seeking Tax Break". ABA Journal. March 19, 2009. Retrieved August 13, 2010.
- "Local Congressman To Learn Results Of Ethics Probe". Ktvu.com. January 18, 2010. Archived from the original on January 22, 2010. Retrieved August 13, 2010.
- "Former California Congressman Pete Stark dies at 88". SFChronicle.com. January 25, 2020. Retrieved January 25, 2020.
- Congressman Pete Stark at the Wayback Machine (archived March 12, 2008) official U.S. House website (archived)
- Pete Stark for Congress official campaign website
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- on YouTube
- Appearances on C-SPAN