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James H. Bilbray
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Nevada's 1st district
January 3, 1987 - January 3, 1995
|Born||May 19, 1938|
Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
|Residence||Las Vegas, Nevada|
Born in Las Vegas, Nevada, Bilbray graduated from Las Vegas High School and attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, from 1959 to 1960. He received a B.A. in government and public administration from American University in Washington, D.C., in 1962 and a J.D. from the Washington College of Law in 1964. He served in the Nevada Army National Guard from 1955 to 1956 and in the Nevada Army Reserves from 1957 to 1963.
Bilbray practiced law and was deputy district attorney of Clark County, Nevada, from 1965 to 1967. He was then chief legal counsel in the Clark County juvenile court from 1967 to 1968 and was an alternate municipal judge in Las Vegas from 1978 to 1980. He became licensed to practice law before the Nevada Gaming Commission and the Nevada Gaming Control Board in 1970. A Democrat, he ran for the United States House of Representatives in 1972 against conservative incumbent Walter Baring, a fellow Democrat who was disliked by his party's establishment. Bilbray won the primary and was expected to win the general election, but Baring surprised him by endorsing the Republican nominee, David Towell, who upset Bilbray in a close race. Bilbray made a comeback in 1980 when he was elected to the Nevada State Senate, where he served from 1981 to 1987, and also became chairman of the Taxation Committee and a member of the Judiciary Committee. He successfully ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1986 for the seat being vacated by Harry Reid, who made a successful run for the U.S. Senate in the same election. He served as chairman of the Small Business Subcommittee on Taxation, Tourism and Procurement and was also a member of the Foreign Affairs, Armed Services and Intelligence committees.
Bilbray lost his re-election campaign in the 1994 Republican Revolution, losing to Republican opponent John Ensign by less than 1,400 votes. Bilbray appeared to be well on his way to reelection until news surfaced that reports surfaced that one of his aides stood to make a huge profit from lands legislation sponsored by Bilbray.
After leaving Congress, Bilbray joined the law firm of Kummer, Kaempfer, Bonner and Renshaw as Of Counsel in 1996 where he has specialized in dealing with local, state and federal issues. In 2001, he received an honorary doctorate of laws from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas for his work in state and federal government. He was appointed a commissioner on the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission and in 2006 was appointed a member of the Board of Governors of the United States Postal Service by President George W. Bush for a term ending in 2015. He currently resides in Las Vegas. James H. Bilbray Elementary School in Las Vegas is named in his honor.
Bilbray is the father of 2014 Congressional candidate Erin Bilbray and cousin to former Republican congressman Brian Bilbray of California. His daughter, Shannon Bilbray-Axelrod, currently serves in the Nevada Assembly.
Nevada Rep. James Bilbray (D) was felled after it was revealed days before the election that his aide stood to profit millions from lands legislation he had sponsored