|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from California's 35th district
June 30, 1970 - January 3, 1973
|James B. Utt|
|Glenn M. Anderson|
John George Schmitz
August 12, 1930
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
|Died||January 10, 2001 (aged 70)|
Bethesda, Maryland, U.S.
|American Independent (1972)|
|Children||9, including Mary and Joseph|
|Education||Marquette University (BA)|
California State University, Long Beach (MA)
John George Schmitz (August 12, 1930 - January 10, 2001) was a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives and California State Senate from Orange County, California. He was also a member of the John Birch Society. In 1972 he was the candidate for President of the United States of the American Independent Party, later known as the American Party.
Schmitz was notable for his extreme right-wing sympathies. By one measure, he was found to be the third most conservative member of Congress between 1937 and 2002, and the ultra-conservative John Birch Society, of which Schmitz was a longtime leader, later expelled him for extremist rhetoric.
In 1982, after it was revealed--and Schmitz admitted--that he had engaged in an extra-marital affair and fathered two children with one of his former college students, Schmitz's career as a politician effectively ended, as did his wife Mary's as a conservative political commentator.
Schmitz was born in Milwaukee, the son of Wilhelmina (Frueh) and Jacob John Schmitz. He obtained his B.S. degree from Marquette University in Milwaukee in 1952 and an M.A. from California State University, Long Beach, in 1960. He served as a United States Marine Corps jet fighter and helicopter pilot from 1952 to 1960, and was a lieutenant colonel in the United States Marine Corps Reserve from 1960 to 1983.
After leaving the Marines, Schmitz took a job as an instructor in philosophy and political science at Santa Ana College. He also became active in the John Birch Society. His views attracted the attention of wealthy Orange County conservatives such as fast-food magnate Carl Karcher, sporting goods heir Willard Voit and San Juan Capistrano rancher Tom Rogers.
They helped him win election to the California Senate in 1964 from a district in Orange County. His views were very conservative even by the standards of Orange County. Schmitz once joked that he had joined the John Birch Society in order to court the moderate vote in Orange County. He opposed sex education in public schools while as a public educator he engaged in extra-marital sexual relations and fathered two children out of wedlock. He believed citizens should be able to carry loaded guns in their cars. He was also critical of the civil unrest that characterized the mid-1960s. He called the Watts riots of 1965 "a Communist operation," and a year later sponsored a bill, which failed to pass, to investigate the backgrounds of teachers suspected of Communist affiliations. He also believed that state universities should be sold to private corporations as a curb against student protests.
When Richard M. Nixon, whose permanent residence at the time was in San Clemente--located in Schmitz's district-- first went to China in 1972, Schmitz was asked if he supported President Nixon's going to China. Schmitz replied, "I didn't care that Nixon went to China, I was only upset that he came back." Nixon recruited Orange County Tax Assessor Andrew J. Hinshaw, a more moderate Republican, to run against Schmitz in the Republican primary for the renumbered 39th District.
Angry at Nixon's role in his defeat, Schmitz changed his party registration to the American Independent after being nominated as their candidate for president in the 1972 election; Tom Anderson of Tennessee was his running mate. The pair received 1,100,868 votes for 1.42% of the total. Schmitz' best showings were in the West. He received 9.30 percent of the vote in Idaho, where he finished second ahead of Democrat George McGovern in the archconservative Mormon counties of Fremont, Jefferson, Madison and Lemhi. In Jefferson County Schmitz achieved the best result for a third-party presidential candidate in any non-Southern county since 1936 when William Lemke passed twenty-eight percent of the vote in the North Dakota counties of Burke, Sheridan and Hettinger. Schmitz received 7.25 percent in Alaska, 5.97 percent in Utah, and between four and five percent in Oregon,Montana,Washington State and also Louisiana.
Schmitz won the District 36 state senate seat in 1978, with 49.5% of the vote, and subsequently was named chairman of the Constitutional Amendments Committee.
In 1981, Schmitz--who was staunchly pro-life--chaired a committee hearing on abortion. Feminist attorney Gloria Allred testified at the hearing in support of the pro-choice position, and afterward sarcastically presented Schmitz with a black leather chastity belt. Schmitz's committee then issued a press release under the headline, "Senator Schmitz and His Committee Survive Attack of the Bulldykes", describing the hearing room as filled with "hard, Jewish and (arguably) female faces." Allred sued Schmitz for libel, claiming $10 million in damages, but settled for $20,000 and an apology. In his apology, Schmitz stated, "I have never considered her (Allred) to be ... a slick, butch lawyeress." Allred later appeared at a press conference called by Senator Schmitz regarding Mid-East issues, handed Schmitz a box of frogs and shouted, "A plague on the House of Schmitz!"
The incident cost him his committee chairmanship and the John Birch Society stripped him of his membership for "extremism." Despite this, Schmitz announced plans to run for the Republican nomination for the United States Senate in 1982.
Early in 1982, John George Stuckle, an infant born on June 10, 1981, was treated at an Orange County hospital for an injured penis. A piece of hair was wrapped so tightly around the organ--"in a square knot," according to one doctor--that it was almost severed. The surgery went well and the baby suffered no permanent injury. However, the baby's mother, Carla Stuckle, a 43-year-old Swedish-born immigrant and longtime Republican volunteer, was not allowed to take John George home since some of the attending doctors were convinced the hair had been deliberately tied around his penis. Detectives threatened to arrest Carla and take John George away permanently unless she identified the father. Carla then identified Schmitz as John George's father.
During a custody hearing, Schmitz acknowledged fathering John George out of wedlock. He was also the father of Carla's daughter, Eugenie. The admission effectively ended his political career, though he made an unsuccessful run for the 38th Congressional District in 1984. He was defeated by former Congressman Bob Dornan in the Republican primary 65% to 11%, with another candidate earning 24%. Dornan would go on to defeat Democratic incumbent Rep. Jerry Patterson in November.
Schmitz's affair also ended his wife Mary's career as a political commentator on television, where she advocated from the conservative position on the political roundtable debate show Free for All. (Before entering television, Mary had already become known as the "West Coast Phyllis Schlafly", having campaigned vigorously against Equal Rights Amendment.) He and Mary briefly separated over the affair but reconciled.
Schmitz never financially supported nor helped raise his two children with Carla Stuckle. When the detective investigating the possible child abuse claim against Stuckle confronted Schmitz about fathering John George, Schmitz confirmed parentage and reportedly told the officer, "I do not and will not support him financially. It is her [Carla Stuckle's] responsibility to take care of him." Stuckle was not charged with any crime, and authorities returned John George to her care. Stuckle raised both John George and Eugenie on her own, working long hours at two different jobs. In 1994, when John George and Eugenie were 11 and 13 respectively, Carla Stuckle died from complications of Type I diabetes. Schmitz refused custody of the children. Mary Schmitz's close friend, high-profile astrologer and alleged psychic Jeane Dixon took in the children. When Dixon died in 1997, the children became wards of the state and went to an orphanage.
Schmitz died of prostate cancer at the age of 70 on January 10, 2001. Following a packed funeral service at the Ft. Myer post chapel, was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
An obituary printed in the Journal of Historical Review, a publication of the Holocaust denial organization the Institute for Historical Review, described Schmitz as a "good friend of the Institute." Schmitz attended at least two IHR Conferences, and was a subscriber for many years to the Journal."
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California's 35th congressional district special election, 1970
Note: All candidates ran in the same primary. Since no candidate won a majority, the top two finishers from both parties (Schmitz and Hartman) went to a runoff election.
California's 35th congressional district special election, 1970 (Runoff)
California's 35th congressional district election, 1970
California's 35th congressional district Republican primary election, 1972
1972 American Independent Party National Convention
|U.S. House of Representatives|
James B. Utt
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 35th congressional district
Glenn M. Anderson
|Party political offices|
| American Independent nominee for President of the United States