|Member of the |
U.S. House of Representatives
January 3, 1973 - January 3, 2013
|George P. Miller|
|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 (B.S.)|
University of California, Berkeley (M.B.A.)
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|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, and 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.
Stark was born on November 11, 1931 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the son of Dorothy M. (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.
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'."
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.
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."
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.
|U.S. House of Representatives|
George P. Miller
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 8th congressional district
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 9th congressional district
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 13th congressional district
| Chairman of the House District of Columbia Committee
Duties transferred to Government Reform and Oversight Committee