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Charles Grassley

Chuck Grassley
United States Senator
from Iowa
Assumed office
January 3, 1981
Serving with Tom Harkin
Preceded by John Culver
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance
In office
January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2007
Preceded by Max Baucus
Succeeded by Max Baucus
Chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging
In office
January 7, 1997 – January 3, 2001
Preceded by William Cohen
Succeeded by John B. Breaux
In office
January 20, 2001 – June 6, 2001
Preceded by John B. Breaux
Succeeded by John B. Breaux
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Iowa's 3rd district
In office
January 3, 1975 – January 3, 1981
Preceded by H.R. Gross
Succeeded by T. Cooper Evans
Member of the
Iowa House of Representatives
In office
January 12, 1959 – January 12, 1975
Personal details
Born Charles Ernest Grassley
(1933-09-17) September 17, 1933 (age 80)
New Hartford, Iowa
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Barbara Grassley
Children Lee Grassley
Wendy Grassley
Robin Grassley
Michele Grassley
Jay Grassley
Residence New Hartford, Iowa
Alma mater University of Northern Iowa (B.A., M.A.)
Occupation Politician
Religion BaptistBGC

Charles Ernest "Chuck" Grassley (born September 17, 1933) is the senior United States Senator from Iowa, serving since 1981. A member of the Republican Party, he previously served in the United States House of Representatives (1975–1981) and the Iowa state legislature (1959–1974). He was chairman of the Senate Finance Committee from January to June 2001 and from January 2003 to December 2006. He is currently the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee.

Early life, education and career

Grassley was born in New Hartford, Iowa, the son of Ruth (née Corwin) and Louis Arthur Grassley,[1] and graduated from the town high school. At Iowa State Teachers College (now the University of Northern Iowa), he earned a B.A. in 1955 and an M.A. in 1956. During his time as a student, Grassley joined the social-professional Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity.[2] Also during the 1950s, Grassley farmed and worked in factories, first as a sheet metal shearer and then as an assembly line worker. He studied toward a Ph.D. in political science at the University of Iowa. In 1967–1968 Grassley taught at the now-defunct Charles City College.[3]

Iowa House of Representatives

Grassley represented parts of Butler County in the Iowa House of Representatives from 1959 until 1975.[3]

U.S. House of Representatives

Grassley served in the United States House of Representatives from 1975 to 1981.[4]

U.S. Senate

Committee assignments


As a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, Grassley has spearheaded many probes into the misuse and accountability of federal money. In July 2007, a Grassley-commissioned report was released claiming that more than US$1 billion in farm subsidies were sent to deceased individuals. Grassley said: "It's unconscionable that the Department of Agriculture would think that a dead person was actively engaged in the business of farming."[5]

On June 28, 2006, Grassley proposed a so-called Pimp Tax[6][7] intended to curb sex trafficking and sex slavery in the United States by means of strict enforcement of tax laws, for example by requiring a W-2 form be filed for each prostitute managed by a pimp or other employer.

Since 1976, Grassley has repeatedly introduced measures that increase the level of double taxation on American citizens living abroad, including retroactive tax hikes. Grassley was eventually able to attach an amendment to a piece of legislation that went into effect in 2006, which increased taxes on Americans abroad by targeting housing and living incentives paid by foreign employers and held them accountable for federal taxes, even though they did not currently reside in the United States. Critics of the amendment felt that the move hurt Americans competing for jobs abroad by putting an unnecessary tax burden on foreign employers. Others felt that the move was only to offset the revenue deficit caused by domestic tax cuts of the Bush Administration.[8][9][10]

In March 2009, amid the scandal involving various AIG executives receiving large salary bonuses from the taxpayer-funded bailout of the corporate giant, Grassley sparked controversy by suggesting that those AIG employees receiving large bonuses should follow the so-called 'Japanese example', resign immediately or commit suicide. After some criticism, he dismissed the comments as rhetoric.[11][12][13]

In May 2009, Grassley cosponsored a resolution to amend the US Constitution to prohibit flag-burning, stating the flag is "...the symbol our men and women in uniform have fought for over 200 years. [sic]"[14]

Grassley was among 20 co-sponsors of a 1993 Senate bill that would have mandated health insurance for Americans. In December 2009, Grassley voted against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (commonly called ObamaCare or the Affordable Care Act).

On April 17, 2013, Grassley voted against the Toomey-Manchin Gun Control Amendment. The amendment failed to reach the sixty senatorial votes necessary to move forward. Under the proposal, federal background checks would have been expanded to include gun shows and online sales. All such sales would have been channeled through licensed firearm dealers who would be charged for keeping record of transactions. The proposal did not require background checks for private sales between individuals.

Political positions

In 2006, Grassley received a 14 percent rating from the LCV.[22] In 2009, Senator Grassley received a 10 percent rating on the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) scorecard. The League approved of his votes on the issues of renewable energy and farm conservation programs.[22] but disapproved of his votes on the energy conference report, global warming, natural gas facilities, increasing fuel economy, and various other issues.

Grassley has been described in newswires as a "bulldog supporter" of biofuels such as ethanol.[23] Grassley has opposed conservative Senators like Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Jim DeMint (R-SC) for wanting to bring an end to ethanol subsidies.[24]

Grassley was given the American Legion's distinguished public service award for his support of a "strong national defense, service members, veterans and the American flag", primarily due to his support for a flag protection amendment.[25]

Senator Grassley has 100 percent ratings from the National Right to Life Committee,[26] Eagle Forum,[27] and Family Research Council,[28] an 84 percent rating from the American Conservative Union,[29] and a 20 percent rating from the Human Rights Campaign.[30]

Grassley has campaigned to increase protection and provide support for "Whistleblowers". He has supported a number of FBI whistleblowers, including Coleen Rowley, Michael German, and Jane Turner. Grassley received a lifetime achievement award on May 17, 2007 from the National Whistleblower Center.


Religious organizations

On November 5, 2007, Grassley announced an investigation into the tax-exempt status of six ministries under the leadership of Benny Hinn, Paula White, Eddie L. Long, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, and Kenneth Copeland by the United States Senate Committee on Finance.[31] In letters to each ministry, Grassley asked for the ministries to divulge specific financial information to the committee to determine whether or not funds collected by each organization were inappropriately utilized by ministry heads.[32] By the December 6, 2007 deadline, only three of the ministries had shown compliance with the Finance Committee's request. On March 11, 2008, Grassley and Finance Chairman Max Baucus sent follow-up letters to Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar and Eddie Long, explaining that the Senate reserved the right to investigate the finances of their organizations under federal tax laws.[33]

Responses from these Ministers included Constitutional arguments about Congressional power to oversee such matters. They claim that only the IRS has the authority to request such information, and should the IRS request it or pursue an investigation, the ministries involved would gladly comply.

Grassley himself is a member of The Fellowship (Christian organization), a controversial tax-exempt quasi-religious, and political influence, organization also known as The Family.[34]

Medical research

Grassley also began an investigation about unreported payments to physicians by pharmaceutical companies. Grassley led a 2008 Congressional Investigation which found that well-known university psychiatrists, who had promoted psychoactive drugs, had violated federal and university regulations by secretly receiving large sums of money from the pharmaceutical companies which made the drugs.[35] The New York Times reported that Dr. Joseph Biederman of Harvard University had failed to report over a million dollars of income that he had received from pharmaceutical companies.[36] Weeks later, Business Week reported that Grassley alleged that Alan Schatzberg, chair of psychiatry at Stanford University, had underreported his investments in Corcept Therapeutics, a company he founded.[37] Dr. Schatzberg had reported only $100,000 investments in Corcept, but Grassley stated that his investments actually totalled over $6 million. Dr. Schaztberg later stepped down from his grant which is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).[38] Similarly, Dr. Charles Nemeroff resigned as chair of the psychiatry department at Emory University after failing to report a third of the $2.8 million in consulting fees he received from GlaxoSmithKline. At the time he received these fees, Dr. Nemeroff had been principal investigator of a $3.9 million NIH grant evaluating five medications for depression manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline.[39]

In 2008, for the first time, Grassley asked the American Psychiatric Association to disclose how much of its annual budget came from drug industry funds. The APA said that industry contributed 28% of its budget ($14 million at that time), mainly through paid advertising in APA journals and funds for continuing medical education.[40]

Political campaigns

Grassley was elected to his Senate seat in 1980, defeating the Democratic incumbent, John Culver. He was reelected in 1986, 1992, 1998, 2004, and 2010; he is the second-longest serving Senator in Iowa history. He has remained very popular in Iowa even as the state trended Democratic. In 1992, for instance, he won a third term with 69 percent of the vote even as Bill Clinton carried the state in the presidential election.


Grassley sought a sixth term in the 2010 election. He was challenged by Democrat Roxanne Conlin, a former U.S. Attorney, and Libertarian John Heiderscheit, an attorney.

Grassley was unopposed in the Republican primary, although some conservatives said he has drifted "too far to the left".[41] Among those is conservative activist Bill Salier, who said "Grassley was the dominant force and had an enormous amount of loyalty. That has so eroded out from underneath him" during an interview on WHO-AM radio.[42]

Grassley was reelected with 64.5% of the vote, Roxanne Conlin getting 33.2% of the vote. He carried every county in the state except Johnson County.[43] He is only the second Iowan to serve six terms in the Senate; the other being Iowa's longest-serving Senator, William B. Allison.


According to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, the industries that have been the largest contributors to Grassley during his political career are health professionals ($1 million in contributions), insurance industry ($997,674), lawyers/law firms ($625,543) and pharmaceuticals/health products ($538,680). His largest corporate donors have been Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance, Amgen biotech company and Wells Fargo bank.[44]

Electoral history

United States Senate election in Iowa, 2010

Chuck Grassley (R) (inc.) 63.4%
Roxanne Conlin (D) 32.8%
John Heiderscheit (Lib.) 2.2%

United States Senate election in Iowa, 2004

Chuck Grassley (R) (inc.) 70.1%
Arthur Small (D) 27.9%
Christy Welty (Lib.) 1%
Daryl Northrop (Green) 0.8%
Edwin Fruit (Socialist Workers) 0.1%

United States Senate election in Iowa, 1998

Chuck Grassley (R) (inc.) 68.4%
David Osterberg (D) 30.5%
Susan Marcus (Natural Law) 0.8%
Margaret Trowe (Socialist Workers) 0.3%

United States Senate election in Iowa, 1992

Chuck Grassley (R) (inc.) 69.6%
Jean Lloyd-Jones (D) 27.2%
Stuart Zimmerman (Natural Law) 1.3%
Sue Atkinson (I) 0.5%
Mel Boring (I) 0.4%
Rosanne Freeburg (I) 0.4%
Carl Eric Olsen (Grassroots) 0.3%
Richard O'Dell Hughes (I) 0.2%
Cleve Andrew Pulley (Socialist Workers) 0.1%

United States Senate election in Iowa, 1986

Chuck Grassley (R) (inc.) 66%
John P. Roehrick (D) 34%

United States Senate election in Iowa, 1980

Chuck Grassley (R) 53.5%
John Culver (D) (inc.) 45.5%

1978 Iowa 3rd District United States Congressional Election

Chuck Grassley (R) (inc.) 74.8%
John Knudson (D) 25.2%

1976 Iowa 3rd District United States Congressional Election

Chuck Grassley (R) (inc.) 56%
Stephen Rapp 44%

1974 Iowa 3rd District United States Congressional Election

Chuck Grassley (R) 50.8%
Stephen Rapp (D) 49.2%

Personal life

Grassley married Barbara Ann Speicher in September 1954; the couple have five children: Lee, Wendy, Robin, Michele, and Jay. Grassley is a member of The Family, the tax-exempt quasi-Christian political organization that organizes the National Prayer Breakfast.[45]


In 2009, Grassley received the "Health Policy Hero" award from the National Research Center for Women & Families[46] for his 2004 oversight of legislative reforms and accountability of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).[47] Grassley was also named the hardest working member of Congress by The Hill newspaper in June 2010, tied with Max Baucus.[48]


External links

Government of the United States portal
Biography portal
Iowa portal
  • Senator Chuck Grassley official U.S. Senate site
  • Grassley For Senate
  • Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  • Ballotpedia
  • NNDB
  • Project Vote Smart
  • GovTrack
  • OpenCongress
  • Roll Call
  • Federal Election Commission
  • The Washington Post
  • On the Issues
  • The Library of Congress
  • The Washington Post
  • WorldCat catalog)
  • C-SPAN programs
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Bloomberg News
  • The New York Times
  • The Washington Post
  • The New Republic, September 10, 2007
Preceded by
H.R. Gross
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Iowa's 3rd congressional district

Succeeded by
T. Cooper Evans
Preceded by
John Culver
United States Senator (Class 3) from Iowa
Served alongside: Roger Jepsen, Tom Harkin
Political offices
Preceded by
William Cohen
Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee
Succeeded by
John Breaux
Preceded by
Max Baucus
Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee
Succeeded by
Max Baucus
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Carl Levin
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
Tom Harkin
Party political offices
Preceded by
David M. Stanley
Republican Party nominee for United States Senator from Iowa
(Class 3)

1980, 1986, 1992, 1998, 2004, 2010
Succeeded by

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