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Ray LaHood

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Ray LaHood

Ray LaHood
16th United States Secretary of Transportation
In office
January 23, 2009 – July 2, 2013
President Barack Obama
Deputy John Porcari
Preceded by Mary Peters
Succeeded by Anthony Foxx
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 18th district
In office
January 3, 1995 – January 3, 2009
Preceded by Robert Michel
Succeeded by Aaron Schock
Personal details
Born (1945-12-06) December 6, 1945
Peoria, Illinois, U.S.
Political party Republican
Children Darin LaHood, Sam LaHood
Alma mater Spoon River College
Bradley University
Religion Maronite Catholicism

Raymond H. "Ray" LaHood (born December 6, 1945) is an American politician who served as United States Secretary of Transportation from 2009 until 2013. A Republican from Illinois, LaHood represented Illinois's 18th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2009.


  • Early life and education 1
  • Early career 2
  • U.S. Representative 3
  • Secretary of Transportation 4
  • Honors 5
  • Electoral history 6
  • Personal life 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10

Early life and education

LaHood was born in Peoria, Illinois, to Edward M. LaHood, a Lebanese American who managed a restaurant, and Mary A. LaHood (née Vogel), who was of German ancestry.[1][2][3] In 2006, he was one of four Arab-American members of Congress.[4]

He graduated from Spalding Institute (now Peoria Notre Dame High School), worked his way through Canton Junior College and Bradley University in Peoria, earning a Bachelor of Science in education and sociology in 1971.[1]

Early career

Following graduation, he taught middle school social studies at public and Catholic schools,[1] and has said that "teaching kids ... about the constitution and government" stirred his interest in politics.[5]

LaHood was director of the Rock Island County Youth Services Bureau and then district administrative assistant for U.S. congressman Tom Railsback, a Moline, Illinois Republican, from 1977 to 1982.[6] He was appointed in 1982 to fill a vacant seat in the Illinois House of Representatives, serving for nine months, and running for the seat in November 1982, but losing to Democrat Bob DeJaegher.[6] LaHood then became administrative assistant and ultimately the chief of staff to U.S. House Minority Leader Robert Michel, serving from 1982 until 1994.[6]

U.S. Representative

When Michel announced his retirement in 1994, LaHood ran for and won his seat in the House, representing Illinois's 18th congressional district.[1] LaHood was one of only three Republicans elected to the House that year who did not sign on to the

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Robert Michel
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 18th congressional district

Succeeded by
Aaron Schock
Political offices
Preceded by
Mary Peters
United States Secretary of Transportation
Succeeded by
Anthony Foxx
  • LaHood tapped for Obama Cabinet Karen McDonald, Peoria Journal Star, December 17, 2008
  • The GOP Goes South David S. Broder, "Washington Post," December 28, 2008, on Ray LaHood's selection for the Obama cabinet and what that means for the Republican Party
  • Ray LaHood: A driving force in White House

External links

  1. ^ a b c d e U.S. Congressman Ray LaHood at the Wayback Machine (archived October 11, 2004)
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  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j
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  11. ^ [1] Archived April 19, 2006 at the Wayback Machine
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  14. ^ [2] "The Club For Growth", August 9, 2007
  15. ^ Citizens Against Government Waste 2007 House Scorecard "Citizens Against Government Waste", August 27, 2008
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  21. ^ Gates is not registered with any political party, but considers himself Republican.
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  26. ^ Chapman Steve (April 28, 2011) Taking Taxpayers for a Ride, Reason
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  33. ^ 100% of precincts reporting. Unframed data at [3].
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See also

On February 5, 2012, Egyptian authorities charged LaHood's son and 42 other individuals with "spending money from organizations that were operating in Egypt without a license." Nineteen Americans were part of the 42 charged. The U.S. government said that $1.5 billion in U.S. aid to Egypt could be withheld if the investigation was not finished quickly. Faiza Abu Naga, Egypt's Minister of International Cooperation, was seen as the person pushing the investigation forward.[35][36] Sam LaHood left Egypt along with several foreign NGO workers on March 1, 2012.[37] Sam LaHood was tried in absentia by an Egyptian criminal court, and convicted of operating without a license and receiving foreign funding.[38] LaHood was given a five-year jail term and fined 1,000 Egyptian pounds ($143).[38][39]

On January 21, 2012, LaHood's son, Sam LaHood, was detained by the Egyptian government and not allowed to leave the country as part of a politically charged criminal investigation by the Egyptian government into the activities of Egypt. LaHood's son is the Egypt director of the International Republican Institute. The Egyptian government detained twelve NGO representatives from leaving Egypt.[34]

LaHood and his wife Kathy have a residence in East Peoria, Illinois. Ray and Kathy have four children—Darin, Amy, Sam, Sara. Their son, Darin LaHood, is a current member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Illinois's 18th congressional district.

Personal life

LaHood did not to seek re-election in 2008, and Barack Obama nominated him to be U.S. Secretary of Transportation. Illinois State Representative Aaron Schock of Peoria won the seat for the Republicans in the 2008 election.[33]

* Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 1994, write-ins received 955 votes. In 1998, write-ins received 2 votes.

Illinois's 18th congressional district: Results 1994–2006[32]
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct
1994 G. Douglas Stephens 78,332 39% Ray LaHood 119,838 60% *
1996 Mike Curran 98,413 41% Ray LaHood 143,110 59%
1998 (no candidate) Ray LaHood 158,175 100% *
2000 Joyce Harant 85,317 33% Ray LaHood 173,706 67%
2002 (no candidate) Ray LaHood 192,567 100%
2004 Steve Waterworth 91,548 30% Ray LaHood 216,047 70%
2006 Steve Waterworth 73,052 33% Ray LaHood 150,194 67%

LaHood's congressional seat, Illinois's 18th congressional district, has been Republican since 1939.

Electoral history

Also that month, in recognition of his Congressional and Cabinet service as he neared his last days in office, a portrait of him (with a bust of Abraham Lincoln's head in the background—LaHood had represented his 18th Illinois Congressional District and named the headquarters of his agency after him) by Simmie Knox. The portrait was unveiled and dedicated at the Abraham Lincoln U.S. Department of Transportation Building in the presence of LaHood's family, U.S. Merchant Marines, Shaun Donovan (Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development), and Janet Napolitano (Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security), as well as his predecessor in Congress in Illinois's 18th District, former U.S. House Minority Leader Robert Michel.[31]

In May 2013, Illinois State Representative Jehan Gordon-Booth, who, like LaHood did in the U.S. Congress, represents a central Illinois district, introduced legislation in the Illinois House of Representatives Rules Committee (House Joint Resolution 35) that, if passed by the state House and Senate and signed by Governor Pat Quinn, would rename a 6-mile stretch of Interstate 74 from the Murray Baker Bridge (over the Illinois River between Tazewell and Peoria Counties) to the Sterling Avenue exit as the Ray LaHood Highway. That section corresponds to much of what was contained in the major multi-year revision that was the Upgrade 74 project in the last decade (the 2000s) that LaHood had backed in the later years of his tenure in the U.S. House.[30]


On January 29, 2013, LaHood announced he would resign as the Secretary of the Department of Transportation upon the confirmation of his successor by the United States Senate. President Obama nominated Anthony Foxx, the incumbent mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, to succeed LaHood. Foxx was subsequently confirmed by the U.S. Senate and was sworn into the position on July 2, 2013.[29]

On December 6, 2011, LaHood accepted the resignation of FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt, who was charged with drunk driving near his Washington home. In February 2013 LaHood lamented the amount of infrastructure spending that was approved by Congress during his tenure at the Department of Transportation. "America is one big pothole right now," LaHood said in an interview on "The Diane Rehm Show" on National Public Radio.[28] He went on to mention that Congress passed a $105 billion surface transportation bill last year, but he lamented the fact that the measure only provided appropriations for road and transit projects until 2014. "Congress passed a two-year bill. Ordinarily they would pass a five year bill," he said. "It was only a two-year bill because they couldn't find enough money to fund a five-year bill."

LaHood announced his plans to step down as transportation secretary at the end of Obama's first term in 2013. He did not seek any public office after that, and instead entered the private sector.[27]

LaHood is a supporter of airline passenger rights to facilities, food and water during lengthy on-aircraft delays.[25] He is also a strong proponent of high-speed rail, saying "This is what the American people want. If you build it, they will come."[26]

On February 3, 2010, LaHood was criticized for advice he was asked to give while testifying before a congressional committee regarding Toyota's recall of 2.3 million vehicles due to sudden acceleration, wherein he suggested Toyota owners stop driving their cars. LaHood qualified his statement within an hour and a half of his testimony, spelling out that he meant "owners of any recalled Toyota models (should) contact their local dealer and get their vehicles fixed as soon as possible."[24]

His nomination was confirmed by the Senate by voice vote on January 21, 2009.[20] He was, with Robert Gates,[21][22] one of two Republican members of the Obama Cabinet.[23]

On December 19, 2008, President-elect Barack Obama announced that he would nominate LaHood to be the next Transportation Secretary. LaHood's résumé on transport matters was considered thin by some critics, including the Wall Street Journal despite the fact that he served on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.[10] As a member of the House Appropriations Committee he won praise for his "skills as an arbiter" in being able to bridge sometimes bitter partisan divides in the Congress, something the position would require.[18] Some critics alleged a reputation for pork barrel spending, including in support of campaign contributors. The Washington Post reported that of the $60 million in earmarks LaHood secured for his district in 2008, $9 million went to campaign donors.[19]

LaHood works on a Habitat for Humanity project in Brooklyn, New York City, June 2009

Secretary of Transportation

During the 2008 presidential election, LaHood supported John McCain, but criticized the rallies being held by McCain's vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, saying she should put a stop to the name calling, and that the tactic could backfire. "This doesn't befit the office that she's running for. And frankly, people don't like it," he said.[16][17]

In 2007 LaHood considered, but later decided against, applying for the post of president of Bradley University.[6]

In August 2007, LaHood received a 0% rating from the fiscally conservative Club for Growth 2007 RePORK Card.[14] He received an 11% rating from the conservative lobbying group Citizens Against Government Waste in August 2007, and holds a lifetime 49% rating from the group.[15]

LaHood was said to be considering a challenge to Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich's re-election bid in 2006, but chose to run for another term in Congress instead.[6] He won the 2006 race against Steve Waterworth[11] by a margin of 147,108 (67%) to 71,106 (33%).[12] On July 26, 2007, LaHood stated he would not seek re-election in 2008.[13]

LaHood served on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee from 1995 until 2000,[10] the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence beginning in 1998, and the House Appropriations Committee beginning in 2000.[6] In 2005 he voted against renewing the PATRIOT Act, saying he opposed extending its intrusive police powers.[6]

A strong advocate for preserving the legacy of Abraham Lincoln, LaHood authored a law that established the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, which laid the groundwork for celebrating the 16th President's 200th birthday in 2009, and he was also a lead Capitol Hill supporter for the Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield, Illinois.[9]

During his service in Congress, he became well-known among C-SPAN viewers as the presiding officer of more debates than any other member.[1] Most notably, in 1998 he presided over the contentious debate over the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.[6][8]


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