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Mo BrooksMember of the U.S. House of Representatives
Morris Jackson Brooks Jr. (born April 29, 1954) is an American politician serving as the U.S. Representative for Alabama's 5th congressional district. He is a Republican. In 2017, he unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions upon his confirmation as U.S. Attorney General. In March 2018, he was rated the House's least bipartisan member by The Lugar Center.Contents
Brooks was born in 1954 in Charleston, South Carolina and moved to Huntsville, Alabama in 1963. His mother, Betty J. (Noland) Brooks, taught economics and government for over twenty years at Lee High School, while he attended Grissom High School. His father, Morris Jackson "Jack" Brooks, was raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and worked as an electrical engineer before retiring from Redstone Arsenal's Meteorology Center. They still live in Madison County, Alabama.
Brooks graduated from Grissom High School in 1972. He graduated from Duke University in three years with a double major in political science and economics, with highest honors in economics. Brooks later received his J.D. degree from the University of Alabama School of Law in 1978.
Brooks started his legal career with the Tuscaloosa district attorney's office. Brooks left the Tuscaloosa district attorney's office in 1980 to return to Huntsville as a law clerk for presiding circuit court judge John David Snodgrass. During every year except when he was serving as a prosecutor or judicial clerk, Brooks was a practicing lawyer. In 1993, he became counsel to the firm of Leo and Associates, a business law firm with a national focus, founded by Karl W. Leo. He became a partner in the firm which was reorganized as Leo & Brooks, LLC. He maintained a national practice that specialized in commercial litigation.Early political career
In 1982, Brooks was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives and was subsequently re-elected in 1983, 1986, and 1990. While in the legislature, Brooks was elected Republican house caucus chairman three times.
In 1991, Brooks was appointed Madison County district attorney. In 1992, he ran for the office, but lost to Democrat Tim Morgan. A Republican had not been elected to the office since the Reconstruction era.
In 1995–1996, Brooks was appointed state special assistant attorney general for Alabama attorney general Jeff Sessions. From 1996 to 2002, he was special assistant attorney general for attorney general Bill Pryor.
In 1996, Brooks ran for the Madison County commission and unseated an 8-year incumbent Republican. He was reelected to the commission in 2000, 2004, and 2008.
In 2006, Brooks unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor of Alabama, coming in third place behind eventual nominee Luther Strange and former state treasurer George Wallace, Jr.U.S. House of Representatives Elections
Brooks won the Republican primary, receiving 51% of the vote, defeating incumbent (and former Democrat) Parker Griffith (33%) and conservative activist Les Phillip (16%).
Brooks was named a "Young Gun" by the Republican National Committee in 2010. Larry Sabato, Charlie Cook, and Real Clear Politics rated this race "Likely Republican". CQPolitics, Stuart Rothenberg, and the New York Times rated the race "Safe Republican". Nate Silver in the FiveThirtyEight.com New York Times blog predicted that there was a 94.1% chance that Brooks would defeat the Democratic nominee, Steve Raby.
In the general election, Brooks defeated Raby 58%–42%. He became the first freshman Republican to represent this district since Reconstruction.
In January 2012, Parker Griffith, having switched parties, filed for a rematch against Brooks in the Republican primary. He said of the incumbent, "We'll contrast my time in Congress with my opponent's time in Congress. The distinction is clear, he has wandered away from many of the issues people want us to address." Brooks carried the support of Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum political action committee. Brooks defeated Griffith in the rematch 71%–29%, a landslide margin of 42 points. Brooks won all five of the counties. Griffith ran four points worse than he had in the 2010 primary.
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In 2012, the National Journal ranked him as the 75th most conservative member of the U.S. House of Representatives. His district is in northern Alabama and is home to Redstone Arsenal and Marshall Space Flight Center.Economy
In 2011, Brooks said that "Financial issues overshadow everything else going on in Washington. That one set of issues is sucking everything else out of the room."
Brooks supports changes to Social Security, including allowing individuals to invest some of their Social Security money in private retirement accounts. Brooks stated that he does not support the full privatization of Social Security, "because the stock market and many other investments are simply too volatile." Brooks also supports the plan proposed by Paul Ryan to shift Medicare from a publicly run program to one that is managed by private insurers.
Brooks is a signer of Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform's Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Brooks supports the Fair Tax proposal.
While at a monthly breakfast meeting of the Madison County Republican Men's Club, Brooks referred to the jobs bill proposed by President Obama as the "Obama 'kill jobs' bill." He told the crowd that it adds to the debt, promotes "frivolous lawsuits," and creates new government agencies. He challenged the president's promotion of the bill saying, "If Barack Obama is serious about jobs, how about repealing Obamacare, dealing with illegal immigration and urging the Democratic-controlled Senate to pass pro-jobs bills that have already cleared in the House." At the same meeting, Brooks compared the recession of 2008 (and its after effects) with the Great Depression, saying that the problems associated with the Great Depression are "a cakewalk compared to what can happen to our country if we don't start acting responsibly in Washington, D.C., to try to get this deficit under control." Brooks believes that if the national debt of the United States continues to grow, the damage done to the nation will be catastrophic.
In 2010, Brooks signed a pledge sponsored by Americans for Prosperity to not vote for any Global Warming legislation that would raise taxes.
In 2017, after Republican controlled Congress failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Brooks stated on SiriusXM Patriot, "We have Republicans who do not want to repeal ObamaCare. They may have campaigned that way, they may have voted that way a couple of years ago when it didn't make any difference."Donald Trump
In May 2018, during the Republican primary for Brooks' seat, Brooks said that he was a Donald Trump supporter in response to criticism from his primary opponent that he had criticized Trump. In his 2018 re-election bid, Brooks was endorsed by President Donald Trump. Trump said Brooks "fought by my side to secure our border, rebuild our military, cut our taxes, repeal ObamaCare, and build the wall!"
Brooks voted in support of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. He says that the bill is a way "to put more money into the pockets of working Alabamians at all income levels," and that this tax reform effort would "spur much-needed economic growth that will both help with America's deficit and debt crisis."Foreign policy
Brooks believes that "we cannot continue to be the world police." He has expressed disappointment that the U.S. military didn't leave Afghanistan immediately after the death of Osama bin Laden on May 1, 2011.
He also has expressed his disapproval over NATO military actions in Libya that the United States has been involved in. He has stated, "I reject the president's position that the way to prevent Libyans from killing Libyans is by Americans killing Libyans." He voted against H.R. 2278 and, after voting, released this statement: "We should be out of Libya altogether, and not voting piecemeal on parts of the operation. While this bill excludes some operations in Libya, it approves many others. The lesson from Vietnam is that the one sure way to lose a war is by fighting it half-way."
Brooks opposed the Electrify Africa Act of 2013 (H.R. 2548; 113th Congress), a bill that would direct the President to establish a multiyear strategy to assist countries in sub-Saharan Africa develop an appropriate mix of power solutions to provide sufficient electricity access to people living in rural and urban areas in order to alleviate poverty and drive economic growth. At a meeting of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Brooks said "American taxpayers spend more than $40 billion per year on foreign aid... Given America's out-of-control deficits and accumulated debt that threaten our economic future, I cannot justify American taxpayers building power plants and transmission lines in Africa with money we do not have, will have to borrow to get, and cannot afford to pay back."Health care
Brooks is opposed to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) and has said that the committee that passed it didn't understand it. He signed the Club for Growth's "Repeal-It!" pledge that stated that upon his election to Congress that he would "sponsor and support legislation to repeal any federal health care takeover passed in 2010, and replace it with real reforms that lower health care costs without growing government." He was also endorsed by the website Defundit.org for his stance on the health care reform bill. Brooks co-sponsored H.R. 127, which would have removed all funding from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, and any amendments made by either act.
In March 2017, Brooks said that he would not vote in support of the American Health Care Act, the GOP's initial plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. Brooks said, "I will vote against the American Health Care Act because it has more bad policy than any bill I have ever faced." On May 4, 2017 Brooks voted to pass the American Health Care Act, which would repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
In an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper, Brooks controversially argued that the AHCA "will allow insurance companies to require people who have higher health care costs to contribute more to the insurance pool. That helps offset all these costs, thereby reducing the cost to those people who lead good lives, they're healthy, they've done the things to keep their bodies healthy. And right now, those are the people—who've done things the right way—that are seeing their costs skyrocketing."Immigration
On May 14, 2015, Brooks sponsored an amendment to strip a particular provision in the National Defense Authorization Act, thereby preventing the Department of Defense from allowing "Dreamers" (undocumented youth who received temporary legal status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program established by President Obama) to enlist in the armed services.
Brooks is opposed to allowing illegal immigrants to remain in the United States. As part of his 2010 campaign, he advocated getting the federal government "out of the way so state and local governments can help solve the problem." He also advocated making it "unprofitable" for employers to hire illegal immigrants over American citizens. In an interview in 2014, he stated that "8 million undocumented workers, 500,000 young immigrants should be deported".
Brooks has been endorsed by Americans for Legal Immigration (ALI), a political action committee (or PAC). The anti-immigration organization NumbersUSA gave Brooks a perfect 100% score.
Brooks has sponsored or cosponsored 112 immigration-related bills since taking office in January 2011. Brooks also has stated that he feels Congress will probably do nothing about illegal immigration in the coming years.
On June 29, 2011, in an interview with reporter Venton Blandin of WHNT-TV, Brooks was asked by Blandin to repeat what he had previously stated at a town hall meeting about illegal immigrants. Brooks repeated his previous statement, saying, "As your congressman on the House floor, I will do anything short of shooting them. Anything that is lawful, it needs to be done because illegal aliens need to quit taking jobs from American citizens."
In a radio interview with the Will Anderson Radio Show, Brooks stated his opposition to undocumented immigrants serving in the military, saying, "These individuals have to be absolutely 100 percent loyal and trustworthy, as best as we can make them, 'cause they're gonna have access to all sorts of military weaponry—even to the point of having access to weapons of mass destruction like our nuclear arsenal. And I'm gonna have much greater faith in the loyalty of an American citizen than a person who is a citizen of a foreign nation."
Brooks said Birmingham, a city where Alabama's strict immigration law has been criticized, needed to prepare to spend more money if it wants to be a sanctuary city for illegal immigrants. He told Blandin, "They need to start picking up the tab that American citizens are having to pick up. If Birmingham wants to be a sanctuary city, or wants to head in that direction, that is their decision. They are absolutely wrong."Marijuana
Brooks has a "D" rating from NORML regarding his voting record on cannabis-related matters. Brooks has stated that legalization of marijuana is a state issue and has voted in favor of bills to allow doctors in the Veterans Health Administration to discuss medical marijuana with patients and block the DEA from taking enforcement actions against medical marijuana in states that have legalized it.National security
Brooks supports the right for the National Security Agency to collect telephone metadata on Americans, saying its potential to thwart terrorist attacks outweighs potential infringements on privacy. However, in 2014, Brooks voted in favor of the USA Freedom Act, which, according to the bill's sponsor, would "rein in the dragnet collection of data by the National Security Agency (NSA) and other government agencies, increase transparency of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), provide businesses the ability to release information regarding FISA requests, and create an independent constitutional advocate to argue cases before the FISC."Regulatory reform
In December 2011, Brooks voted in support of H.R. 10, the "Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny Act," which would have required Congressional approval for any "major regulations" issued by the executive branch but, unlike the 1996 Congressional Review Act, would not require the president's signature or override of a probable presidential veto.
According to a survey by the Christian Coalition, Brooks is also opposed to the idea of government-run health care. He voted yes on repealing the Prevention and Public Health Fund in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.Socialism
In April 2011, Brooks stated, during a congressional speech, "Folks, we are here today forcing this issue because America is at risk. We are at risk of insolvency and bankruptcy because the socialist members of this body choose to spend money that we do not have." After Brooks made this remark, Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison asked that Brooks' comments be "taken down." This request forced Brooks to either have the comment stricken from the record or defend the remark and wait until later in the day for a formal ruling over whether or not the comment was inappropriate. Brooks chose to have the remark withdrawn before he continued with his speech. Ellison accepted the withdrawal. Afterwards, Brooks stated that he did not regret his initial remark and that he thought those who objected to his comment, particularly those within the Democratic Party, were "thin-skinned." He stated, "People could quite clearly infer that socialism is what the other guys are promoting."Abortion
Brooks opposes abortion and any stem cell research that uses human embryos. Brooks co-sponsored the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act, which would have ended federal funding for Planned Parenthood.Racism
On August 4, 2014, Brooks went on The Laura Ingraham Show and Ingraham played Brooks a clip of Ron Fournier warning that the Republican Party could not survive as the "party of white people." Brooks responded: "Well, this is a part of the war on whites that's being launched by the Democratic Party... And the way in which they're launching this war is by claiming that whites hate everybody else. It's part of the strategy that Barack Obama implemented in 2008, continued in 2012, where he divides us all on race, on sex, creed, envy, class warfare, all those kinds of things." The comment drew considerable comments and controversy. When asked about the comment later that day, Brooks repeated the claim of a war on whites, stating: "In effect, what the Democrats are doing with their dividing America by race is they are waging a war on whites and I find that repugnant."
Two days after the original comment, Brooks also stated that the Republican Party was involved in a war on whites.Environment and energy
In a May 16, 2018 full committee hearing of the Science, Space and Technology Committee, "Using Technology to Address Climate Change" Brooks said, "Every time you have that soil or rock or whatever it is that is deposited into the seas, that forces the sea levels to rise, because now you have less space in those oceans, because the bottom is moving up."
His mistaken claim that land erosion plays a significant role in sea-level rise continues to be rejected by the vast majority of the scientific community. At the hearing, Brooks also argued that the Antarctic ice sheet was growing. In actuality, while in the past it has grown, in recent years it has shrunk, and any earlier growth does not disprove that climate change is occurring.Technology
Brooks voted yes on terminating funding for NPR.Other
In February 2018, Brooks delivered a Senate floor speech and later released a statement through his office announcing his opposition to the spending bill that would ward off the United States federal government shutdown, saying the bill would do more harm than good by granting more funds than the United States could afford.
In April 2018, after Trump ordered missile strikes against Syria, Brooks confirmed that he was in favor of the strikes but would prefer the president "consult with Congress and obtain an unambiguous Authorization for the Use of Military Force from Congress before engaging in acts of war against a foreign nation" and said there was evidence the Assad regime had used chemical agents.
In July 2018, Brooks announced his support for Jim Jordan amid allegations of ignoring claims of sexual abuse of athletes by a team doctor while Jordan was serving as a college wrestling coach. In his statement, Brooks recounted his seven years working alongside Jordan and said the latter had proven to him during that time that were he aware of the claims, he "would have done everything in his power to stop the inappropriate conduct."Electoral history Main article: United States House of Representatives elections, 2010 Alabama Republican Primary, 5th Congressional District, 2010 Party Candidate Votes % Republican Mo Brooks 35,746 51 Republican Parker Griffith (I) 23,525 33 Republican Les Phillip 11,085 16 Alabama 5th Congressional District Election, 2010 Party Candidate Votes % Republican Mo Brooks 130,927 58 Democratic Steve Raby 95,078 42 Main article: United States House of Representatives elections, 2012 Alabama Republican Primary, 5th Congressional District, 2012 Party Candidate Votes % Republican Mo Brooks (I) 65,123 71 Republican Parker Griffith 26,680 29 Alabama 5th Congressional District Election, 2012 Party Candidate Votes % Republican Mo Brooks (I) 188,924 65 Democratic Charlie Holley 101,536 35 Main article: United States House of Representatives elections, 2014 Alabama Republican Primary, 5th Congressional District, 2014 Party Candidate Votes % Republican Mo Brooks 49,117 80 Republican Jerry Hill 12,038 20 Alabama 5th Congressional District Election, 2014 Party Candidate Votes % Republican Mo Brooks 115,212 75 Independent Mark Bray 38,830 25 Main article: United States House of Representatives elections, 2016 Alabama 5th Congressional District Election, 2016 Party Candidate Votes % Republican Mo Brooks 204,791 66.75 Democratic Will Boyd 101,577 33.11 2016 presidential election
On November 9, 2015, Brooks endorsed Ted Cruz for President of the United States, and served as Chairman of the Cruz campaign's Alabama leadership team.
On September 9, 2016, Brooks stated that Hillary Clinton "betrayed her country by exposing national security information to risk by our adversaries. That is a criminal offense. That makes it an impeachable offense. Hillary Clinton has, in my opinion, committed a high crime or misdemeanor or treason."2017 Senate special election in Alabama
On May 15, 2017, Brooks announced he would run in the 2017 United States Senate special election. Brooks ran against Luther Strange, a Republican who was appointed to the Senate by former Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley after then-Sen. Jeff Sessions was appointed U.S. attorney general.
Brooks was endorsed by conservative talk-radio host Mark Levin, conservative radio host Laura Ingraham, conservative radio and television host Sean Hannity, and Congressman Mike Rogers.
In an interview with Yellowhammer News, Brooks touted his conservative record, stating that during the last session of Congress, Heritage Action ranked him as one of the Top Ten Best Congressmen on issues involving the "principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense." The American Conservative Union ranked his record in the top 20% of all Congressmen, with an overall A-Grade during the last session of Congress, on issues relating to "liberty, personal responsibility, traditional value, and a strong national defense." The National Taxpayers Union ranked his record at the top of the Alabama Congressional delegation, tied with Congressmen Bradley Byrne and Gary Palmer, on issues relating to "tax relief and reform, lower and less wasteful spending, individual liberty, and free enterprise." The Club for Growth ranked his record in the top 20% of all Congressmen on "economic policies that strengthen our nation's economy and shrink the size of the federal government." He was the Tea Party movement's preferred candidate.
Former Governor Bentley initially decided to align the special election with the 2018 general election, before Kay Ivey, his successor, later moved the date up to December 12, 2017, scheduling the primary for August 15 and primary runoff for September 26. In the Republican primary, Brooks was defeated by Strange and former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who advanced to the runoff. In his concession speech, he announced his re-election campaign for his congressional seat in 2018. He also "spoke more favorably of Moore and the race that he ran rather than Strange," but did not endorse a candidate for the runoff.
Brooks declared he intended to vote for Moore on November 11, days after story alleging sexual abuse by Moore was published by the Washington Post. In a text message to al.com on November 13, Brooks said, "Socialist Democrat Doug Jones will vote wrong. Roy Moore will vote right. Hence, I will vote for Roy Moore." He continued by invoking the Duke University lacrosse rape case, a story that he claimed to "vividly remember" because he had graduated from the university. Brooks then said:
As an attorney, I know accusations are easy. Proving them to the satisfaction of a judge, a jury, or here, voters, is another thing. I do not know enough of the evidence to know with confidence what the true facts are...I do believe this, there are millions of people in America who would lie in a heartbeat if it meant adding another Democrat to the Senate.
Brooks was also critical of the Washington Post in a statement to The Decatur Daily, saying:
My view of the Washington Post is that they are part of the communications wing of the Democratic Party," he said. "They are hyper-partisan to the point that they are more than willing to lie to advance their left wing, amoral, socialist agenda. I've seen them do it first-hand of my own personal knowledge.2017 Congressional baseball shooting Main article: 2017 Congressional baseball shooting
On June 14, 2017, at 7:09 am EDT, Brooks was practicing for the annual charity Congressional Baseball Game when James T. Hodgkinson opened fire on members of the Republican team, including the House Majority Whip, Steve Scalise. The practice was taking place at the Eugene Simpson Baseball Fields in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia. Brooks used his belt as a tourniquet to help stop bleeding for a staffer who had been shot in the calf. After the shooting ended, Brooks and Rep. Brad Wenstrup assisted Scalise by applying pressure to the wound until he could be evacuated. Brooks' name appeared on the shooter's assassination list.
Less than a week after the shooting, Brooks introduced the Congressional Self-Defense Act allowing lawmakers to carry concealed weapons. In his press release, Brooks further stated, "I believe all law-abiding citizens should be able to conceal carry," and has supported bills to allow national reciprocity.Personal life
Brooks met Martha Jenkins of Toledo, Ohio, at Duke University. They were married in 1976. Martha graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in accounting. In 2004, Martha attended the University of Alabama in Huntsville for a degree in teaching. She has retired from teaching math at Whitesburg Middle School in Huntsville. They have two sons, two daughters, and eight grandchildren. Brooks joined the LDS Church in 1978, and though he still attends Mormon services with his wife, he considers himself a non-denominational Christian. On December 13, 2017, Brooks revealed in an House floor speech that he has prostate cancer.References