ENG: Barnett "Barney" Frank (born March 31, 1940) is an American politician who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1981 to 2013. A member of the Democratic Party, he served as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee (2007–2011) and was a leading co-sponsor of the 2010 Dodd–Frank Act, a sweeping reform of the U.S. financial industry. Frank, a resident of Newton, Massachusetts, is considered the most prominent gay politician in the United States.
Born and raised in Bayonne, New Jersey, Frank graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He worked as a political aide before winning election to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1972.
He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1980 with 52 percent of the vote. He has been re-elected every year since by wide margins. In 1987, he came out as gay, becoming the first member of Congress to do so voluntarily. From 2003 until his retirement, Frank was the leading Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, and he served as committee chairman when his party held a House majority from 2007 to 2011. In July 2012, he married his long-time partner, James Ready, becoming the first member of Congress to marry someone of the same sex while in office. Frank did not seek re-election in 2012, and retired from Congress at the end of his term in January 2013. However, Frank had expressed interest in serving temporarily in the United States Senate after John Kerry had been confirmed as Secretary of State but was ultimately passed for Mo Cowan.
Early life, education, and early career
Frank was born Barnett Frank in Bayonne, New Jersey, one of four children of Elsie (née Golush) and Samuel Frank. His family was Jewish, and his grandparents had immigrated from Poland and Russia. Frank’s father ran a Jersey City truck stop—a place Frank has described as “totally corrupt”—and when Frank was 6 or 7, served a year in prison for refusing to testify to a grand jury against Frank’s uncle.
Frank was educated at Harvard College, where he resided in Matthews Hall his first year and then in Kirkland House and Winthrop House, graduating in 1962. Frank’s undergraduate studies were interrupted by the death of his father, and Frank took a year off to help resolve the family’s affairs prior to his graduation. In 1964, he was a volunteer in Mississippi during Freedom Summer. He taught undergraduates at Harvard while studying for a PhD in Government, but left in 1968 before having completed the degree, to become Boston mayor Kevin White’s Chief Assistant, a position he held for three years. He then served for a year as Administrative Assistant to Congressman Michael J. Harrington. Frank later graduated from Harvard Law School, in 1977, where he was once a student of Henry Kissinger, while serving as Massachusetts State Representative.
In 1972, Frank was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives where he served for eight years. He made a name for himself in the mid-1970s as a political defender of the Combat Zone, Boston’s notorious red light district. Neighborhoods in Frank’s district bordered the Combat Zone. As a means of dealing with crime in the area (including violence, police corruption and the infiltration by organized crime), he introduced a bill into the Massachusetts General Court that would have legalized the sex-for-hire business but kept it quarantined in a red light district, which would have been moved to Boston’s Financial District.
The bill, which had the support of Boston’s Police Commissioner, never came up for a vote. Later, when Frank was running for Congress, opponents erroneously portrayed him as having attempted to permit red-light districts in all Bay State communities.
In 1979, Frank was admitted to the bar in Massachusetts. While in state and local government, he taught, part-time, at the University of Massachusetts Boston, the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and at Boston University. He published numerous articles on politics and public affairs; in 1992, he published Speaking Frankly, an essay on the role the Democratic Party should play in the 1990s.
U.S. House of Representatives - Elections
In 1980, Frank ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 4th congressional district, hoping to succeed Father Robert Drinan, who had left Congress, following a call by Pope John Paul II for priests to withdraw from political positions. In the Democratic primary held on September 16, 1980, Frank won 52% of the vote in a four-candidate field. As the Democratic nominee, he faced Republican Richard A. Jones in the general election and won narrowly, 52%–48%.
For his first term, Frank represented a district in the western and southern suburbs of Boston, anchored by Brookline and his hometown of Newton. However, in 1982, redistricting forced him to run against Republican Margaret Heckler, who represented a district centered on the South Coast, including Fall River and New Bedford. Although the newly configured district retained Frank’s district number—the 4th—it was geographically more Heckler's district. Frank focused on Heckler's initial support for President Ronald Reagan's tax cuts, and won with 60% of the vote.
Frank did not face another serious race again for a quarter-century. From 1984 to 2008, he won re-election 12 times with at least 67% of the vote.
In 2010, Frank ran for his 16th term. Public opinion polling showed him facing his first credible challenge since defeating Heckler in 1982. His opponent was Republican Sean Bielat, a U.S. Marine veteran and businessman. In mid-September, an internal poll showed Frank leading 48%–38%. In late October, he loaned his campaign $200,000. In early October, the Cook Political Report changed its assessment of the district from “solid Democratic” to “likely Democratic”—meaning that while Frank was favored, a victory by Bielat could not be entirely ruled out. While Frank had a 3-to-1 advantage in terms of cash on hand, Bielat outraised him in September. On October 25, a Boston Globe survey showed Frank leading 46%–33%. Bielat released a TV ad showing Frank dancing under a disco ball, with the message that he was "dancing around the issues." Frank won re-election to his 16th term, 54%–43%.
On November 28, 2011, Frank announced at a news conference that he would not seek re-election in 2012.
In the wake of the fiscal cliff legislation at the start of 2013, Frank stated that he was interested in the interim appointment that Governor Deval Patrick is expected to make to fill John Kerry's U.S. Senate seat once the latter resigns to serve as United States Secretary of State. Frank had initially said he was not interested in the seat, but went on to change his mind, noting that "that [fiscal cliff] deal now means that February, March, and April are going to be among the most important months in American financial history". He has said he will not run in the special election which will be held to fill the seat for the remainder of Kerry's term. At the end of January 2013, Governor Patrick named associate William Cowan to the seat for the interim term.
According to Stuart Weisberg's 2009 biography Barney Frank: The Story of America's Only Left-Handed, Gay, Jewish Congressman, Frank dated women in an effort to deny his homosexuality. His last romance with a woman was a nearly two-year long affair with Irish-American Catholic Kathleen Sullivan, the daughter of New England Patriots owner Billy Sullivan, that began in 1974. When the two split up, at Frank's instigation, he admitted to her that he was gay. He was still closeted publicly.
According to Frank, he "realized it was crazy" to try to have a romance with someone he cared for but was not compatible with due to his homosexuality. "That was the last effort to avoid being gay," Weisberg quotes Frank as saying. Frank never again dated a woman.
Frank started coming out as gay to friends before he ran for Congress and came out publicly on May 30, 1987, "prompted in part by increased media interest in his private life" and the death of Stewart McKinney, "a closeted bisexual Republican representative from Connecticut"; Frank told The Washington Post after McKinney's death there was "An unfortunate debate about 'Was he or wasn't he? Didn't he or did he?' I said to myself, I don't want that to happen to me." Frank's announcement had little impact on his electoral prospects. Shortly after coming out, Frank met and began dating Herb Moses, an economist and LGBT activist; their relationship lasted for eleven years until an amicable break-up in July 1998. Moses, who was an executive at Fannie Mae from 1991 to 1998, was the first partner of an openly gay member of Congress to receive spousal benefits and the two were considered "Washington's most powerful and influential gay couple."
Frank resides in a studio apartment complex in Newton, Massachusetts. His husband, Jim Ready, is a surfing enthusiast whom Frank met during a gay political fundraiser in Maine, where Ready still lives.
As of 2010, Frank's net worth is estimated by the Center for Responsive Politics to be between $619,024 and $1,510,000. His sister, Ann Lewis, served as a senior adviser in Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign.
On July 7, 2012, Frank married his longtime partner James Ready at Boston Marriott Newton in suburban Boston.
February 12, 2013