Peter Anderson Sessions (born March 22, 1955) is a politician from the state of Texas. He is a Republican, and currently represents the 32nd congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is the current Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Sessions was born in Waco, Texas, where he grew up. His father is William S. Sessions, the former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
He graduated from Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas in 1978. Sessions then worked for Southwestern Bell for 16 years. He rose to the rank of district manager for marketing in Dallas, supervising 435 employees and managing a $16 million budget. He also worked at Bell Communications Research (AKA Bellcore, currently named Telcordia Technologies) in New Jersey.
He is an Eagle Scout with four generations of Boy Scouts in his family, and recipient of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award from the Boy Scouts of America, as well as a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity. As a Congressman, Sessions has sponsored legislation to raise money for the Boy Scouts.
At the 2007 National Convention, Sessions was presented with the Pi Kappa Alpha Distinguished Alumni Award.
Sessions and his wife Juanita have two sons, Bill (age 21), who is also a member of Pi Kappa Alpha, and Alex (age 16). The Dallas Morning News reported on July 15, 2011 that Sessions and his wife "decided to separate after much thought and discussion."
Congressman Sessions has led congressional efforts to recognize the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America by introducing a "100 Years of Scouting" commemorative coin that will be released in 2010. In 2008, President George W. Bush signed H.R. 5872 entitled, the Boy Scouts of America Centennial Commemorative Coin Act.
The bill calls for 350,000 $1 silver coins to be minted. The Boy Scouts of America has recognized Congressman Sessions as a Distinguished Eagle Scout. He currently holds a position on the Circle Ten Council of Boy Scouts of America. Both of the Congressman's sons are active in the Boy Scouts. Last year, Alex, who was born with Down Syndrome, joined the Order of the Arrow. Congressman Sessions received the Vigil Honor, the highest achievement in the OA from the Mikanakawa Lodge, Order of the Arrow, in April 2008.
U.S. House of Representatives
In his 1991 election bid, Sessions finished third in a special election for the House of Representatives.
In 1993, Sessions left his job with Southwestern Bell to again run for Congress, against 5th District incumbent Democrat John Bryant. Sessions made a tour of the district with a livestock trailer full of horse manure, claiming that the Clinton administration's health care plan stank more than the manure. Sessions lost by 2,400 votes. He subsequently became Vice President for Public Policy at the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), a Dallas-based conservative public policy research institute.
In 1996, when Bryant decided to seek a Senate seat, Sessions was elected to succeed him in the 5th District, defeating Democrat John Pouland with 47 percent of the vote.
Sessions was re-elected in 1998, defeating school teacher Victor Morales with 56 percent of the vote. He was re-elected in 2000 with 54 percent of the vote against Regina Montoya Coggins.
When redistricting after the 2000 Census made the 5th slightly more Democratic, Sessions moved to the new 32nd District for the 2002 election. He won that with 68 percent of the vote over Pauline Dixon.
In 2004, Sessions defeated fellow Congressman Martin Frost, a 13-term Democrat, who had moved to the 32nd after the Republican-engineered redistricting in 2003 eliminated Frost's former district. Sessions won 54-44%, in what was considered the most expensive U.S. House race in the nation. According to the Associated Press, "The race also was one of the nastiest, with Frost unearthing a decades-old streaking incident by Sessions in his college days and questioning Sessions' commitment to security with an ad featuring the World Trade Center towers in flames. Sessions criticized Frost for booking Peter Yarrow of the 1960s group Peter, Paul and Mary for a fundraiser. Yarrow had faced an indecency with a child charge years earlier."
In March 2010, Sessions faced David Smith in a primary election. Sessions' opponent, David Smith, is a businessman that ran partly due to the votes Sessions has cast over the years. Smith's campaign has focused on Sessions' support of the bailouts, increased federal spending, and Sessions being voted as one of the most corrupt representatives in Congress. Sessions has faced over the years numerous ethics complaints which included, among others, holding a fundraiser at a Las Vegas strip club. Sessions then faced noted Dallas businessman and attorney Grier Raggio in the general election.
Sessions failed to pass the "Preserving Innovation in Telecom Act of 2005" (HR2726), which would have prohibited state and local governments from offering internet access services. However, questions have been raised about Sessions's partiality toward the telecom industry: According to Sessions' House financial disclosure forms from 2003, he has between $500,000 and $1 million in AT&T stock options, and his wife worked for Cingular, which was jointly owned by AT&T at the time and has since folded into AT&T. The Sunlight Foundation pointed out in 2008 that among the 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Sessions has the sixth-highest amount of investment in oil stocks.
Connections to Abramoff
In late 2001 and early 2002, Sessions cosigned letters to two Cabinet members asking them to shut down casinos operated by several Native American tribes. Within 18 months of sending the letters, Sessions received a total of $20,500 from tribes associated with Jack Abramoff raising suspicion that Sessions had written the letters to curry favor with Abramoff as he represented a number of competing tribes. In response, the Sessions office said he wrote the letters because of his view that gambling is a local issue, falling under his long held support for federalism.
On January 11, 2002, Sessions traveled to Malaysia with two of Abramoff's co-workers from the law firm Greenberg Traurig. The trip allegedly was sponsored by the Institute of Strategic and International Studies and a Malaysian think tank with ties to that country’s government. Various news reports, however, suggest that a Malaysian client secretly paid Abramoff and Michael Scanlon, an Abramoff associate, through a sham think tank that Scanlon created, the American International Center. His office said that Sessions went on the trip to strengthen ties with an Islamic ally.
In early February 2009 he made the following comment about the Republican Party legislative strategy in the House of Representatives: "Insurgency, we understand perhaps a little bit more because of the Taliban," Sessions said during the 60-minute sitdown. "And that is that they went about systematically understanding how to disrupt and change a person's entire processes." He continued: "I'm not trying to say the Republican Party is the Taliban.... I'm saying an example of how you go about [it] is to change a person from their messaging to their operations to their frontline message. And we need to understand that insurgency may be required when the other side, the House leadership, does not follow the same commands, which we entered the game with."
In 2008, Sessions added a $1.6 million earmark to an appropriations bill, for dirigible research. The earmark benefitted a Chicago company, Jim G. Ferguson & Associates, which has no experience in government contracting or dirigible research. A former Sessions aide and convicted felon, Adrian Plesha is a lobbyist for the firm.
In September, Adrian Plesha sued Jim G. Ferguson & Associates for non-payment of fees and expenses connected with his lobbying effort on their behalf. The lawsuits mentions the dirigible research project, saying, "as a direct result of Plesha’s services in 2007 through 2008, Plesha was able to secure a $1.6 million appropriation for defendants in September 2008...".
Ties to Ponzi schemer Allen Stanford
Sessions has come under criticism for his strong personal ties to Ponzi schemer Allen Stanford. Records show that Sessions received over $44,000 in political contributions from Allen Stanford and his associates. Sessions also took multiple trips to the Caribbean to attend Stanford sponsored events. These trips included private travel for Sessions on Stanford's fleet of luxury jets, and accommodation in luxury resorts.
After Stanford was indicted on federal charges Sessions lied about his relationship with Stanford, and claimed he never knew the man. However, multiple pictures surfaced showing the two men together on multiple occasions in the Caribbean.
Illegal contributions from Wyly Brothers
On July 29, 2010 the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed fraud charges against brothers Samuel and Charles Wyly. The two brothers were charged with creating phony overseas accounts to illegally trade $750 million in stocks. Both brothers were two of the top Republican financial contributors in the country, and gave Pete Sessions nearly $30,000 during his time in the United States Congress.
In September 2010, Sessions remarked after watching the Princeton University men's basketball team, "How often can you go see a bunch of white guys play basketball?" He also reportedly said that the players stayed entirely below the rim. The comments were described as an allusion to the phrase "White Men Can't Jump", and were labeled as inappropriate by New Jersey Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell.
Less than two weeks after his "white guys" comments Sessions made derogatory comments about African-American support for Democratic candidates.
Countrywide Financial loan
In January 2012, it was reported that Sessions received a so-called "VIP" or "Friends of Angelo" loan in 2007 from troubled mortgage lender Countrywide Financial, in which loans were granted at lower interest rates than were available to the public. Former Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo created the program to boost the company's standing with politicians, celebrities and well-connected business figures. The congressman received a $1 million loan from Countrywide at below-market rates, which he never declared in financial disclosures. Sessions as well as names of other legislators who received similar loans were subsequently referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform as part of an ethics investigation into improper gifts.
Sessions faced well-known Dallas businessman and attorney Grier Raggio and Libertarian John Jay Myers in 2010. The election was initially named as one of the top dark horse battles in the country. Anti-Democratic sentiment rose nationwide throughout 2010, however, and Sessions won re-election easily.
Febryary 21st, 2012