Spencer Thomas Bachus III (born December 28, 1947) is the U.S. Representative for Alabama's 6th congressional district, serving since 1993. He is a member of the Republican Party and the senior member of the Alabama U. S. House delegation. The district includes most of the wealthier portions of Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, along with most of their suburbs.
Bachus was born in Birmingham to Edith Wells and Spencer Thomas Bachus, Jr.
He currently lives in Vestavia Hills, a Birmingham suburb. He graduated from Auburn University in 1969 where he became a member of the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity. He served in the Alabama National Guard from 1969 to 1971, during the Vietnam War, while attending law school; he earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Alabama Law School in 1972. Prior to his political career, he owned a sawmill and practiced law until 1992. Bachus and his wife Linda are the parents of five children.
Bachus was elected to the Alabama Senate in 1982, but served only one year as new legislative elections were scheduled for 1983 when the existing district lines were declared unconstitutional.
He then was elected to a seat in 1983 in the Alabama House of Representatives serving one three-year term. In 1986, he was elected as the first Republican on The Alabama State Board of Education serving just one four-year term from the 6th District. In 1990, he ran unsuccessfully for attorney general of Alabama. He became chairman of the Alabama Republican Party in 1991, serving in that position until his campaign for election to Congress.
Bachus has a mostly, but not totally, conservative voting record, and has been an aggressive lawmaker and investigator. During his tenure as Chairman of the Banking Oversight Committee, he uncovered the Community Development Financial Institute (CDFI) incident during the Clinton administration, which led to the resignation of the top two CDFI officials.
Although less adversarial during the Bush administration, he has remained an active legislator, helping to amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act to curtail identity theft and ease consumer access to their credit reports. He also has a reputation for good constituent service. On November 4, 1999, Bachus voted in favor of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which some economists, including Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, believe helped create the 2007 financial crisis. On December 14, 2005 he voted for the reauthorization of the U.S. Patriot Act. On June 29, 2005 he voted for the increase of funds by another $25 million for anti-marijuana print a TV ads. On October 6, 2005 he voted for the Department of Homeland Security. Bachus is a staunch advocate of a federal prohibition of online poker. In 2006, he cosponsored H.R. 4411, the Goodlatte-Leach Internet Gambling Prohibition Act and H.R. 4777, the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act. In 2008, he opposed H.R. 5767, the Payment Systems Protection Act (a bill that sought to place a moratorium on enforcement of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act while the U.S. Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve defined "unlawful Internet gambling"). In the 1990s he became an advocate of international debt relief for the Third World, and joined a broad coalition of activists in a one-day fast to demand action, which was ultimately successful. He criticized the Bush administration in 2002 over negotiations with the genocidal regime in Sudan, and has urged Bush to stop payment of oil revenues to the Sudanese government. In 2005, Bill Maher commented about the Army missing its recruiting goal by 42 percent in April, saying, "More people joined the Michael Jackson fan club. We've done picked all the low-lying Lynndie England fruit, and now we need warm bodies." Bachus responded to Maher's comments, saying "I think it borders on treason. In treason, one definition is to undermine the effort or national security of our country." Bachus also has been active in advancing the search for Natalee Holloway, who went missing while on a senior trip to Aruba. Holloway attended high school in Mountain Brook, an affluent Birmingham suburb in the congressman's district. Bachus is also a current signer of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.
The 6th District and its predecessors had been based in Birmingham for over a century, but after the 1990 United States Census, the Justice Department required the state to have a black-majority district. The state legislature failed to act, and a federal court drafted a plan that significantly reconfigured both the 6th District and the neighboring 7th District. The new map shifted most of the predominantly black portions of Birmingham (which is over 60 percent black) to the 7th, which had been based in Tuscaloosa for over a century. In the process, however, the court plan shifted most of the whiter and wealthier portions of Tuscaloosa to the 6th. Also added was Shelby County, a wealthy suburban county near Birmingham. The new 6th was almost 97% white, and on paper was one of the most Republican districts in the nation. By comparison, the old 6th was about 35 percent black. Bachus immediately jumped into the race. Despite being state party chairman, he only won 39 percent of the vote in the five-candidate primary and was forced into a runoff with party activist Marty Connors. In the runoff, however, Bachus won handily with 59 percent of the vote. Bachus then moved to the general election against five-term Democratic incumbent Ben Erdreich. Although Erdreich outspent Bachus by more than 2 to 1, he could not overcome the new district's heavy Republican tilt, as well as the fact that he was running in territory he did not know and that did not know him. Ultimately, Bachus defeated Erdreich by seven points. George H. W. Bush carried the new 6th with a staggering 71 percent of the vote, proving just how Republican this reconfigured district was. Since 1992, Bachus has been reelected seven times without anything resembling serious opposition. After defeating three underfunded Democrats with 70% or more of the vote, he has not faced any Democratic opposition at all since 2000. John McCain carried the district in 2008 with 77 percent of the vote, his highest percentage in the nation. Bachus was challenged in the 2004 Republican primary by Phillip Jauregui, a member of former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore's legal team. Since no other party ran a candidate, victory in the Republican primary was tantamount to election in November. Jauregui claimed that Bachus wasn't doing enough to curb "judicial activism." However, Bachus won the primary easily, effectively clinching a seventh term. In the 2010 midterm elections Bachus easily turned back a challenge from tea party activist Stan Cooke in the Republican primary, winning 75 percent of the vote. For the fourth election in a row, no other party even put up a candidate, assuring Bachus of a 10th term.
August 16th, 2011