ENG: Steven R. "Steve" Rothman (born October 14, 1952) is an American politician from the state of New Jersey. He is a former U.S. Representative for New Jersey's 9th congressional district, serving from January 3, 1997 to January 3, 2013. He is a member of the Democratic Party. He was defeated on June 5, 2012 in a primary election by fellow incumbent Bill Pascrell.
Early life, education, and pre-congressional career
Rothman was born on October 14, 1952, in Englewood, New Jersey, and grew up in nearby Tenafly, where he graduated from Tenafly High School in 1970.
He earned a B.A. degree in 1974 from Syracuse University, where he majored in Political Philosophy and was awarded a J.D. degree from the Washington University School of Law in 1977. He worked as an attorney from 1978 to 1993. He served two terms as Mayor of Englewood, from 1983 to 1989, and served as a Surrogate Court judge in Bergen County from 1993 to 1996.
U.S. House of Representatives - Elections - 1996
In 1996, incumbent Democrat U.S. Representative Robert Torricelli of the 9th congressional district decided to run for the United States Senate that was being vacated by Bill Bradley, creating a vacancy in the house seat. Rothman decided to run for the seat and won the Democratic primary with 79% of the vote, defeating Robert M. Gordon with 17% and Lynne Athay Dow who received 3% of the vote. In the general election, he defeated Republican County Clerk Kathleen Donovan 56.6%-42.2%, with two independent candidates taking up the remainder of the vote.
Rothman won re-election to a second term, defeating Mayor Steve Lonegan of Bogota, New Jersey 64.6%-33.8%, with three independent candidates receiving less than 2% of the vote.
During this time period, he won re-election every two years with at least a 36 point margin.
Rothman's 2008 re-election campaign raised eyebrows when it spent $1.3 million in a race against a little-known, poorly funded Republican challenger, including outlays of $59,000 in campaign funds to buy outright a hybrid SUV and $15,000 for a lavish party at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver. Rothman's Chief of Staff at the time, Robert Decheine, acknowledged to the news media that Rothman's 2008 re-election campaign had spent no money on advertising or direct mail.
He defeated Republican Vince Micco 68%-31%.
In addition to Decheine's annual salary on Rothman's government payroll - which was $168,408 in the last full year it was publicly reported before Decheine's November 2010 termination following his arrest on charges of soliciting sex from a minor - he drew tens of thousands of dollars in pay from Rothman's various campaign funds.
In 2009, the Rothman campaign reported to the Federal Election Commission that one of its credit cards had been stolen and used to run up thousands of dollars in unauthorized charges at a motel in Bethesda, Maryland, mostly to rent videos and order pizzas. Decheine was quoted by Politico as saying, “Steve never stayed there; I never stayed there; so we quickly discovered it was fraud.”
He defeated Republican Michael Agosta 61%-38%, his slimmest margin of victory since his first election in 1996.
After redistricting, Rothman's hometown of Fair Lawn, New Jersey was placed in New Jersey's Fifth District, which is represented by Republican Scott Garrett. Instead of attempting to defeat the incumbent in his district, Rothman elected to continue serving the Ninth District. To this effect, he moved back to Englewood so he could stay in the district, which with redistricting put him in a primary race with fellow Democratic Representative Bill Pascrell of Paterson. Rothman currently represents 53% of the new 9th, as Pascrell represents 43% of the CD.
Rothman had been endorsed by Hudson County Democratic Chairman Mark Smith and Bergen County Democratic Chairman Lou Stellato. Pascrell defeated him 61%-39%.
Rothman's candidacy in the 2012 primary race reportedly devolved into a highly competitive proxy war over Israel, between the state’s pro-Israel community and a growing constituency of Arab voters who have accused a sitting congressman of putting Israel’s interests before America’s. Aref Assaf, president of the New Jersey-based American Arab Forum, published a column in the Newark Star Ledger titled, “Rothman is Israel’s Man in District 9” in which he wrote:
“As total and blind support becomes the only reason for choosing Rothman, voters who do not view the elections in this prism will need to take notice. Loyalty to a foreign flag is not loyalty to America’s [flag].”
Arabic-language campaign posters produced by Pascrell supporters reportedly encouraged the “Arab diaspora community” to elect Pascrell, “the friend of the Arabs.” The poster touted the race as “the most important election in the history of the [Arab American] community.”
Susan Rosenbluth, publisher of the New Jersey-based Jewish Voice and Opinion wrote that "a number of Arab-American constituents have come out with outrageous attacks on Rothman," and commented that "I haven’t heard a dual loyalty charge for years.” She also sharply criticized Pascrell for remaining silent and refusing to condemn the charges of dual loyalty.
In Congress, Rothman helped secure money for improving transportation and relieving highway congestion, improving local homeland security, police and firefighting technology, improving education, providing relief to the unemployed, and sponsoring a bill to stop large airplanes from taking off at Teterboro Airport because of the excessive noise in residential areas. Rothman is also credited for saving the New Jersey Meadowlands from urban construction and securing millions of dollars for the protection and study of the environment and wildlife.
He has consistently supported veterans' groups in New Jersey.
Rothman strongly opposed Former President George W. Bush's tax-cut plans, his health care issues, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge oil drilling plan, and various other Republican Party and Bush Administration backed plans. Rothman earned an F from the taxpayers advocacy organization National Taxpayers Union in 2004.
In September 2009, Rothman was criticized by the Center for Public Integrity, a non-partisan government watchdog organization, for his role in securing a $1.5 million earmark appropriation for a defense contracting firm that had hired his former employee Jeff Zucker as its lobbyist. Zucker contributed and raised thousands of dollars for Rothman's campaign fund. News accounts later reported that a witness in a federal corruption trial had offered testimony asserting that Rothman had written several letters supporting the clients of a lobbying firm co-owned by Dennis Oury, who subsequently pled guilty to the federal charges; Rothman had been one of the largest beneficiaries of Oury's campaign contributions in the years prior to Oury's conviction.
In October 2010, the New York Times reported the announcement by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that it was revoking an approval granted to an experimental patch purporting to heal injured knees, an approval that an F.D.A. report stated had been improperly granted in 2008 in part as a result of "extreme" and "unusual" political pressure mounted by Rothman and three other New Jersey legislators. Executives at the company that produced the patch, ReGen Biologics, which was based in Rothman's district in Hackensack, had contributed a total of $11,300 to his various campaign committees. The Times criticized Rothman by name in a stinging editorial describing the episode as "a shabby affair" that "shines much-needed light on the insidious ways that politicians can influence regulatory decisions — and the insidious influence of money in politics."
Rothman has a lifetime rating of 82.54% with Progressive Punch, which in 2006 ranked him as the 162nd most Progressive member of Congress. He is listed by Congress.org as the 107th most powerful person in the House of Representatives and the 104th most powerful Democrat. According to the National Journal, Rothman had a composite liberal score of 82 as of 2006.
Rothman was featured on Comedy Central's The Colbert Report, in Stephen Colbert's part nine of the "Better Know A District" segment, which highlighted Rothman and New Jersey's 9th District, and originally aired on January 12, 2006. In February 2010, Rothman announced $4.7 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Defense to train military medical professionals in bloodless medicine at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center.
In November 2010, Rothman's longtime Chief of Staff, Robert Decheine, was arrested in Gaithersburg, Maryland on charges of soliciting sex from someone who had allegedly identified "herself" to him over the Internet as a 15-year-old girl, but who in reality was a law enforcement agent in a sting operation organized by federal and local authorities. Rothman promptly fired Decheine after being informed of the arrest.
Steve Rothman has two children: John and Karen.
Rothman married the former Jennifer Anne Beckenstein on August 18, 2006, after having met her through the Jewish dating service JDate. The combined family resided in Fair Lawn, New Jersey.
On January 18, 2011, Rothman’s office announced his divorce from Jennifer Rothman.
February 8, 2013