ENG: William Todd Akin (born July 5, 1947) is the former U.S. Representative for Missouri's 2nd congressional district, serving from 2001 to 2013. He is a member of the Republican Party.
Born in New York City, Akin grew up in the Greater St. Louis area. After receiving his bachelor's degree from Worcester Polytechnic Institute at Massachusetts, Akin served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and worked in the private sector in the computer and steel industries.
In 1988, he was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives, and Akin would serve in the state house until being elected to the United States House of Representatives in 2000.
Akin won the 2012 Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat in a crowded field. Akin created controversy during his Senate race by stating that women who are victims of what he called "legitimate rape" rarely get pregnant. The comment led to widespread calls for him to withdraw from the Senate race. Akin apologized for his remarks and stated that he would continue his campaign.
He lost to Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill in the general election by a wide margin.
Early life, education, and business career
Akin was born in New York City, New York, and raised in the St. Louis, Missouri area. He is the son of Nancy Perry (née Bigelow) and Paul Bigelow Akin. Akin's father is a third-generation graduate of Harvard University who served as an officer in the Navy during World War II, and who later succeeded his own father, William Akin, as president of the Laclede Steel Corporation of St. Louis.
Todd's great-grandfather, Thomas Russell Akin, founded Laclede in 1911.
Akin graduated from the John Burroughs School, a private prep school in suburban St. Louis, and went on to attend Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts, earning a B.S. degree in engineering from WPI's School of Business in 1971.
Following his college graduation, Akin served as an engineer officer in the National Guard of the U.S. Army, then served in the Army Reserve until 1980. After leaving active duty, Akin worked as a salesman for IBM marketing large computer systems, and later went to work in management in the family steel business.
Akin earned a Master of Divinity degree in 1984 from Covenant Theological Seminary where he studied Greek, Hebrew and a socially conservative interpretation of the Christian scriptures.
He did not enter the ministry.
Akin is a longtime pro-life activist and former member of the board of Missouri Right to Life. He was arrested for trespass at least eight times between 1985 and 1988 while demonstrating against abortion in front of abortion clinics in Illinois and Missouri. He has said the protests were peaceful and he would not apologize for standing up for his beliefs. At the time of the arrests, he was using the name "William Akin"; after that period, when he ran for political office, it was as "Todd Akin".
Missouri House of Representatives - Elections
Akin was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in November 1988, running unopposed to represent District 85 which included Town and Country and much of West Saint Louis County. He won re-election in 1990 with 59% of the vote.
Due to re-districting, Akin represented District 86 from 1993 through 2000, never winning less than 66% of the vote.
Akin served as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee. During his 12 years in the state house, Akin advocated for homeschool rights, voted for carrying concealed weapons, voted against the parks and soils sales tax, and voted against the 1993 tax increase and education spending increase. Akin sponsored legislation to prohibit casino companies from contributing to Missouri state lawmakers. In 1995, he fought Democratic Governor Mel Carnahan over a bill providing state-funding for school nurses. Ultimately, the governor refused to sign the funding bill due to Akin's amendment which would have prohibited nurses from telling students about sources for information about abortion.
U.S. House of Representatives
Akin has represented Missouri's 2nd congressional district from January 2001 to December 2012. He was succeeded by Ann Wagner. The district includes western suburbs of St. Louis in St. Louis County and northwestern exurbs in St. Charles County.
In 2000, Akin ran in the Republican primary election to fill the House seat vacated by U.S. Representative Jim Talent, who was running for governor. Light voter turnout caused by heavy rains helped Akin win the tight, five-way primary by just 56 votes; he defeated two better-known candidates, former St. Louis County Executive Gene McNary and State Senator Franc Flotron. On the night he won the primary, Akin said, "My base will show up in earthquakes." He defeated Democratic State Senator Ted House in the general election, winning 55 percent of the vote. He never faced another contest as close, and was reelected five times. In 2010, Akin won re-election with 67.9% of the vote. He had been challenged for the seat by Democratic nominee Arthur Lieber, Libertarian nominee Steve Mosbacher, and write-in candidate Patrick M. Cannon. In 2012, Akin stepped down from his House seat to run for the US Senate. Due to controversial statements about rape, he only received 39.2% of the vote, although he was a favourite to win going into the race.
2012 U.S. Senate election
In mid-May 2011, Akin announced he would seek the Republican nomination in 2012 to unseat Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill. Other candidates in the August 2012 Republican primary included businessman John Brunner, author and business executive Mark Memoly, and former Missouri Treasurer Sarah Steelman. Despite losing some momentum and in a crowded field, Akin won the Republican nomination in the August 7 primary, 36% to 30% for his nearest challenger. In August 2012, National Journal named Akin one of "Ten Republicans to follow on Twitter".
Akin faced McCaskill and Libertarian nominee Jonathan Dine in the general election, losing to McCaskill after his controversial comments on rape lost him a great deal of support.
Home of record
In May 2011, questions were raised about Akin's official address for voting. According to the Associated Press and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Akin moved to Wildwood, in far western St. Louis County, sometime between 2007 and 2009, after he and his wife purchased a second home there. However, he continued to vote as a Town and Country resident, and signed a polling place logbook attesting to his living there in April 2011.
Controversial comments on rape and pregnancy
While making remarks on rape and abortion on August 19, 2012, Todd Akin made the claim that women victims of what he described as "legitimate rape" rarely experience pregnancy from rape. In an August 19, 2012 interview aired on St. Louis television station KTVI-TV, Todd Akin, the U.S. Representative for Missouri's 2nd congressional district and a candidate for the U.S. Senate seat held by Claire McCaskill, was asked his views on whether women who became pregnant due to rape should have the option of abortion. He replied:
Well you know, people always want to try to make that as one of those things, well how do you, how do you slice this particularly tough sort of ethical question. First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.
The comments from Akin almost immediately led to uproar, with the term "legitimate rape" being taken to imply belief in a view that some kinds of rape are "legitimate", or alternatively that the many victims who do become pregnant from rape are likely to be lying about their claim. His claims about the likelihood of pregnancy resulting from rape were widely seen as being based on long-discredited pseudoscience with experts seeing the claims as lacking any basis of medical validity. Akin was not the first to make such claims, but was perhaps one of the most prominent. While some voices such as Iowa congressman Steve King supported Akin, senior figures in both parties condemned his remarks and some Republicans called for him to resign. In the resulting furor, Akin received widespread calls to drop out of his Senate race from both Republicans and Democrats. Akin apologized after making the comment, saying he "misspoke", and he stated he planned to remain in the Senate race. This response was itself attacked by many commentators who saw the initial comments as representative of his long-held views, rather than an accidental gaffe.
The comment was widely characterized as misogynistic and recklessly inaccurate, with many commentators remarking on the use of the words "legitimate rape". Related news articles cited a 1996 article in an obstetrics and gynecology journal, which found that 5% of women who were raped became pregnant, which equaled about 32,000 pregnancies each year in the US alone. A separate 2003 article in the journal Human Nature estimated that rapes are twice as likely to result in pregnancies as consensual sex. (See also pregnancy from rape.)
The incident was seen as having an impact on Akin's senate race and the Republicans' chances of gaining a majority in the U.S. Senate, by making news in the week before the 2012 Republican National Convention and by "shift[ing] the national discussion to divisive social issues that could repel swing voters rather than economic issues that could attract them". Akin, along with a few other Republican candidates with controversial positions on rape, lost due to backlash from women voters.
Before the comments, Akin had been favored to win his race against McCaskill, but lost in November, attributed to backlash from women voters.
Akin married Lulli Boe, a graduate of Hollins University, in June 1975. The couple has six children. Lulli became a home schooling activist and all of the children were home-schooled. Three sons attended the Naval Academy and became officers in the Marines. One of his sons served in the assault on Fallujah, Iraq.
Akin enjoys playing guitar and singing gospel songs, and over the years, has dressed in Revolutionary War attire for Fourth of July celebrations.
Akin and his wife resided for many years in the Town and Country, Missouri home that he grew up in and that his father owned. When his father sought to subdivide the 8.5 acre property a few years ago, Akin moved to a house in Wildwood.
February 13, 2013