Donald W. Riegle, Jr.

Donald W. Riegle, Jr.
Donald Riegle
United States Senator
from Michigan
In office
December 30, 1976 – January 3, 1995
Preceded by Philip A. Hart
Succeeded by Spencer Abraham
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 7th district
In office
January 3, 1967 – December 30, 1976
Preceded by John C. Mackie
Succeeded by Dale Kildee
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
In office
Preceded by William Proxmire
Succeeded by Al D'Amato
Personal details
Born February 4, 1938 (1938-02-04) (age 73)
Flint, Michigan
Nationality American
Political party Republican (c.1956-1973)
Democratic (1973-present)
Spouse(s) Lori Hansen Riegle
Children Ashley Riegle
Allison Riegle
Alma mater University of Michigan-Flint
Western University
University of Michigan
Michigan State University
Harvard Law School
Harvard Business School
Religion Methodist

Donald Wayne Riegle Jr. (born February 4, 1938) is an American politician from Michigan, who served for five terms as a Representative and for three terms as a Senator.


Early life

He was born in Flint, Michigan and is a graduate of Flint Central High School. His father, Donald W. Riegle, Sr., was mayor of Flint, Michigan.

He attended University of Michigan-Flint and Western Michigan University and graduated from the University of Michigan (Class of 1960). He received an finance from Michigan State University (Class of 1961). Riegle completed required course work for doctoral studies in Business and Government Relations at the Harvard Business School, 1964-66 before leaving to run for Congress. He was employed by IBM as a financial analyst from 1961-64. Riegle served on the faculties of Michigan State University, Boston University, University of Southern California, and Harvard University.

Political life

In 1966, Riegle, then 28 years old and a moderate Republican, defeated incumbent Democratic U.S. Representative John C. Mackie to be elected from Michigan's 7th congressional district to the 90th Congress. He was subsequently re-elected as a Republican in the next three elections. In 1973, Riegle changed party affiliation to become a Democrat over differences with the Nixon Administration regarding the Vietnam War and civil rights. He was re-elected as a Democrat to the 94th Congress. He did not run for reelection to the House in 1976, but was instead elected to the U.S. Senate representing the state of Michigan for the term commencing January 3, 1977, defeating Richard H. Austin, among others, in the Democratic primary and Marvin Esch in the general election.

On December 30, 1976, before the new term began, Riegle resigned from the House and was appointed by the Governor to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Senator Philip A. Hart for the term ending January 3, 1977. He was reelected to the Senate in 1982 and again in 1988, this time with the largest Democratic vote in the history of the state. Riegle did not seek re-election in 1994.

He served as chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, 1989–1995. Riegle also served on the Senate Committee on Finance, where he served as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Health for Families and the Uninsured, the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources, where he served as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation,where he served as the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Science and Space, and was a member of the Senate Committee on Budget from 1979 to 1994.

In 1994, Riegle led an investigation of the illnesses being experienced by veterans of the Gulf War, using the jursidction of the Senate Banking Committee over "dual use" exports—materials and technology that could be converted to military use. The resulting investigative report to the Senate detailed at least three occasions on which U. S. military forces came into contact with chemical warfare agents that may have led to the development of Gulf War syndrome. Commonly referred to as the Riegle Report to the U.S. Senate, the report called for further government investigation and recourse for war veterans suffering from Gulf War syndrome.

While a U.S. senator, Riegle also achieved a degree of notoriety as a member of the "Keating Five." The Keating Five were five United States Senators accused of corruption in 1989, igniting a major political scandal as part of the larger Savings and Loan crisis of the late 1980s and early 1990s. The five senators, Riegle, Alan Cranston (Democrat of California), Dennis DeConcini (Democrat of Arizona), John Glenn (Democrat of Ohio), and John McCain (Republican of Arizona), were accused of improperly intervening in 1987 on behalf of Charles H. Keating, Jr., chairman of the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association, which was the target of a regulatory investigation by the Federal Home Loan Bank Board (FHLBB). The FHLBB subsequently backed off taking action against Lincoln.

Lincoln Savings and Loan collapsed in 1989, at a cost of over $3 billion to the federal government. Some 23,000 Lincoln bondholders were defrauded and many elderly investors lost their life savings. The substantial political contributions that Keating had made to each of the senators, totaling $1.3 million, attracted considerable public and media attention. After a lengthy investigation, the Senate Ethics Committee determined in 1991 that Alan Cranston, Dennis DeConcini, and Donald Riegle had substantially and improperly interfered with the FHLBB in its investigation of Lincoln Savings, with Cranston receiving a formal reprimand. Senators John Glenn and John McCain were cleared of having acted improperly but were criticized for having exercised "poor judgment". All five of the senators involved served out their terms.

Post elected office

He joined public relations firm APCO Worldwide in 2001 serving as Chairman of Government Relations in Washington, DC.

In 1972, he authored the best selling book,"O Congress," with Trevor Armbrister, Doubleday & Co., Inc. The book provides an inside look at the workings of Congress, Riegle's opposition to the Vietnam War, and his break with the Nixon White House.



United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
John C. Mackie
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 7th congressional district

Succeeded by
Dale Kildee
United States Senate
Preceded by
Philip A. Hart
United States Senator (Class 1) from Michigan
Served alongside: Robert P. Griffin, Carl Levin
Succeeded by
Spencer Abraham
Political offices
Preceded by
William Proxmire
Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee
Succeeded by
Al D'Amato

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