Historical records matching Alan K. Simpson, U.S. Senator
About Alan K. Simpson, U.S. Senator
Alan Kooi Simpson (born September 2, 1931) is an American politician who served from 1979 to 1997 as a United States Senator from Wyoming as a member of the Republican Party. His father, Milward L. Simpson, was also a member of the U.S. Senate from Wyoming (1962–1967) and a former Governor of Wyoming (1955–1959) as well. Simpson was appointed in 2010 to co-chair President Barack Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform with co-chair Erskine Bowles.
Simpson was born in Denver, Colorado, the son of Lorna (née Kooi) and politician Milward L. Simpson. His middle name, "Kooi", comes from his maternal grandfather, whose parents were Dutch immigrants. As a young man, Simpson was a Boy Scout, and visited Japanese American Boy Scouts who, along with their families, had been interned near Ralston Wyoming during World War II. There, he developed a friendship with Norman Mineta, who later became a U.S. Congressman and cabinet member. They served together in Congress and on the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution, and remain close friends.
One of Simpson's babysitters as a young boy was the future Lieutenant Governor and Education Superintendent of Louisiana, William J. "Bill" Dodd, who played baseball for a time as a young man in Cody with teammate Milward Simpson.
Yet, Simpson's youth was clearly not all baseball games and scout jamborees. In a recent brief in support of the claimant in the Supreme Court case, Graham v. Florida, Simpson admitted that as a juvenile he was on federal probation for shooting mailboxes and punched a cop and—in his own words—“was a monster.”
Alan Simpson graduated from Cody High School in Cody, Wyoming, in 1949 and attended Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, in 1950 for a postgraduate year. He graduated from the University of Wyoming in 1954 with a Bachelor of Science degree and in 1958 with a Juris Doctor degree. In 1954 he married Susan Ann Schroll, who was a fellow student at the University of Wyoming. He served in the United States Army in Germany from 1955–1956 with the 10th Infantry Regiment, Fifth Infantry Division and with the 12th Armored Infantry Battalion, Second Armored Division.
He was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity at the University of Wyoming.
Run-ins with the law
Simpson had several run-ins with the law during his youth. A "friend of the Court" brief filed before the United States Supreme Court in the juvenile imprisonment cases Graham v. Florida and Sullivan v. Florida states:
In Simpson’s words to this Court, “I was a monster.”
One day in Cody, Wyoming, when Simpson was in high school, he and some friends “went out to do damage.” They went to an abandoned war relocation structure and decided to “torch” it. They committed arson on federal property, a crime now punishable by up to twenty years in prison if no one is hurt, and punishable by up to life in prison if the arson causes a person’s death. Luckily for Simpson, no one was injured in the blaze.
Simpson not only played with fire, but also with guns. He played a game with his friends in which they shot at rocks close to one another, at times using bullets they stole from the local hardware store. The goal of the game was to come as close as possible to striking someone without actually doing so. Again, Simpson was lucky: no one was killed or seriously injured.
Simpson and his friends went shooting throughout their community. They fired their rifles at mailboxes, blowing holes in several and killing a cow. They fired their weapons at a road grader. “We just raised hell,” Simpson says. Federal authorities charged Simpson with destroying government property and Simpson pleaded guilty. He received two years of probation and was required to make restitution from his own funds – funds that he was supposed to obtain by holding down a job.
... As he [Simpson] has described it, “The older you get, the more you realize . . . your own attitude is stupefying, and arrogant, and cocky, and a miserable way to live.”
Simpson stated;"I was just dumb and rebellious and stupid. And a different person." And then added;"You're not who are when you're 16 or 18. You're dumb, and you don't care and you think you are eternal."
Wyoming House of Representatives
Simpson served more than a decade in the Wyoming House of Representatives, from 1964 to 1977.
Simpson was elected to the U.S. Senate on November 7, 1978, but was appointed to the post early on January 1, 1979, following the resignation of Clifford P. Hansen. From 1985 to 1995, Simpson was the Republican whip, Assistant Republican Leader in the Senate, having served with then Republican Leader Bob Dole of Kansas. He was chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee from 1981 to 1985 and again from 1995 to 1997 when Republicans regained control of the Senate. He also chaired the Immigration and Refugee Subcommittee of Judiciary; the Nuclear Regulation Subcommittee; the Social Security Subcommittee and the Committee on Aging. In 1995, he lost the whip's job to Trent Lott of Mississippi, and he did not seek reelection to the Senate in 1996. From 1997 to 2000, Simpson taught at the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and served for two years as the Director of the Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School.
Simpson returned to his home of Cody and practices law there with his two lawyer sons (William and Colin) in the firm of Simpson, Kepler and Edwards. The three are also partners in the firm of Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh and Jardine of Englewood, Colorado. Colin Simpson, the third generation of his family in Wyoming politics, is a Republican member of the Wyoming House of Representatives and served as Speaker of the House for the 59th session of the Legislature, 2008 to March 2010. He was a candidate for Governor, finishing fourth in the primary in 2010.
After Congressional service
Alan Simpson teaches periodically at his alma mater – the University of Wyoming at Laramie – with his brother Pete. He has completed serving as chairman of the UW capital "Campaign for Distinction", which raised $204 million. That success was celebrated by the gala event, "An Extraordinary Evening", featuring former President George H.W. Bush (who had reportedly considered Simpson for the vice presidency in 1988) and Vice President Dick Cheney – another UW alumnus – and his wife Lynne V. Cheney.
Simpson serves on the Commission for Continuity in Government. He also serves as co-chairman of Americans for Campaign Reform with former Senate colleagues Bill Bradley of New Jersey, Warren Rudman of New Hampshire and Bob Kerrey of Nebraska; is active with the National Commission on Writing; is on the Advisory Board of Common Good (a legal reform coalition); is a former member of the American Battle Monuments Commission, and was a member of the Iraq Study Group.
Simpson's father, Milward Simpson, also served in the Senate and voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Alan Simpson has been an outspoken advocate for access to abortion stating it is a horrible situation but a deeply intimate and personal decision and should not be a political issue in a party that believes in "government out of our lives" and "the right to be left alone" and "the precious right of privacy". He supports gay and lesbian rights, and equality for all persons regardless of race, color, creed, gender, or sexual orientation. In an article in the Washington Post, the former senator wrote an article criticizing the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy stating "'Gay' is an artificial category that says little about a person. Our differences and prejudices pale next to our historic challenge."
In 2001, Simpson became Honorary Chairman of the Republican Unity Coalition (RUC), a gay/straight alliance within the Republican Party. In this capacity, Simpson personally recruited President Gerald R. Ford to serve on the RUC's Advisory Board.
In 2002, Simpson was involved in the Republican gubernatorial primary on behalf of former Democrat Eli Bebout of Riverton. Simpson criticized Bebout's principal challengers Raymond Breedlove Hunkins of Wheatland, and Bill Sniffen of Lander in Fremont County. Bebout defeated the two but then lost the general election to the Democratic nominee David Duane "Dave" Freudenthal, a former United States Attorney appointed by President Bill Clinton.
Simpson is an Honorary Board Member of the humanitarian organization Wings of Hope.
In 2006, Simpson was one of ten member (five Democratic and five Republican) contributors to the Iraq Study Group Report.
Simpson was appointed in 2010 to co-chair President Barack Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform with co-chair Erskine Bowles.
In popular culture
The June 7, 1994, edition of the now-defunct supermarket tabloid Weekly World News reported that 12 U.S. Senators were aliens from other planets, including Simpson. The Associated Press ran a follow-up piece which confirmed the tongue-in-cheek participation of Senate offices in the story. Then-Senator Simpson's spokesman Charles Pelkey, when asked about Simpson's galactic origins, told the AP: "We've got only one thing to say: Klaatu barada nikto." This was a reference to the 1951 science fiction classic film, The Day the Earth Stood Still, in which an alien arrives by flying saucer in Washington, D.C.
Simpson also played himself in a cameo appearance for the 1993 film Dave. He authored a book,"Right in the Old Gazoo--a lifetime of scrapping with the Press"-William Morrow and Company,Inc.(1997).
Right in the Old Gazoo: A Lifetime of Scrapping with the Press (William Morrow & Company, 1997, ISBN 0-688-11358-3)