Christine Todd Whitman

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Christine Whitman (Todd)

Also Known As: "Christie"
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Webster Bray Todd and Eleanor Prentice Todd
Widow of John Russell Whitman
Mother of <private> Annis (Whitman)

Occupation: Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Christine Todd Whitman

Christine Todd "Christie" Whitman (born September 26, 1946) is an American Republican politician and author who served as the 50th Governor of New Jersey from 1994 to 2001, and was the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in the administration of President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2003. She was New Jersey's first, and to date, only female governor. She was the second woman and first Republican woman to defeat an incumbent governor in a general election in the United States. She was also the first Republican woman to be reelected governor.

Early life, education, and family

Whitman was born in New York City and grew up in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, the daughter of Eleanor Prentice Todd (née Schley) and Webster B. Todd, both interested in New Jersey Republican politics. She attended Far Hills Country Day School and the Chapin School in Manhattan. She graduated from Wheaton College in 1968, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in government. After graduating, she worked on Nelson Rockefeller's presidential campaign.

Whitman is a descendant of two New Jersey political families, the Todds and the Schleys, and related by marriage to New York's politically-active Whitmans. She is married to John R. Whitman, a private equity investor. They have two children. She is the granddaughter-in-law of former Governor of New York Charles S. Whitman. Her maternal grandfather, Reeve Schley, was a member of Wolf's Head Society at Yale and the vice president of Chase Bank when it indeed had only one vice president. He was also a longtime president of the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce.

Whitman's daughter Kate has followed her mother into politics. Most recently, Kate Whitman ran for the 2008 Republican nomination for New Jersey's 7th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, placing second in a primary field of seven candidates with about 20 percent of the vote. Previously, Kate Whitman served as press secretary for Craig Benson’s 2002 gubernatorial campaign in New Hampshire, and later, communications director for the New Hampshire Republican State Committee. She also was a Congressional aide and in 2007, she was named executive director of the Republican Leadership Council, her mother's organization which promotes moderate Republicanism. Kate Whitman made news in 1998 at the age of 21, while her mother was governor, when she was cited by police in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania for littering.

Whitman also has a Scottish Terrier named Coors, who is the mother of former president Bush's dog Barney.

Whitman has been a resident of Tewksbury Township, New Jersey.

Early career

During the Nixon administration, Whitman worked in the Office of Economic Opportunity under the leadership of Donald Rumsfeld. She conducted a national outreach tour for the Republican National Committee, was Deputy Director of the New York State Office in Washington, and worked on aging issues for the Nixon campaign and administration.[citation needed]

She was appointed to the Board of Trustees of Somerset County College (now Raritan Valley Community College). Elected to two terms on the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders, she served as Deputy Director and Director of the Board. Among her accomplishments as freeholder was construction of a new county courthouse.

From 1988 to 1990 she served as President of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities in the cabinet of Gov. Thomas Kean.

In 1990, Whitman ran for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Bill Bradley, and lost a close election. She was considered a longshot candidate against the popular Bradley. During her campaign, Whitman criticized the income tax hike proposed by then Gov. James Florio, which Bradley did not take a stance on.

In 1993, Whitman helped to found the Committee for Responsible Government (CRG), a political advocacy group espousing moderate positions in the Republican Party. (In 1997, the CRG softened its pro-choice stance and renamed itself the Republican Leadership Council.)

Governor of New Jersey

Whitman ran against incumbent James Florio for governor in 1993, and defeated him by one percentage point to become the first female governor in New Jersey history. She was the second woman and first Republican woman to defeat an incumbent governor in a general election, but was unable to gain a majority of the votes, winning by a plurality. Charges of suppression of minority votes were raised during this campaign.

Whitman used as a campaign issue that she would lower state taxes by 10% per year for three years, a campaign promise she kept. Whitman successfully lowered income taxes in New Jersey. The results led to an initial decline in the overall tax burden and suggested that the long-term NJ property tax issue could be addressed. Jim Saxton, in a report to the US congress, argued that New Jersey's income tax cuts improved "the well-being of the New Jersey family" and would not lead to increased property taxes. Saxton cited Tim Goodspeed's research and a recent paper published by the Manhattan Institute. He admitted that "a few localities raised [property] taxes," which Goodspeed expected, but both counted on the flypaper effect to mitigate any widespread or persistent increases. These would emerge later. However, the loss of state revenues created a long term revenue shortfall that could not be easily reversed and subsequent governors were unable to offset the huge cumulative revenue losses as well as interest accumulation. Such deficits were offset by bond issues that have a time bomb effect of the financial status of the state.

In 1995, Whitman came under criticism after she said that young African-American males sometimes played a game known as Jewels in the Crown, which she claimed had as its intent having as many children as possible out of wedlock. Whitman apologized for making the remark and voiced her opposition to attempts by Congressional Republicans to bar unwed teenage mothers from receiving welfare payments.

In 1996, Whitman joined a New Jersey State Police patrol in Camden, New Jersey. During the patrol, the officers stopped a 16-year-old African American male named Sherron Rolax, and frisked him. After the police found nothing on him, Whitman also frisked the youth while a state trooper photographed her. In 2000, the image of the smiling governor frisking Rolax was published in newspapers statewide, which drew criticism from civil rights leaders who saw the incident as a violation of Rolax's civil rights and an endorsement by Whitman of racial profiling – especially since Rolax was not arrested or found to be violating any law. Whitman told the press that she regretted the incident and pointed to her 1999 efforts against the New Jersey State Police force's racial profiling practices. In 2001, Rolax learned about the photograph and sued Whitman in federal court, claiming that the search was illegal and an invasion of privacy. The appeals court agreed that the acts did indeed suggest "an intentional violation" of Rolax's rights, and that he "was detained and used for political purposes by his governor," but upheld the trial court's decision that it was too late to sue.

In 1996, Whitman rejected her Advisory Council's recommendation to spend tax money on a needle exchange, in an effort to reduce the incidence of HIV infections.

Whitman was re-elected in 1997, narrowly defeating Jim McGreevey, the mayor of Woodbridge Township, who criticized her record on property taxes and automobile insurance rates. Though earlier considered a safe incumbent, Whitman duplicated her 1993 result with a one-point victory and a plurality of the votes. The governor's narrow margin of victory was credited in large part to the candidacy of conservative Republican and Ramapo College professor Murray Sabrin, who ran as a Libertarian. Sabrin finished third in the race with five percent of the vote, mostly from conservative Republicans who otherwise might have voted for the incumbent Whitman.

In 1997, she repealed the 7% sales tax her predecessor Governor Florio had imposed (rolling it back to 6%), instituted unspecified education reforms, and removed excise taxes on professional wrestling, which led the World Wrestling Federation to resume holding events in New Jersey. In 1999, Governor Whitman vetoed a bill that outlawed partial birth abortion; the veto was overridden, but the statute was later declared unconstitutional by the courts. In 1999 she also made a cameo appearance on the television show Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

In 1999, Whitman fired Colonel Carl A. Williams, head of the New Jersey State Police, after he was quoted noting that cocaine and marijuana traffickers were often members of minority groups, while the methaphetamine trade was controlled by primarily white biker gangs. The remarks about cocaine and marijuana traffickers were portrayed as racist.

In 2000, under Whitman's leadership, New Jersey's violations of the federal one-hour air quality standard for ground level ozone dropped to four from 45 in 1988. Beach closings reached a record low, and the state earned recognition by the Natural Resources Defense Council for instituting the most comprehensive beach monitoring system in the nation. Additionally, New Jersey implemented a new watershed management program and became the United States leader in opening shellfish beds for harvesting. Governor Whitman agreed to give tax money to owners of one million acres (4,000 km²) more of open space and farmland in New Jersey.

In 2000, when Democratic U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg announced his retirement, Whitman seriously considered being a candidate, but ultimately decided against running.

EPA Administrator

Whitman was appointed by President George W. Bush as Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, taking office on January 31, 2001.

In January 2001, the Clinton administration in its final weeks declared a new drinking water standard of 0.01 mg/L (10 parts per billion, or ppb) arsenic to take effect January 2006. The old drinking water standard of 0.05 mg/L (equal to 50 ppb) arsenic had been in effect since 1942, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had been studying the pros and cons of lowering the arsenic Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) since the late 1980s. The incoming Bush administration suspended the midnight regulation, but after some months of study, Whitman approved the new 10 ppb arsenic standard and its original effective date of January 2006.

Under Whitman's direction as the first director of the EPA under the Bush administration, in 2001 the EPA produced a report detailing the expected effects of global warming in each of the states in the United States. The report was dismissed by President Bush who called it the work of "the bureaucracy."

Whitman appeared twice in New York City after the September 11 attacks to inform New Yorkers that the toxins released by the attacks posed no threat to their health. On September 18, the EPA released a report in which Whitman said, "Given the scope of the tragedy from last week, I am glad to reassure the people of New York and Washington, D.C. that their air is safe to breathe and their water is safe to drink." She also said, "The concentrations are such that they don't pose a health hazard...We're going to make sure everybody is safe." Later, a 2003 report by the EPA's inspector general determined that such assurances were misleading, because the EPA "did not have sufficient data and analyses" to justify the assertions when they were made.

A report in July 2003 from the EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response gave extensive documentation supporting many of the inspector general's conclusions, and carried some of them still further. Further, the report found that the White House had "convinced EPA to add reassuring statements and delete cautionary ones" by having the National Security Council control EPA communications after the September 11 attacks. In December 2007, legal proceedings began in a case on the question of responsibility of government officials in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Whitman was among the defendants in the suit; plaintiffs in the suit allege that Whitman is at fault for saying that the downtown New York air was safe in the aftermath of the attacks. In April 2008, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit overruled the district court, holding that as EPA head Whitman could not be held liable for saying to World Trade Center area residents that the air was safe for breathing after the buildings collapse. The court said that Whitman had based her information on contradictory information and statements from President Bush. The U.S. Department of Justice had argued that holding the agency liable would establish a risky legal precedent because future public officials would be afraid to make public statements.

On June 27, 2003, after having several public conflicts with the Bush administration, Whitman resigned from her position to spend more time with her family.

In an interview in 2007, Whitman stated that Vice President Dick Cheney's insistence on easing air pollution controls, not the personal reasons she cited at the time, led to her resignation. At the time, he pushed the EPA to institute a new rule allowing large polluting plants to make major alterations without installing costly new pollution controls. Refusing to sign off on the new rule, Whitman announced her resignation. Whitman decided that President Bush should have an EPA administrator willing to defend the new rule in court, which she could not bring herself to do. Federal judges later overturned the new rule, saying it violated the Clean Air Act.

Subsequent career

In early 2005, Whitman released a book entitled It's My Party, Too: Taking Back the Republican Party... And Bringing the Country Together Again in which she criticizes the policies of the George W. Bush administration and its electoral strategy, which she views as divisive.

“ The defining feature of the conservative viewpoint is a faith in the ability, and a respect for the right, of individuals to make their own decisions - economic, social, and spiritual - about their lives. The true conservative understands that government's track record in respecting individual rights is poor when it dictates individual choices.”

She formed a political action committee called It's My Party Too (IMP-PAC), intended to help elect moderate Republicans at all levels of government. IMP-PAC is allied with the Republican Main Street Partnership, The Wish List, the Republican Majority for Choice, Republicans for Choice, Republicans for Environmental Protection and the Log Cabin Republicans. After the 2006 midterm elections, IMP-PAC was merged into RLC-PAC, the Republican Leadership Council's PAC.

Since 2003, Whitman has been a member of the Board of Directors for Texas Instruments and United Technologies.[38] Whitman is also co-chair of the CASEnergy Coalition, and in 2007, voiced support for a stronger future role of nuclear power in the United States.

During the 2008 presidential election, Whitman was touted by the media as a candidate for a Cabinet position under both Barack Obama and John McCain.

In December 2010, Whitman criticized 2008 Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin, commenting that if Palin were to run for President in 2012 and win the Republican nomination, "I don't think she'll win nationwide... [she will] energize the base. But the base isn't big enough and Republicans should have learned that." She went on to say that if Palin were to run,

“ She'd have to show me a lot more than I've seen thus far, as far as an understanding of the depth and the complexity of the issues that we face... she was a governor, but the fact that she left office before even completing her first term, it's just not an attitude that I think is necessarily in the best interest of your constituents, rather what's in your own best interest.”

Whitman currently has an energy lobbying group called the Whitman Strategy Group which states itself to be "a governmental relations consulting firm specializing in environmental and energy issues."

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Christine Todd Whitman's Timeline

September 26, 1946