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Roger Williams (American politician)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Roger Williams
Roger Williams official congressional photo.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 25th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2013 (2013-01-03)
Preceded byNew constituency (Redistricting)
105th Secretary of State of Texas
In office
February 8, 2005 (2005-02-08) – July 1, 2007 (2007-07-01)
GovernorRick Perry
Preceded byGeoff Connor
Succeeded byPhil Wilson
Personal details
John Roger Williams

(1949-09-13) September 13, 1949 (age 70)
Evanston, Illinois, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Patty Williams
Children2 daughters
EducationTexas Christian University (BA)
OccupationCar dealer
Net worth$27.7 million (2018)[1]
WebsiteHouse website

John Roger Williams (born September 13, 1949) is an American businessman and politician who has been the U.S. Representative for Texas's 25th congressional district since 2013. A member of the Republican Party, he previously served under Governor Rick Perry as Secretary of State of Texas from November 2004 to July 1, 2007.

With a net worth of $27.7 million, Williams is one of the wealthiest members of Congress.[1]

He attracted national scrutiny during the Coronavirus recession for accepting undisclosed taxpayer-funded Congressional bailouts for his personal business.[2]

Early life, education, and business career

Williams was born in Evanston, Illinois in 1949[3] and raised in Fort Worth. He played college baseball for the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs (TCU) from 1968 to 1971 and was selected in the 25th round of the 1971 MLB Draft by the Atlanta Braves, playing in the farm system and reaching the Class A Western Carolinas League.[4] He returned to Texas to coach TCU's baseball team before he embarked on a career in politics. Williams inherited the family's automobile dealership from his father, who founded them in 1939.[5]

GOP Fundraising and Perry administration (1994–2008)

Williams began his political career as a fundraiser for Governor George W. Bush in his 1994 and 1998 elections. He became North Texas Chairman for the Bush/Cheney 2000 campaign, North Texas Finance Chairman in 2004, and National Grassroots Fundraising Chairman for the 2004 campaign.[citation needed]

Governor Rick Perry appointed Williams to be his fourth Secretary of State of Texas in 2004.[6]

Williams announced on June 11, 2007, that he would leave the appointed position and late in 2008 he formed an exploratory committee to consider a run for the United States Senate seat held by fellow Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison of Dallas, who had formed her own committee to consider a 2010 race for governor of Texas. Williams considered a run for Senate in 2012 but decided to run for the U.S. House of Representatives instead.[7]

U.S. House of Representatives

2012 election

In June 2011, Williams announced that he was dropping his Senate bid to instead run for Texas's 25th congressional district.[7][8] The district was a newly drawn district stretching from central Austin to  Burleson. Congressional District 25 has been cited as one of Texas's most  gerrymandered  districts.[9][10] Williams does not live in the district; his home in Weatherford is in  Texas's 12th Congressional District.

Williams ranked first with 25 percent of the vote and qualified for runoff election. Wes Riddle ranked second with 15 percent and met Williams in the second round of balloting.[11] In the July 31 election, Williams defeated Riddle 58 to 42 percent.[12] In the November general election, Williams defeated Democratic nominee Elaine Henderson 58%–37%.[13]

2014 re-election

In the November 4, 2014 general election, Williams defeated Democrat Marco Montoya and Libertarian John Betz, with Williams receiving 107,120 votes (60.22%) over Montoya's 64,463 votes (36.24%) and Betz's 6,300 votes (3.54%).[14] Williams unsuccessfully challenged National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden of Oregon in Walden's bid for a second term as chairman after the 2014 elections.[15]

2016 House Ethics Review

On May 3, 2016, the  House Ethics Committee initiated an investigation into Williams after he inserted a provision into a $300 billion transportation funding bill called the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act that exempted some car dealerships like his own from a proposal to prevent rental car companies from renting out vehicles that were subject to safety recalls.[16] The legislation was spurred by the deaths of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, ages 24 and 20.[17] The two sisters were killed in 2004 while driving a rented, recalled vehicle that caught fire and crashed head-on into a semi.[18] The investigation's focus was a provision Williams authored in the bill that would have exempted dealerships like his own and allowed renting vehicles under active safety recall.[19][20][21] The independent nonpartisan Office of Congressional Ethics found that Williams violated House ethics rules, noting that Williams refused to cooperate; by unanimous, bipartisan vote the OCE found that “there is substantial reason to believe that Rep. Williams’ personal financial interest in his auto dealership may be perceived as having influenced his performance of official duties – namely, his decision to offer an amendment to the surface transportation legislation.”[22] The House Ethics committee determined that the amendment "could have affected Representative Williams’ personal financial interests", but decided to end the investigation and took no further action.[23][24]

2016 re-election

Williams won his third term in the House in the general election held on November 8, 2016, when Donald Trump carried the electoral vote majority over Hillary Rodham Clinton. Williams polled 180,988 votes (58.4 percent) to 117,073 (37.7 percent) received by Democrat Kathi Thomas. Libertarian Loren Marc Schneiderman held the remaining 12,135 ballots (3.9 percent).[25]

2018 re-election

Williams won his fourth term in the House in the general election held on November 6, 2018. With 162,288 votes (53.6 percent), he defeated Democrat Julie Oliver, who polled 135,288 (44.7 percent). Another 5,124 (1.7 percent) went to the Libertarian Party nominee, Desarae Lindsey.[26]

COVID-19 Paycheck Protection Program Controversy

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dallas Morning News reported that Roger Williams Chrysler Dodge Jeep dealership in Weatherford, Texas received an unspecified amount in federally backed small business loans as part of the Paycheck Protection Program. Williams's office acknowledged that he had accepted forgivable taxpayer-funded loans through the Paycheck Protection Program a few days later but would not disclose the amount.[27] In Texas the Killeen Daily Herald, Austin American-Statesman, and Fort Worth Star-Telegram published stories on the incident, with national news outlets reporting as well.[28][27][29][2]

The move prompted Rep. Katie Porter to introduce legislation that would require all loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to be made public and stated "If you’re a multimillionaire taking taxpayer money in the middle of the biggest unemployment since the Great Depression, get ready to explain that decision to the American people."[30][31] Washington Post highlighted March 2020 comments from Williams in Epoch Times, where he stated "A socialist wants you to get a check from the government... a capitalist wants you to get a check from the place that you work."[32]

Rep. Williams then drew further public scrutiny for voting against the TRUTH Act (H.R. 6782), a bipartisan bill which would have required public disclosure of companies that received funds through the bailout program.[33][34][35][36]

Committee assignments

Political positions

Immigration and refugees

Williams supported President Donald Trump's 2017 executive order imposing a ban on entry to the U.S. to citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, calling it a "commonsense" measure and saying that opponents "are lost in the political correctness of this."[37]

Personal life

Williams and his wife, Patty, live in Weatherford, the seat of Parker County west of Fort Worth, and have two daughters who attended TCU. He owns the automobile dealership in Weatherford that he inherited.[5]

Williams is a trustee of TCU and the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University in College Station.[citation needed]

Williams is the coach of the Republican team for the Congressional Baseball Game.[38] On June 14, 2017, he was present during a shooting attack on a practice for the game. He was taken from the area on a stretcher due to an ankle injury he suffered while jumping into the dugout during the attack.[39][40] A member of his staff was shot and taken to the hospital, where he was treated for a leg injury and released.[41][38]


  1. ^ a b "Ranking the Net Worth of the 115th". Retrieved August 5, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Lawmakers have benefited from a loan program intended to help small businesses weather the pandemic". The New York Times. June 16, 2020. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  3. ^ Cooper, Kent (August 11, 2014). "Roger Williams (Texas-25)". Roll Call. Retrieved August 19, 2014.
  4. ^ "Roger Williams Minor Leagues Statistics & History". Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved June 16, 2017.
  5. ^ a b "3 Austinites are among the wealthiest members of Congress". Austin American-Statesman. September 25, 2018.
  6. ^ "GOP fund-raiser is new Texas secretary of state". Associated Press. November 18, 2004.
  7. ^ a b Slater, Wayne (June 28, 2011). "Roger Williams switches from Senate to House race". Trailblazers Blog. Dallas Morning News. Retrieved July 18, 2011.
  8. ^ Alex. "Roger Williams for Congress". Retrieved August 19, 2014.
  9. ^ Ramirez, Fernando (October 31, 2018). "Ranking Texas' most gerrymandered districts".
  10. ^ Jacobson, Louis (August 16, 2018). "Politifact Fact Check: 'Texas is one of the most gerrymandered states in the union.'".
  11. ^ "". Retrieved August 19, 2014.
  12. ^ "". Retrieved August 19, 2014.
  13. ^ "". Retrieved August 19, 2014.
  14. ^ "2014 Statewide General Election Results". Texas Secretary of State. Texas Secretary of State.
  15. ^ Center, Shira. "Roger Williams Makes Play for NRCC Chairman". Roll Call. Retrieved July 31, 2014.
  16. ^ Walsh, Sean (September 15, 2016). "Rep. Roger Williams ethics probe continues". Austin American-Statesman.
  17. ^ Kreider, Randy (June 1, 2016). "Years After Tragedy, Mother Claims Victory in New Rental Car Protections". ABC News.
  18. ^ Wire, Sarah (December 21, 2015). "One mother spent a decade after daughters' deaths changing car-rental laws". Los Angeles Times.
  19. ^ Wire, Sarah (December 21, 2015). "Roger Williams was probed by ethics office targeted by Republicans". Austin American-Statesman.
  20. ^ Dunbar, John (June 28, 2016). "CAR DEALER-CONGRESSMAN SUBJECT OF ETHICS PROBE". Center for Public Integrity.
  21. ^ Wire, Sarah (December 21, 2015). "Roger Williams was probed by ethics office targeted by Republicans". Austin American-Statesman.
  22. ^ Brooks, Susan (August 11, 2016). "OCE Referral Regarding Rep. Roger Williams". 115th Congress, 1st Session, US House of Representatives Committee on Ethics.
  23. ^ Brooks, Susan (August 1, 2017). "In the Matter of Allegations Relating to Representative Roger Williams" (PDF). 115th Congress, 1st Session, US House of Representatives Committee on Ethics.
  24. ^ Kleiner, Sarah (August 1, 2017). "HOUSE ETHICS COMMITTEE SCOLDS, DOESN'T PUNISH ROGER WILLIAMS". Center for Public Integrity.
  25. ^ "Election Results". Texas Secretary of State. November 8, 2016. Retrieved December 17, 2016.
  26. ^ "Election Returns". Texas Secretary of State. November 6, 2018. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  27. ^ a b Price, Asher (May 8, 2020). "Austin congressman gets federal bailout money for car dealership". Austin American-Statesman.
  28. ^ Brand, Monique (May 7, 2020). "Congressman's North Texas business received coronavirus relief loan". Killeen Daily-Herald.
  29. ^ Tinsley, Anna (May 4, 2020). "Weatherford car dealership owned by Rep. Roger Williams gets coronavirus relief loan". Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
  30. ^ Katie Porter (May 14, 2020). "Rep. Porter Introduces Bill to Increase Accountability for Small Business Relief Loans". U.S. Representative Katie Porter. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  31. ^ Katie Porter (May 12, 2020). "PPP loan grift is still happening. Congress must open the books — or corporate greed wins again". NBC News. Retrieved May 12, 2020.
  32. ^ Tom Hamburger; Aaron Gregg; Anu Narayanswamy (July 8, 2020). "After railing against federal spending, GOP lawmakers, conservative groups benefit from government aid program". Washington Post. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
  33. ^ "Final Vote Results for Roll Call 113". May 28, 2020. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  34. ^ "Bill Summary HR 6782". May 28, 2020. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  35. ^ Sarah Ferris; Melanie Zanoma; Zachary Warmbrodt (June 16, 2020). "Members of Congress took small-business loans — and the full extent is unknown". Politico. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  36. ^ Andrew Solender (June 17, 2020). "At Least Four Members Of Congress Personally Benefited From PPP Loans: Report". Forbes. Retrieved June 17, 2020.
  37. ^ Blake, Aaron (January 31, 2017). "Whip Count: Here's where Republicans stand on Trump's controversial travel ban". Washington Post.
  38. ^ a b Hamedy, Saba (June 15, 2017). "Congressional baseball practice shooting: What we know about the victims". CNN. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
  39. ^ "Steve Scalise shot in Virginia, aides also hit". Fox News. June 14, 2017. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  40. ^ "Congressman Steve Scalise and others shot at Alexandria, Virginia, park". NBC News. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  41. ^ Tilove, Jonathan (June 14, 2017). "Roger Williams' staffer among those shot at GOP baseball practice". Austin American-Statesman. Retrieved June 14, 2017.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Geoff Connor
Secretary of State of Texas
Succeeded by
Phil Wilson
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Lloyd Doggett
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 25th congressional district

U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Brad Wenstrup
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Ted Yoho
This page was last edited on 28 July 2020, at 00:50
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