Brian Bilbray

From SourceWatch
Jump to: navigation, search
Brian Bilbray was elected to the House in a special election held in June 2006.

Brian Phillip Bilbray, a Republican, is a U.S. Representative for California since a special election in 2006. He currently serves the 50th congressional district. (map) [1]

Record and controversies

Iraq War

For more information see the chart of U.S. House of Representatives votes on the Iraq War.

Environmental record

For more information on environmental legislation, see the Energy and Environment Policy Portal


Bilbray was born in Coronado, California, growing up in Imperial Beach, California. He worked as a tax consultant before entering politics. He and his wife, the former Karen Walker, have five children. He is a cousin of former Nevada Democratic Representative James Bilbray.

Bilbray became interested in politics during an attempt by Mayor Bert Stites to carry out an extensive program of eminent domain. He ran successfully for the Imperial Beach city council as a populist, serving during 1976–1987, and was mayor during 1978–1985. Bilbray's tenure as Mayor was marked by his attempt to build a yacht marina in the Tijuana Estuary and build a 1.5 mile breakwater off of the beach of Imperial Beach. [1] Both projects were stopped by the opposition of local environmentalists and surfers. The Tijuana River Estuary is now a National Estuarine Research Reserve and California State Park. The breakwater project was halted with the help of the then fledgling Surfrider Foundation.

From 1995 to 2001, Bilbray represented the state's 49th district. He was defeated for reelection in 2000 by Democrat Susan Davis. On June 6, 2006, Bilbray won a special election as representative for California's 50th district following the December 2005 resignation of Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham.

In 1994, Bilbray won the Republican nomination for the 49th district, which included most of San Diego, and defeated freshman Democrat Lynn Schenk in the Republican landslide of that year. The 49th was one of several marginal districts to go Republican in that cycle; Schenk had been the only Democrat to represent the district since its creation in 1953. Bilbray was reelected twice largely due to a moderate voting record that served him well as San Diego became increasingly Democratic. However, he was defeated by State Assemblywoman Susan Davis in 2000. Bilbray's support of a proposed airport at Brown Field in Otay Mesa cost him heavy local support in his hometown of Imperial Beach and he tearfully conceded the election to Davis.

While in Congress, Bilbray wrote letters on behalf of pill-maker Metabolife, whose dietary supplement pill with ephedrine was banned after causing over 150 deaths. Metabolife was a contributor to Bilbray's campaign.[2]

After his defeat, Bilbray registered as a federal lobbyist in 2001. His clients included the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians and Federation for American Immigration Reform, the San Diego Regional Airport Authority, Conquer Cancer and Alzheimer's Now, Los Angeles County, San Diego Gas and Electric Company, and the Bajagua sewage treatment project.

Bilbray received $35,000 from the Bajagua Project LLC for lobbying. He lobbied to help the company obtain a sole-source contract to treat sewage in Mexico with the International Boundary and Water Commission.[3] Bilbray had been involved with the project while in office, and had received campaign contributions from the project (earlier known as Agua Clara) while in office. In 1999, he and another lawmaker crafted a bill that forced the State Department to renegotiate with Mexico to allow for the project. [4]

The Hill, a D.C. political newspaper, reported that several sources, including a Republican lawmaker, complained Bilbray used his "floor privileges" as a former congressman to lobby members of Congress on the House floor. Bilbray denied the charge.[5]

2006 special congressional election

In 2006, Bilbray ran in the special election to fill the vacancy in California's 50th congressional district caused by the resignation of Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, who pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and tax evasion in 2005. In preparation for the election, Bilbray moved from Alexandria, Virginia back to Imperial Beach, California. Because Imperial Beach is outside the 50th Congressional District, Bilbray listed his mother's address in Carlsbad, California when filing his candidacy papers, as Carlsbad is in the 50th Congressional District.[6]

In the initial special election on April 11, 2006, Bilbray was the Republican candidate who received the most votes, with 15.26% of the total vote. He then faced the top votegetters of all the other parties in a runoff election on June 6, 2006. His opponents in the runoff included Democrat Francine Busby, Libertarian Paul King, and William Griffith, an independent.

During the campaign, Arizona Senator John McCain cancelled a planned fundraiser for Bilbray at the last minute, after Bilbray called McCain's immigration bill "amnesty" for illegal immigrants. [7] Later, Senator McCain contributed money to Brian Bilbray's campaign and voiced a radio commercial for the National Republican Congressional Committee in support of Bilbray's race against Ms. Busby. [8]

On June 6, Bilbray defeated Busby 49% to 45% in the special election. [9] On July 31, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of voters Gail Jacobsen and Lillian Ritt asking a judge to toss out results of the election and call for a recount. Paul Lehto, Jacobsen and Ritt’s attorney, argued that there was no way to ensure that the voting machines used by county elections officials were not tampered with during the election. The lawsuit specifically targeted the practice of allowing poll workers to take the voting equipment home with them before the election, something which occurred in this particular election. Adding that he believes tampering occurred, Lehto stated, “The thing you've got to know about using computers in the election is that computers do whatever they're told to do, without any regard to law, ethics or morality.” In defense of the integrity of the June 6 election, Register of Voters Mikel Hass responded, “There is nothing unusual or different about the way that we distribute election supplies to supervising poll workers.” He added that poll workers are given the equipment to guarantee that the workers have the machines operational by the time polls open at 7 a.m. in the morning. [10]

In August 2006, Bilbray and Haas filed motions to dismiss the election contest claiming that the House of Representatives had an “exclusive jurisdiction” that prevented the San Diego Superior Court or any other person besides the House from looking into the propriety of the election or the timing of Bilbray's disputed early swearing-in. According to the North County Times reporter at the decision on the motion, Superior Court Judge Juri Hofmann ruled: "Once the House asserts exclusive jurisdiction and selects a candidate, the court no longer has jurisdiction," Hofmann said. [11]

2006 congressional elections

In 2006, the Democrats nominated Francine P. Busby, and the Libertarian Party nominated Paul King to face Bilbray in his November 2006 bid for reelection setting up a rematch of the special election. (See U.S. congressional elections in 2006) [12] Bilbray retained his seat.

Money in politics

Campaign contributions

To date, Brian Bilbray has accepted $182,818 from Oil companies [13]


Committees and affiliations


Articles and resources


  1. Brian Bilbray profile, The Washington Post, accessed January 2011.
  2. Directors, Federation for American Immigration Reform, accessed September 14, 2008.


Local blogs and discussion sites



DC Office:
227 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: (202) 225-0508
Fax: (202) 225-2558

District Office - Solana Beach:
462 Stevens Avenue
Suite # 107
Solana Beach, CA 92075-2075
Phone: (858) 350-1150
Fax: (858) 350-0750

Corresponding article on Wikipedia and Cause Caller. (If Cause Caller link does not work, pick from its list of senators and representatives.)

Current Office: U.S. House of Representatives
111th Congress
Leadership Position:
Committees Chaired:
Ranking Member On:

110th Congress
Leadership Position:
Committees Chaired:
Ranking Member On:

Committees: House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform/Subcommittee on Domestic Policy, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform/Subcommittee on Government Management Organization and Procurement, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform/Subcommittee on the Legislative and Budget Process, House Committee on Science and Technology, House Committee on Science and Technology/Subcommittee on Research and Science Education, House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, House Committee on Veterans' Affairs/Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations
Congressional Career
First Elected to Current Office:
June 6, 2006
First Took Current Office:
June 13, 2006
Next Election:
November 2, 2010
Term Ends:
Freshman Member?
Previous Political Work?
U.S. House of Representatives (re-elected in special election on June 6, 2006),San Diego County Supervisor, Mayor, Imperial Beach, Imperial Beach City Council Member,
Other Party Membership:
District Offices:
1. 462 Stevens Avenue, Suite # 107, Solana Beach, CA 92075-2075
Phone: (858) 350-1150 / Fax: (858) 350-0750

Campaign Contact:

Webform Email: / Email:

Campaign Offices:

Phone: / Fax:

Zip Code Affiliations:

Date of Birth: January 28, 1951